If you are thinking about becoming a paralegal, you will want to make sure to take a balanced approach before starting a new career.
There's always the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to any occupation, but looking at each point realistically will help you decide if it's the job for you.
To help you, I have compiled a list of the pros and cons of becoming a paralegal.
The following list of pros about the paralegal profession will give you the best positive vantage point of paralegal job duties and what it can offer as a lifetime pursuit.
There is no doubt that you need to like crafting documents, doing research, and analyzing, but there are other considerations beyond a technical love for the mechanics of the job.
Different types of paralegal specialties
Paralegal careers are available in a wide selection of businesses and industries.
All you have to envision is the difference in attorney specialties and know that it breaks down even more from that.
An attorney that specializes in family law will need assistance with divorce cases, child custody, child support and adoption, just to name a few areas.
This means that a paralegal can assist with one or two of these areas and then another paralegal can assist with other specialties.
The work opportunities are almost endless since the areas of expertise are so specific.
Ease of Entry
If you are truly interested in the paralegal field, then there is a way to get started without investing a lot of money in starting the career.
You can start at a low level position in a law firm or attorney office and get training as you go or you can get a certificate if you have a degree already.
The certificate takes about 6 to 9 months and is relatively inexpensive.
You can also get a traditional degree such as an associate's, bachelor's, or master's in paralegal studies.
There is a lot of flexibility in legal assistant education requirements and ways to start your career as a paralegal professional.
Attorneys will always need help with the mountains of paperwork and research that is needed to successfully deal with legal cases.
There is not any expected change in how law is practiced, which means the same amount of work will greet an attorney whether he or she has help or not.
This means that it is one of the most stable jobs you can have.
There is a large pool of attorney offices and large firms that keep a regular pool of paralegal openings available.
Even though there are no registration and licensing requirements to be a paralegal to date, there is an ever expanding respect growing for the field.
There are more and more larger corporations and companies that are seeing the value of having an attorney and paralegals on the payroll.
This means that there are more openings in the corporate and industrial sector.
As more paralegals make the move to corporate specialties, it opens up paralegal opportunities in a variety of other arenas.
The great thing about the legal field is that it is less dependent on the economy for expansion.
There is always a need for legal protection and documentation.
You need to also take an honest look at what some of the more negative aspects of a paralegal career offer.
It is an office job, but it's a far cry from being a secretary.
It can be a highly demanding profession that rewards you with a ton of work and very little recognition outside of your circle of fellow paralegal experts.
Understanding every nuance of the paralegal profession will help you make the right decision for you.
Being a paralegal can be stressful. This is especially true if you work in a busy law firm that has a thriving practice.
Creating and meeting deadlines can be a real balancing act when you are having to deal with the schedules of clients, attorneys and the courts.
There can be serious consequences for clients if deadlines on legal documents and hearings aren't met.
A majority of the legal research and writing for a case will fall on your shoulders. This could present a problem if you aren't organized and up for a challenge.
Long Work Hours
Due to the difficult of working miracles on getting everyone's schedules to mesh, there will be many times that a paralegal has to work after hours and on the weekends.
This is even more necessary when important cases are approaching deadlines that have to be met.
You might find yourself finishing the paperwork for a court motion at midnight and then have to be back in the office by 8 the morning.
Many times personal plans have to be sidelined. It can also increase things like child care expenses if you are a single parent.
Being effective as a paralegal means specializing in certain areas of the law.
This means you will be revisiting a lot of cases and case types in the course of your career.
You will be writing a lot of similar legal briefs and motions.
The typing, note taking and strategies can all seem a bit tedious after awhile. Repetitive job duties can make your day seem painfully predictable and boring.
There's not a lot of opportunity to deal with cases that are exciting. Most will be very dull, even if they are necessary.
In a small law firm or single attorney office there is virtually no chance for advancement as a paralegal.
Your job will be assisting the attorney on a daily basis. As the only paralegal you will kept pretty busy.
In larger firms or corporations with legal departments, you might have some chance for advancement.
Anytime there is more than one or two paralegals, there is a chance to be the top performer.
It will take getting degrees in the field or having a lot of years of experience to qualify to supervise the work of other paralegal professionals.
I hope this information about the pros and cons of a paralegal career has been useful.