Career Woman

What are paralegal studies and what are the career pros?


The paralegal profession is a competitive and exciting career choice. With time passing by, the dynamics of different professions have also changed. Gone are the days when people would underrate paralegals. The paralegal industry changed in the last few years; when lawyers began to realize the importance of paralegals, so paralegal studies have become more popular. 

There are many careers in the field you can choose from, with requirements differing by region or company. Earlier they wouldn’t be paid much, but today many people are joining the bandwagon of paralegals to earn a good salary. Becoming a paralegal is easy than becoming a lawyer, for it requires less investment of time and energy. 

Typically, you’ll need at least two years of post-secondary paralegal studies education and experience to become a paralegal. You can also earn online certifications, an online bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s degree.

Who is a paralegal?

A legal assistant or paralegal is a person who is qualified through education and training to help lawyers with their work. They are the right hand of many law offices around the country.

Simply explained, a paralegal is a person who is employed by a lawyer or a governmental agency to work with them. A legal assistant assists lawyers in carrying out all aspects of litigation, from drafting pleadings to researching a case’s history.  Paralegals can act as attorneys’ assistants when they represent clients before administrative agencies such as immigration courts or Social Security Administration hearings boards.

What’s included in paralegal studies?

Paralegal studies and paralegal degrees are available at different levels, with the degree that you choose reflecting your interests and knowledge. As the degree advances from an Associate’s up to Graduate level, courses become more comprehensive and costly. They also offer better employment opportunities due to increased specialization at each subsequent tier.

You can choose your own paralegal studies pace by selecting the degree you want.

  • Associate’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s program

When you choose an associate’s degree, here’s what you expect to learn:

  • Introduction to the law
  • Legal, research writing, and civil litigation
  • Professional responsibility and legal ethics

If you opt for a paralegal bachelor degree, which takes four years (120 credit hours), here’s what you’ll encounter:

  • Criminal law
  • Patents, trademarks, and copyrights
  • Legal document preparation

What paralegal studies can offer you

Here’s what to expect if you chose to follow a paralegal’s career path.

Paralegal studies are short

College doesn’t always mean a four-year degree. If you’re interested in law but don’t have time for an intensive bachelor’s program, paralegal training is the perfect fit with its shortened course length and flexible schedule options. Students can acquire their certificate from one of many online programs or on-campus courses available at local colleges.

Unlike lawyers who need exams and law degrees before practicing legally, paralegals do not have such restrictions. As a result, they may start practicing right away after finishing this relatively simple certification process!

This is perhaps a concrete benefit of being a part of this profession. Unlike lawyers, paralegals can earn a degree within one or two years of their service. Some paralegal schools offer short term paralegal courses that help young people in getting jobs early.

There’s plenty of work opportunities for paralegals

In the next decade, paralegals will be in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an expected 17% growth from 2012 until 2022, which means more jobs waiting. Besides, paralegals have many employment opportunities. For example, they can find a place within law firms, public and private organizations, real estate, healthcare, or software industries.

One gets hands-on experience after working with veteran lawyers and government agencies. Paralegals have the privilege of learning a lot of things within a short time in their careers. Most paralegals get promoted to senior and managerial level positions in law firms in a short time. So if you want to become a paralegal you must join the bandwagon early on after the completion of your college education.

You will be intrigued to know; a lawyer doesn’t know everything about the field of law. Many often practice a specific niche for the rest of their lives and prosper in it. Secondly, you can also specialize in a particular area of law and continue to work in that field for the rest of your life. A lot of freelance paralegals have a high chance of becoming veteran professionals early on in their careers.

Paralegals earn well

As a Paralegal, you can expect an annual starting salary of $49,356 in 2021. The pay might depend on your employer and the state in which you work. For example, paralegals working with legal services earn about $23 per hour, while those employed by private sectors may make as much as $30 per hour.

According to a recent survey, a whopping 50% of US-based employees think their wages match up well enough for them to live comfortably.  California has the highest employment levels out of all 50 States, while Washington DC is one of the top-paying cities to be a Paralegal at around $36-$38 an hour (the rate varies based on experience).

Longevity and growth

When somebody decides to choose a particular profession, the most important thing in his/her mind is to analyze the scope and time period of that job. A paralegal is a rampantly booming profession along with law, for it has many perks and benefits for young millennials. Stats claim there are currently over 45000 jobs available for paralegals In the US alone that are expected to rise near the future.

Final thoughts

Does a career as a paralegal seem like the best move for your future? If it does, then you’re in for a competitive and exciting ride. Check out the top programs in paralegal studies and get started right away. Always remember that you’re never too late for anything. If you have an obsession with law and want to assist lawyers in their work or help governmental agencies, you must pick up this profession as a career choice.

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