A career as a paralegal is a good fit for individuals who work well with others and already have some experience working in law. Those without this experience may have a more difficult time finding employment due to the competitive job market.
Many opportunities for teamwork
Paralegals often work together on certain parts of cases, making this a good field to get into if you enjoy working as part of a team. You and your fellow paralegals conduct research, write reports, contact clients, and anything else a lawyer needs you to do. Having someone else tackle half the work helps you get through it more quickly and efficiently. Keep in mind you may be the only paralegal if you’re working at a smaller firm, but preparing for a case is a group effort in most larger offices.
Numerous opportunities for specialization
Paralegals may choose to specialize in just about any area of law, including personal injury, bankruptcy, and family law, among others. The wide variety of specialties enables you to select the branch of law that most interests you, which is an opportunity most other vocational careers don’t offer. In addition, expertise in one or more of these fields is going to improve your job prospects and make you more appealing to employers who also work in this area of law. The exact tasks you need to perform as a paralegal will be dependent on the type of law you’re dealing with, so the job could vary greatly from one law firm to the next.
Above-average job growth
Over the next ten years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase of 46,200 paralegal jobs in the U.S. This amounts to a 17% increase, which is relatively high compared to the 11% growth that’s expected among all legal professions. More and more law firms are looking to cut costs and hiring paralegals to complete basic tasks rather than charging clients more to have a lawyer do the same thing. The job market for paralegals is expected to be competitive, though, so that may make it a little more difficult to secure a position in this field.
Highly competitive field
Thousands of new paralegal jobs are expected to open up in the next decade, but competition is expected to be strong. Those with experience in the field, an associate’s degree or higher, and expertise in a particular branch of law have the best chance of finding employment. This doesn’t mean it’ll be impossible for you to get a job if you don’t meet these criteria, but there may be fewer options available. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal, look into opportunities to gain some relevant experience while you’re still in school.
Experience is preferred
The majority of law firms prefer to hire paralegals that have some experience working in a law office, and even more so if the paralegal has existing knowledge of the company’s specific branch of law. If you already have this type of experience and you possess an associate’s degree, you stand a good chance of finding a job in the field. If you don’t, though, you may have a more difficult time finding that first job. Look into internships or think about getting voluntary certification to make you more appealing to employers.
Large workload fluctuations
Depending on how many cases the law firm is working on, a paralegal could have a lot of work on their plate or not much at all. Workloads vary dramatically, and this could mean that a law firm may not always have enough work to keep several paralegals on full time. Most paralegals today are employed full time, however, so this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
- Career Growth (2012-2022): 17%
- Median Pay: $46,990
- Number of Jobs: 277,000
- Number of New Jobs (2012-2022): 46,200