Co-Founder & CAO
Center for Advanced
When most people think of entering the legal profession, they immediately think of attending law school to become an attorney. However, the huge number of law school graduates combined with the scarcity of attorney jobs in recent years may lead would-be law students to consider another path: becoming a paralegal.
According to CareerCast.com, the paralegal profession was ranked #1 on their 2011 list of the Most Underrated Jobs in America. Such a ranking is intriguing and suggests great opportunity for those interested in a legal career.
Being a paralegal topped the list of careers that may not have the name recognition of an attorney or doctor, but have an abundance of great qualities that have been overlooked. Jennifer Dahms, a paralegal at a Milwaukee law firm says "I have the best of both worlds. I get to do the work that I want, but I don’t have the high demands that a lawyer does." She adds "I wouldn’t say that my job is underrated. I would say it’s equally balanced. I get to take vacations, leave work, and have a life."
Careers on the list typically had median-to-high income levels, lower stress, minimal physical demands, lower environmental dangers, and a lower than average unemployment rate. Let’s examine some of these factors a bit closer and learn why becoming a paralegal can be a satisfying career path.
Paralegals can do almost everything an attorney does (setting client fees, giving legal advice, and accepting or rejecting clients are the exceptions). They make a difference in the lives of their attorney and clients by conducting legal research and preparation, interviewing clients and witnesses, drafting correspondence and pleadings, attending and summarizing depositions, assisting their attorney in court, and many other important tasks. If your goal is to make a real, positive difference in the lives of others, becoming a paralegal will allow you to do that on a daily basis.
Depending on your education and experience, becoming a paralegal can be quite lucrative. Starting paralegal salaries for graduates of Center for Advanced Legal Studies averaged $30 - $34,000 with the top of the salary range up to $69,900 for the 2010-2011 reporting year. Earnings are dependent on a variety of factors including experience, employer, and job location.
Employment Expected to Increase
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers are expected to hire more paralegals to cut down on costs and increase the efficiency of legal services. Another bit of good news: the BLS also noted that paralegals’ work is less likely to be outsourced to other countries than that of other legal workers.
The paralegal profession has grown over the past thirty years and has evolved into an interesting and satisfying career field with job opportunities available in a variety of legal practice areas such as family, corporate law, immigration, real estate, intellectual property and more. Qualified paralegals can enjoy the work of the profession without carrying the burden of responsibility required of an attorney.
Of course, becoming a paralegal requires the proper paralegal training. The majority of employed paralegals have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and a paralegal certificate. Center for Advanced Legal Studies specializes exclusively in the education of paralegals. We offer both a Paralegal Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science Paralegal Degree that can be completed through our on-campus or paralegal online options. In addition, we are dedicated to supporting our students with full career development services and externship opportunities.