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becoming a paralegal. The paralegal acts as the attorney’s right hand, performing legal research, interviewing clients, preparing legal documents and analyzing evidence.
What do paralegals make?
How much you will make as a paralegal depends on several factors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on the labor market and publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook every two years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of paralegals and legal assistants in May 2010 in was $46,680. The Occupational Outlook handbook also states, “As employers try to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of legal services, they are expected to hire more paralegals and legal assistants. Following the cutbacks experienced during the recent recession, some law firms are rebuilding their support staff by hiring paralegals. Paralegals can be a less costly alternative to lawyers and perform a wider variety of duties, including tasks once done by lawyers. This will cause an increase in demand for paralegals and legal assistants.”
Where do you work?
About 70 percent of all paralegals work for private law firms according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The size of the law firm will affect how much you get paid. As you can guess, large law firms typically pay more than smaller law firms. Paralegals are also employed by corporate legal departments, courts, government agencies, health care industry, and financial institutions.
As a paralegal, you can work in many different legal settings including the courts, government agencies, health care industry, financial institutions, corporations, and of course, law firms. About 70 percent of all paralegals work for private law firms according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries can vary depending on your employer and your job responsibilities. The size of the law firm will affect how much you get paid. As you can guess, large law firms typically pay more than smaller law firms.
You can choose from many areas of law in the legal field. Litigation, mediation, criminal law, family law, real estate, bankruptcy, immigration, copyrights or trademarks, corporate law, wills and probate, patents, or administrative law are just some of the many choices available to you.
Geography also affects paralegal salaries. Paralegals who are employed in larger cities or larger states typically have higher salaries than those that are employed in less populated areas. Check with your state or local paralegal association for salary information for your local salary information.
Whichever career path you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to apply paralegal skills in many arenas in the legal field. The Bureau of Labor statistics expects that employment of paralegals and legal assistants to grow by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations and experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best job prospects.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants, on the Internet. (visited July 06, 2012).