The job outlook for a paralegal is overall very good. This position is expected to see growth due to changes in the legal field that have seen them as a highly valued hybrid role between attorneys and legal secretaries. Paralegals are an integral part of legal teams and work with other legal professionals to provide their clients with quality legal services. What follows is an analysis of the job outlook for this profession.
Why Paralegals Are In Demand
While law school graduates often struggle to find work, paralegals are in a much better position. They are in demand largely due to cost. Paralegals can do much of the same work attorneys do for less. Law firms thus want to hire paralegals in order to cut costs both for themselves and for clients, who may view legal fees as being too high. Another main reason paralegals are in demand is a desire for higher efficiency at law firms because they can perform many tasks both attorneys and legal secretaries can do. Paralegals are also in demand in corporate legal departments because corporations can often cut costs by doing legal work in-house.
Who Hires Paralegals?
Most paralegals work at law firms. In these roles, they typically assist attorneys in preparing legal documentation, interviewing clients and witnesses, and performing legal research. Law firms both large and small hire and have need of paralegals. However, paralegals may work elsewhere too. Various state and federal government agencies as well as individual corporations also hire paralegals directly to work in their legal departments, especially in the finance and insurance sectors. Paralegals can even work on their own as freelancers.
What Can Increase Job Outlook?
There are a few things individual paralegals can do to increase their own career outlook. The American Bar Association, the association that governs attorneys in the United States and issues accreditation to law schools, also accredits paralegal programs. While there are many paralegal programs at American colleges and universities, few are ABA approved. Paralegals who have graduated from American Bar Association accredited paralegal programs will be more competitive in the job market. Paralegals also have the ability to become Certified Paralegals by passing certification exams. They usually must have work experience as a paralegal before being permitted to take these exams. Strong tech skills, particularly in database management, are also highly desired by employers.
The Job Outlook For Paralegals
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for a paralegal sits at a 15 percent growth rate, which is described as much faster than average. There is also projected to be increased demand for paralegals who specialize in certain areas of law, in particular healthcare and intellectual property. However, it is important to remember that paralegals are not lawyers and therefore cannot perform certain tasks only attorneys can. This includes representing clients in court, giving legal advice, accepting or rejecting cases, or setting client fees. They must work under the supervision of attorneys.
Because the position pays well, only requires an associate’s degree to obtain and is largely in demand across the board, this career path is an attractive one for many. This is especially true for students who want a legal career but do not want to be attorneys. All of these factors combine to make the job outlook for a paralegal, for the foreseeable future, quite bright.