Paralegal Career: Working Like a Lawyer on a Paralegal’s Salary

What is a Paralegal?

Paralegals or legal assistants are the backbone of law firms and corporate legal offices; they practically perform a lawyer’s job – save for the handshaking with clients and the word-sparring in court. This article details a paralegal’s scope of work, compensation, and education and training options to start a career in the legal services.

Paralegal Job Description

Paralegal job duties include the following routine duties that are traditionally part of a lawyer’s responsibilities:

– Assist lawyers in preparing for trials, hearings, closings, corporate meetings, etc.;

– Check facts for verification and complete all necessary research work to ensure the correctness and accuracy of all data that lawyers use in their cases;

– Assist lawyers in preparing legal arguments, in drafting motions and pleadings, and in obtaining affidavits; – Assist lawyers in the actual court trials;

– And other administrative and clerical duties as seen fit by the employer. This may include coordination of the activities of law office employees, maintaining financial records, maintaining legal archives and records, preparing tax returns, etc.

Paralegals basically perform many of the duties of a lawyer, but with certain limitations. Paralegals are prohibited by law to perform any of the following:

– Dispense legal advice to clients;

– Appear in court in the capacity of a lawyer or present a case before the court;

– Set legal fees, etc.

Paralegal Earnings

Average paralegal salary is currently pegged at $46,120 per year, according to the Occupational Employment Statistics’ latest data, with the top earning legal assistants bagging as much as $73,450 annually. The differences in earnings is directly related to training and education, experience on the job, and the size and type of employer. Employment can be found in federal, state, and local government offices, as well as courts of law, and insurance companies; according to OES data, legal offices hire the most number of paralegals, owning 71% of the employment opportunities for trained paralegals.

Paralegal Training Options

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 260 American Bar Association (ABA)-approved programs for paralegal studies. If you are seriously considering a career in the paralegal, here are some options you can take to start on this path:

Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Look for community colleges that offer paralegal programs which can be expanded into an associate degree given that you have completed all the necessary coursework for an associate degree certificate.

Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

You can take your associate degree a notch further by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. If you are a bachelor’s degree-holder in a different field and wish to jump overboard, you can sign up for graduate studies in paralegal studies.

On-the-job Paralegal Training

Yet another option is to look for a law firm that would hire to train their own paralegal. Make sure to take advantage of paralegal programs while you are on the job to ensure that your knife is sharp and you get to advance in this career.

To further advance your training, you can seek for paralegal certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Certified Paralegals or Certified Legal Assistants enjoy better employment opportunities and advancement in the paralegal career.

Lawyer Salaries – Are They As High As Everyone Claims?

The legal profession has been around for a good many years and there has been a common notion that lawyering is a stable, lucrative profession. There may have been a time when that was the case, but is it still so now?

The United States has more lawyers than any other country in the world, turning out about 38,000 law graduates a year from the more than 200 law schools across the country. This has led a ranking member of the judiciary to comment that there are too many lawyers in the United States, that the number of legal professionals far outnumbers the jobs and clients available out there.

What are the determinants of lawyers’ salaries?

Several factors that determine the amount of professional fees that lawyers can demand, or the salaries they are entitled to as members or partners in law firms or as part of the public legal system.

• The kind of law being practiced influences lawyers’ salaries. For example, corporate lawyers, lawyers who handle mergers and acquisitions and have the opportunity to deal with clients who have more money will definitely receive more than public prosecutors or lawyers for nonprofit organizations.
• Geographical area of operation also has a bearing on lawyer salaries. The average salary for a lawyer is highest in Washington, San Francisco and New York. Incidentally, the most popular cities for lawyers, based on median salary charts, are New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. This data can be accessed at http://www.payscale.com.
• Government as employer vs. private practice. Private practice, with profits in mind, often gives salaries that are higher that what the government, as an employer, gives.
• Stringent requirements for entry into big law forms. Large, firmly established law firms give higher salaries to their lawyers than smaller or medium-sized ones. While entry into a large law firm is not always easy, the salaries they get are worth the effort. The candidate for membership needs to be a graduate of a reputable, prestigious law school and higher than average grades. Still, graduates of law schools of less distinction can still make it into these big law firms, provided they are on top of their class, have articles published in law journals, and have participated in law evaluations and/or debates. Back door entry into a big law firm can be done if a lawyer can present a record of demonstrated success over years of legal practice.
• Experience in litigation is also a determining factor in the amount of salary to which a lawyer is entitled. A senior partner of a firm gets a higher salary than a junior partner, by virtue of his or her years of practice in the profession.

Because a law degree is a graduate degree, lawyers normally start with fairly high salaries. The average starting salary for a lawyer, based on the Lawyer Starting Salary register, is around $56,000. This average starting salary is just a jumping-off point. It is projected that in 20 years of practice, this amount should more than double.

The National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP), however, states that in 2008, the salary for entry level lawyers in public or civil jobs ranged from $40,000 to $47,435. Attorneys wages in private practice for 2007 ranged from $68,000 to $130,000, on the average.

Despite these high figures, there are those who contend that Law is an overrated career that is glamorized by television. It does not take into account such realities as debts accrued while attending law school, time and effort needed by lawyers to establish a client base, and the fact that lawyers put long working hours into honing their skills in their profession.

How to Become a Paralegal – Find Out How You Can Be a Lawyer’s Right Arm

Do you yearn for a fast past exciting career in the field of law? Then perhaps you should learn how to become a Paralegal.

A Paralegal is a legal assistant; he or she does not necessarily train and practice as a lawyer. However, he or she enjoys the thrill and the exhilaration of working in the same field. Yet, to be successful within this field, you must possess the passion as well as the patience to dedicate yourself to researching and preparing various cases.

