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What do Paralegals do?  

Paralegals help lawyers in their day-to-day work. They perform some of the same tasks as lawyers. They are also called legal assistants. Paralegals look at the facts of cases to make sure that all important information is included. They write reports that lawyers use to help prepare their cases. They also keep track of the documents related to the case.

Paralegals also do many other important things. Their duties vary depending on the type of business for which they work. For example, they may help write contracts and mortgages. Some help prepare income tax returns and other financial documents.

Paralegals often use computers in their work. They must enjoy doing research.

Most worked a typical 40-hour week. Most work year round, but some are only employed during busy times of the year. In law firms, some work very long hours. Most of their work is done at desks in offices and law libraries. Sometimes they have to travel.

How do you get ready to become a Paralegal?  

There are several ways to become a paralegal. Most attend a community college paralegal program that leads to an associate degree. A small number of schools offer bachelor's and master's degrees in paralegal studies. Some learn by on-the-job training. Sometimes experienced legal secretaries may become paralegals.

Being certified by a legal organization can help get a job. This may require education, work experience, and passing a test. Some work as interns at law firms while going to school. This experience can help them get a full-time job later.

Paralegals need good research and writing skills. They should also be able to use computers. Paralegals often deal with the public, so they should be courteous. They also have to uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession.

How much do Paralegals get paid?  

The middle half of paralegals earned between $30,020 and $48,760. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $24,470. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $61,150.

Earnings of paralegals vary greatly. Persons who work for large firms or in big cities earn more.

How many jobs are there?  

Paralegals and legal assistants held about 200,000 jobs in 2002. About 7 out of 10 worked for law firms. Others worked for companies and government.

What about the future?  

Law firms will hire more paralegals to help lawyers prepare their cases. More people and businesses will need legal services, which will also increase the need for paralegals. The number of jobs for paralegals is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2002 and 2012. However, new workers are expected to face competition for these jobs. Persons with formal training or related work experience will have the best chances.

Are there other jobs like this?  

  • Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators
  • Law clerks
  • Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians
  • Title examiners, abstractors, and searchers

    Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics
Where can you find more information?  

More information about paralegals and legal assistants can be found in the careers database.

Questions or Comments?
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