Paralegals acts as assistants and as support staff to lawyers. They are responsible for writing out new contracts and drafting documents that lawyers will use with clients and in courtrooms. They also file the documents and keep records of past transactions. Paralegal jobs require familiarity with different filing systems because paralegals will often keep track of important files pertaining to upcoming cases. Lawyers and attorneys will call on paralegals for help when it comes to researching new topics and finding information that will help their clients. Paralegals occasionally meet with clients and record meetings between clients and their lawyers. As law offices keep growing, those lawyers need law office receptionists, law office assistants and research assistants.
Paralegal Education Requirements
Paralegals are usually required to have a minimum of an associate's degree or equivalent vocational training. More than 40 percent of all paralegals have at least a bachelor's degree. Many vocational programs across the country offer training for high school students that let them work as paralegals after graduation, and adult students can attend similar programs at vocational schools and community colleges. Paralegals learn the complex language that lawyers use during their training. They also need to possess good time management, communications and critical thinking skills.
Paralegal Job Market
The outlook for paralegal jobs is good. The number of paralegals working in the field in 2012 was 277,000, but this figure will grow to include an additional 46,200 jobs by 2022. Statistics show that this is a growth of 17 percent, which is much faster than most industries. As more students enter law school and pass their bar exams, they will need support staff who can handle tasks and issues outside of the courtroom. Paralegals and legal assistants take care of details, which helps lawyers focus on their clients.
The median salary reported by those working as paralegals is $45,000 to $46,990, which comes out to a wage of $22.59 an hour. Those working for private law firms and corporate legal teams typically earn more than those working for state and federal government agencies.