Guide on How to Become a Paralegal

Paralegals are assistants who work for lawyers in the law firms. If you feel you are not yet ready to be a lawyer, you can take up the career of a paralegal. You can first gain experience in the jobs in a law firm since you will be helping the lawyer to supervise the cases he gets from the clients.

What are the Duties of Paralegals?

Paralegals help in overseeing things and keeping everything running smoothly for the lawyer. They can help in preparing the hearings and trials, perform legal research, and conduct interviews with clients and meetings. There are a few things that paralegals cannot do. For example, they cannot represent a client in court. They also cannot accept cases and provide advice for the clients. The duties of the paralegals vary depending on the firm size. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that 73% of paralegals work in law firms. The rest work in governmental agencies, and not for profit organizations.

What Education Does a Paralegal Need?

There is no specific education requirement in most states for those who want to become a paralegal. However, in every state, some colleges and universities offer specific programs for paralegals. To ensure that you are getting a quality education, it is important that you select a degree that is ABA-accredited. There is no need to get a bachelor degree. You only need to have at least a paralegal associate degree. You can increase your chances of getting hired by getting a paralegal certificate program. Getting a degree will equip you with the basic skills to succeed in the field. You will only get to learn the key skills when you are on the job.

What is expected of a Paralegal?

If you want to get into this field, you must be organized and efficient. It cannot afford to make an error due to tight court scheduling. Making a tiny mistake can produce a big consequence as it can cost the firm to lose a case, or get accused of incompetence in the law practice. Every lawyer is different, and you must be able to follow their ethical rules and guidelines.

How Much Does a Paralegal Earn?

The average salary paralegals earn vary by states. The average of paralegal salary in New York is $58,750 per year while the average in Florida is $50,120. It is already considered a good wage since other jobs only earn an average of $37,000 per year. The salary you earn is determined by many factors such as academic background, area of specialization, and the law firm. If you are highly experienced, it is possible to earn a six-figure annual salary. Additionally, when you work as a paralegal in the law firm, you will be entitled to a number of benefits like IRA, medical insurance, dental insurance, and of time pay. You will also benefit from the subsidy for tuition reimbursement and seminars.

What is the Outlook of a Paralegal?

Paralegal job has a positive outlook based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is estimated that the career will grow by 15% until 2026. Many employers are choosing to use paralegal service instead of hiring lawyers as they have a cheaper cost per hour. The best fields for a paralegal to get into in the upcoming years are finance and insurance as predicted by the BLS data.