Paralegal Jobs & Employment

The US Government reports that the paralegal jobs market is expected to grow as much as 18% over the next ten years. Thanks to this economic upturn, paralegal schools across the country are seeing an influx in students eager to capitalize on a career field with steadily inclining employment rates and a healthy salary range. Paralegal jobs are found in every part of the country from private law firms to government institutions. While the tasks associated with paralegal jobs might vary slightly depending on area of employment and individual case requirements, some facets of the job description remain immutable.

Paralegal Job Description

Often times, paralegals possess the same technical skills required of lawyers except that paralegals cannot practice law. This means that paralegal job duties are often concerned with preparing attorneys for court cases in every way imaginable. However, paralegals cannot set legal fees, give legal advice, or present a case in court.

Under an attorney’s supervision, most paralegals have a wide range of responsibilities. Some of the specific duties that they perform include:

Your specific duties as a paralegal or legal assistant will mainly depend on your work environment. For example, the paralegal job description within the federal government may be moderately different than what’s required at a corporation.

How to Find Paralegal Jobs

Currently, there over 256,000 paralegals working throughout the country. While you are working towards your degree, you can start applying for entry-level paralegal jobs. In addition, your school may have a career services program where they can help you draft resumes and prepare for interviews.

The best way to secure high paying paralegal jobs is to further your education beyond your degree. This may include enrolling in an internship program, or even seeking a paralegal certification. There are several certification exams available through different organizations. By passing one of these exams, you will be demonstrating to potential employers that you have the skills needed to perform the work expected of a legal assistant.

Different Types of Paralegal Jobs

As a paralegal, most of your time will be spent in either the office or a law library. Depending on what type of paralegal job you have, you might, from time to time, be asked to go on information gathering trips but that isn’t considered the norm. While most paralegal jobs are found in private law firms, many paralegals work for corporate law firms. Below is a breakdown of the most common industries for paralegal jobs:

Industry  Percentage
Legal services 70%
State and local government 9%
Federal government 6%
Finance and insurance 4%

Earnings for Paralegal Jobs

Although some paralegal jobs are temporary positions available near the busy season at the end of the year, a majority of paralegals work full-time. It’s also not uncommon for paralegals working at larger firms to be asked to work overtime or stay late to help finish case notes and other responsibilities. On average, paralegal jobs in the US pay around $46,000 per year. This number might fluctuate depending on location, work experience and education level. Additionally, paralegal salary rates within the federal government and major corporations are generally higher than at small law firms and local government agencies. The states with the highest paying paralegal jobs are California, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois.

Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.