Think You’re Cut Out for a Paralegal Law Degree? Take This Quiz
Is a professional paralegal law degree in your future? If you’re a high school graduate or hold a General Educational Diploma (GED), you’re steps away from beginning a professional career as an important team member of the intricate legal system.
Take this brief quiz to find out if work as a paralegal may be a good choice.
- Have you been to the local courthouse?
While it’s certainly not a prerequisite, having prior experiences with; obtaining a marriage license, applying for a passport, obtaining an official copy of birth certificates, paying for parking/minor traffic tickets; then you have a feeling for the inner workings of the legal system.Most of the inter-workings and exchanges between civilians and the legal system revolve around paperwork, strict time frames, paying fees, and other administrative exchanges. The law is more than the glamorous activity of a reality courtroom.Life as a paralegal may seem monotonous or cumbersome to someone without any experience or prior dealings with the legal system. Having even small encounters of waiting in a number of lines for a driver’s license helps bring about a truer understanding of some aspects of work for and work with the government. The paralegal will likely and frequently experience the same system with strict specifications.
- Do you enjoy being technically correct?
Paralegals must pay attention to the fine details. Seemingly minute information may mean the difference between a case being won, postponed, or even lost. Natural tendencies to pick over data and catch discrepancies may prove useful in this line of work. If you often find yourself correcting information or catching errors and discrepancies, paralegal law work may line up naturally with your individual personality.
- Do you work well under pressure, responding well to multiple demands and tight deadlines?
The paralegal will often handle multiple case files at once. An ability to mentally order caseloads while possessing fast recall will make this type of career more individually suited. Still, any individual who is highly motivated to stay organized can work as an efficient paralegal.The best paralegals are able to keep calm during moments of rush. Even in high demand or high stress and tense situations, the professional paralegal will benefit from being composed, focused and capable of maintaining organizational order.
- Do you enjoy working as part of a team?
The main function of the professional paralegal plays a vital support role for the law firm, law organization or governmental agency. If being part of a greater purpose is fulfilling and personally motivating, the position of a professional paralegal may be a good match.
After considering answers for those five questions, a further look into the position should prove informative. It’s important to weigh all aspects of a potential career decision including personal preferences (thus indicating success and individual fulfillment/enjoyment in work), the future of the field, and more. Some basic questions about this career along with general answers can be found below. These points can be helpful when considering a personal future in this field of work.
Conceptualizing the Position of the Professional Paralegal
A paralegal is a person qualified with training, education, and/or experience to perform substantive legal work. This legal work requires an understanding of legal concepts. Generally, but not always, this work would be performed by a lawyer. The professional paralegal supports a lawyer or law firm, etc. with case and law research and by preparing and filing reports. Additional work may include, but is not limited to, making phone calls, answering case specific questions, providing paperwork to and/or communicating with courts, clients or other members connected with a case. Other similar positions would include a Legal Assistant (requiring more education) and Legal Secretary (requiring less training).
Professional Paralegals & Their Employers
As indicated previously, paralegals may work for private lawyers, independent law firms, a government agency, public courts, police forces, or other entity. Paralegals may also be self-employed though this is less common.
Professional Paralegal Employment Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a growth rate of 17% for paralegals and legal assistants through the year, 2022. With the national average of all occupations at a growth rate of only 11%, paralegals can expect above average employment opportunities (data given as of January 2014) over the next eight years.
Taking into account the employment availability, both in the immediate future and distant future, is wise when considering career path options.
Professional Paralegal Average Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for Paralegals was $49,960 in 2011. This hourly average is $24.02.
While national averages can be an indicator of expected earning potentials, the actual salary will vary by state, city, organization, and at times, from employees depending on varying stipulations like length of service with the employing company and education.
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