What Is the Economic Outlook for a Career As a Paralegal?

More paralegals are being hired to handle legal duties once done exclusively by lawyers. This is both good and bad news for those pursuing a career in this field. Competition for employment is high, and the best opportunities require paralegals to have formal training and work-related experience. Schools offering Paralegal degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Economic Outlook for a Career as a Paralegal

Paralegals are being hired by companies all across the U.S in an effort to reduce legal costs while maintaining a high-quality operation. Paralegals can perform duties like compiling documents and taking statements, and they are a less expensive option than lawyers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 18% growth rate for this profession between 2010 and 2020, which is slightly faster than the growth expected for other occupations in the U.S. during that period.

Top Employers

The BLS reports the majority of paralegals were employed by private law firms in 2010; however, individuals in this profession may also work for government agencies, corporations and finance and insurance organizations. Community organizations hire these professionals to assist low-income families and elderly with their legal issues. Paralegals will enjoy increased demand where they have industry-specific training and field experience.

Salaries and Benefit Packages

Salaries for paralegals vary by education, work experience, region and employer size. Individuals employed by large metropolitan law firms will earn more than those employed by smaller, rural law firms. According to the BLS, paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of $46,990 during 2012. Workers in this field receive other fringe benefits, such as vacation time, paid sick leave, a retirement plan, a life insurance policy and dental insurance. Some are reimbursed for continuing education courses.

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