Career Detail


Paralegal and Legal Assistant
Paralegals-also called legal assistants-are continuing to assume a growing range of tasks in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers.
The Job
One of a paralegal's most important tasks is helping lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. Paralegals might investigate the facts of cases and ensure that all relevant information is considered. They also identify appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to assigned cases.
Work Environment
Paralegals handle many routine assignments, particularly when they are inexperienced. As they gain experience, paralegals usually assume more varied tasks with additional responsibility.
College Majors
Bachelor's degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies
Minimum Qualifications
Most entrants have an associate degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers train paralegals on the job.
Personality traits helpful for this career
They need to understand legal terminology and have good research and investigative skills.
Quick Facts
  • Most entrants have an associate degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies.
  • About 7 out of 10 work for law firms; others work for corporate legal departments and government agencies.
  • Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, as employers try to reduce costs by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers.
  • Competition for jobs should continue; experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best employment opportunities.
Compensation and Outlook
Wages 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 general, paralegals who work for large law firms or in large metropolitan areas earn more than those who work for smaller firms or in less populated regions. In May 2008, full-time wage-and-salary paralegals and legal assistants earned $46,120.The middle 50 percent earned between $36,080 and $59,310. The top 10 percen
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