The common depiction of paralegals is never flattering. They’ve been regularly depicted as the lawyer’s or attorney’s right hand man, and this involves doing all the menial tasks that they simply don’t have time to do.
Worse, there’s always this general consensus that there’s no advancement in their profession, and that it’s a legal dead end for lack of a better word. But, how true are these stereotypes exactly?
The Paralegal Profession: A Respectable Field
Becoming a paralegal isn’t ‘easier’ than becoming a lawyer or attorney. In fact, what you’ll learn will be more or less the same as your ‘higher’ peers. The main difference is that lawyers will have to take the bar exam to practice law, while you, the paralegal, only need to have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. This means you’ll be doing more of the background work as far as legal proceedings go, but you can be registered and certified.
Now, the common misconception of the paralegal profession is that you’ll only be doing menial tasks as dictated by your job description. While there’s no denying that some of the things you’ll do will be trivial at best, your tasks are generally very challenging. You may have to handle some of the issues and paperwork that the run-of-the-mill legal assistant can’t handle, and this is where your expertise will shine.
You’ll also be directly assisting lawyers and attorneys, which is not exactly a simple job to do. They aren’t your bosses; they’re your counterparts. Whatever work they won’t or can’t do, such as filing paperwork for cases, you’ll be responsible in making the entire process seamless. How’s that for trivial work?
Opportunities and Benefits
The paralegal profession is a respectable field that is just as rewarding as being a lawyer or attorney. While you obviously won’t start out earning a lot of money (as all entry level jobs do), it’s not a far-fetched idea that you can earn a hefty sum as a paralegal. Many who have at least two or three years of work experience in the field are already earning way above the median salary, and have many, if not similar, benefits as their counterparts.
Lack of opportunity is another myth. In fact, there are more paralegals being hired than lawyers and attorneys. The reason is pretty simple – it costs less to hire a paralegal, and they pretty much do the same thing lawyers do in a corporate setting. While your lawyer and attorney counterparts will generally be restricted to law firms and private organizations, you can find a career in a more corporate setting who will be more likely to hire you than your ‘higher’ counterparts.
At The Center of Legal Studies, we provide affordable programs and flexible course schedules for those who want to pursue a career as a paralegal. Our courses are available in live lecture, online, DVD, and text-only formats.