Educational Requirements

Anyone interested in how to become a paralegal should put some effort into finding out about the training and education required for this job. First, you must first complete high school or pass the GED exams. Next, you should complete a two-year associate degree program in criminal justice from a community college or a vocational school. An alternative way to go about this is through an online program. Finally, you can choose enroll in an American Bar Association (ABA) approved program as it will enhance your opportunities later on. A word of advice though – whatever program or college you opt for, make sure that it is accredited by the National Federation of the Paralegal Association.

Duties and Responsibilities

In order to understand how to become a Paralegal, one must also have a detailed understanding of what he or she may be required to do.

The most basic and essential duty of a Paralegal is to assist lawyers in their preparations for hearings, trials, and closings. However, since a majority of paralegals work for law firms, corporate legal departments or even government agencies, they may have other responsibilities such as:

  • Collecting and organizing all the necessary data and records required by the lawyer for the concerned court cases
  • Drafting and writing legal reports and documents
  • Preparing for trials under the supervision of lawyers
  • Providing suggestions for the method in which the case can be litigated
  • Drafting documents for litigation, contracts, separation agreements and other such tasks
  • Running searches over properties along with various other tasks such as preparing for transaction closings for real estate.

Career Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is one field that is growing like wildfire. Compared to other careers in criminal justice, paralegals are expected to earn more by 28% by 2018 and an average yearly income of approximately $46,000 to $73,000.

So, now that you know everything there is to know about how to become a paralegal, perhaps you will start considering this career seriously.

Legal Careers – How to Excel in Your Legal Career

Of the many career options available today law seems to be emerging on the largest scale. Not only has it become the first priority of many but also it is seeing the maximum competition today. If you have it in you to take up challenges and work hard with a firm resolve then there is nothing like legal career careers for you. The need for professionals in the legal scenario seems to be growing by the minute and this indeed is a golden chance for all law aspirants. It’s no more about just being a lawyer but there are many non legal careers for lawyers.

There are a few criterions for getting into these legal jobs but none of them are unachievable. The first thing that you will require is excellent academic grades. So if you are now in high school and wish to concentrate on careers in law start concentrating on your studies from this very minute. There are many alternative legal careers available too now. Paralegal is a good example of a completely different kind of avenue for law aspirants. Now you will find a huge number of individuals who though they want to make a career in law are not very keen in being a lawyer. Being a paralegal is the best option available for them. They assist lawyers in field work and researches on cases.

However there are a few criterions that you must fulfil for being successful in legal careers. Firstly as I already said you will need to have excellent high school grades. You can go for any subject of your choice in high school but do a bit of research on what type of lawyer you want to be and a course which compliments it can be your best possible option. The graduation course that you do at a law school must also be finished with good grades.

Specializing in any particular field will help you become a specialist lawyer in the field you want to be in. Remember your learning does not end after leaving law school. Your actual education begins after instead. There is no end to the learning process and one must keep learning from experiences and research work. The more knowledge you posses the higher are your chances of becoming a good lawyer.

Do research work in places like your local library. A bit of research on previous cases particularly the complex ones increases your insight on the topics. Joining a business related course can also be a good idea to expand your knowledge. A bit of computer knowledge is also necessary in the legal scenario so you also might want to do a computer course.

Remember a career in law means a lot of sacrifice in your personal life; working till late hours and sometimes even on weekends. Your family and friends need to be understanding about this fact and you must explain your situation to them.

There is no alternative for work if you want to succeed in the legal careers.

Lawyer Jobs – Top 10 Most Lucrative Lawyer Jobs

Lots of opportunities are coming up these days for the students. They have the opportunity to choose the field which they prefer and make proper advancements in their career. It is always important to choose the career which interests you the most.

You should never compromise with your choice in this case because a forced choice might even ruin your career. Legal field has gained quite a lot of popularity among students these days. There has been a steep rise in the number of lawyer jobs opportunities in the country in the recent times.

In the present scenario therefore these jobs have become the hottest jobs as well as the most wanted opportunities. If you are looking for the attorney jobs then you can do so in a number of places.

These job opportunities are available on the internet as well as from the local newspapers. These are high paying job opportunities and they can provide you with compete job satisfaction. The top ten lucrative lawyer jobs available these days are for the fresher as well as for experienced lawyers.

1. Law jobs can provide you with lucrative opportunities to practice in the court. Other than this, you can even start practicing on your own which can also fetch you quite a handful of money. You must always try to climb the ladder of success by gathering more knowledge and experience in this field.

2. Government attorney jobs can also be a lucrative offer. Here you have a secure job and you can learn from your own mistakes.

3. If you do not want to fight cases in the courtroom you can opt for the paralegal jobs. Paralegals are people without whom the lawyers are basically nothing.
The paralegals are responsible for reducing the job of the real lawyer. All the paper work as well as research work is usually done by the paralegals.

4. Corporate lawyers are the hottest trends these days. The corporate companies require lawyers for bankruptcies, mergers as well as acquisitions. These companies usually do not take any important step without consulting their lawyers.

5. Entry level lawyer jobs can also provide you with lucrative opportunities. They help you learn the job and gather useful experience which can be used to achieve success in this field. They pay might not be very good in the beginning but it will improve.

6. To start with lawyer jobs you can choose to the law student jobs. You can join law firms as interns.

7. Real estate attorney jobs can also be interesting in this field. People who join this field usually get at least $60,000 per annum.

8. Medical attorneys also have a lucrative career.

9. You can try out the position of legal secretaries.

10. Check out the position of celebrity lawyers.