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Law, Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Careers in Law, Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Earnings Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings of paralegals and legal assistants vary greatly. Salaries depend on education, training, experience, the type and size of employer, and the geographic location of the job. In May 2004, full-time wage and salary paralegals and legal assistants had median annual earnings, including bonuses, of $39,130. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,040 and $49,950. The top 10 percent earned more than $61,390, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $25,360.

Facts at a glance

  • About 7 out of 10 work for law firms; others work for corporate legal departments and government agencies.
  • Most entrants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor’s degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies.
  • Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, as employers try to reduce costs by hiring paralegals to perform tasks formerly carried out by lawyers.
  • Competition for jobs should continue; experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best employment opportunities.

Summary of what this career entails

Paralegals work a 40-hour week and work very long hours and are under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines. When the work load reduces, they are usually release but when the workload picks up they can be employed for a long time. To become a paralegal, most students study a 2 year community college paralegal program and receive extensive training. Most employers require certification.

Examples and or details of work

Paralegals execute very important functions, for example, they help draft contracts, mortgages, separation agreements, and preparing tax returns. They also help lawyers help for closings, hearings, trails, and corporate meetings. Paralegals are not allowed to practice law for example, setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and presenting cases in court.

Degrees that lead to this career

Some of the degrees an individual can attain include:

  • Paralegal, Legal Assistant Certificate
  • A.S. in Legal Assistant/Paralegal Studies
  • B.S. in Legal Assistant/Paralegal Studies

Specific Career openings in this field
If you are an individual who wants to get into paralegal or legal assistant positions can work in many different areas of the law. For example, they can work in litigation, personal injury, corporate law, family law, labor law and many much more.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants, on the Internet at (visited October 31, 2006).