Just like any other profession, there are advantages and disadvantages to being a paralegal.
If you are thinking about becoming a paralegal, this list is for you!
Paralegals play an important role in the legal field.
They assist attorneys in a variety of legal tasks such as conducting research, creating legal documents, and speaking with clients.
While there is a good side to becoming a paralegal, the job also comes with several drawbacks.
Pros of Being a Paralegal
1. Great Stability/Demand
The job outlook for paralegals is excellent because they are always in high demand.
Between 2019 and 2029, employment of paralegals is expected to increase to 10 percent.
This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There is a constant need for legal services in various industries such as real estate, healthcare, and finance.
If you become a paralegal, you can feel confident knowing that you have a stable career.
2. Opportunities for Advancement
Being a paralegal means you’ll have plenty of opportunities for advancement.
The more experience you have, the more doors you’ll open.
For example, paralegals can become law firm managers, legal analysts, and even senior paralegals.
It’s also very typical for paralegals to move forward to law school to become lawyers.
This means that you don’t have to retire as a paralegal.
If you are looking for more of a challenge, you can easily move up the ladder.
3. Work Varies
A paralegal’s workload varies.
There isn’t anything boring about a paralegal’s job.
Every day presents a challenge.
Paralegals handle various tasks and work on different aspects of the law such as family law and criminal law.
You will have plenty of opportunities to learn something new.
If you like a career with challenges and change, this could very well be the perfect career choice for you.
4. Bar Exam Not Required
If you aren’t willing to go through the additional eight years of schooling to become an attorney, being a paralegal may be the perfect fit for you.
No bar exam is required to become a paralegal, unlike an attorney.
However, what is required to become a paralegal is a certificate or associate’s degree.
Additionally, you’ll have plenty of chances to work within the criminal justice system.
This means you will still have the chance to make a huge difference.
5. Flexibility in Schedule
Working as a paralegal means you can enjoy having a lot of flexibility in your schedule.
However, there will be times when you have appointments on your calendar that you can’t miss.
The good news is that if you have children and a family to take care of, you will have a lot of free time to tend to them.
6. Practical Salary
Paralegals may have a decent salary.
On average, they make $56,000 annually.
Some paralegals on the lower end make at least $37,000, while those on the higher end can make up to $95,000.
These numbers are a lot higher than the average profession that requires you to have a two-year degree.
On average, those careers pay $52,000 each year.
The more experience you have as a paralegal, the more you will earn.
7. Make a Difference in Clients Lives
Another huge perk of being a paralegal is being able to make a difference in the clients’ lives you are helping.
Your job is to ensure that clients get the justice they deserve.
You may also be responsible for defending clients in various cases.
If you enjoy helping people, this could be the perfect career for you.
It’s a great way to give back to the community.
8. Plenty of Opportunities to Network
If you do plan on advancing in your career as a paralegal, you will love the fact that you will have plenty of opportunities to network.
You will meet various people in the legal field from law enforcement officials to judges.
If you are good at what you do, these connections can lead you to a higher-paying position elsewhere.
Paralegals also have access to joining organizations to allow them to network.
Some of these organizations include NALA and the National Association of Legal Secretaries.
9. Work Environment Varies
Not only will the type of work you do as a paralegal vary, but the work environment also varies.
For example, paralegals may work in courts, banks, law firms, government agencies, nonprofits, and more.
This provides you with many options to choose from.
Maybe you want to only deal with certain types of law such as employment or corporate.
If you choose to specialize in employment law, you may consider working for an advocacy group.
Cons of Being a Paralegal
1. Work Long Hours
While you may have a flexible schedule, you will still have to work long hours.
Additionally, you will be faced with a high workload.
But, this will largely depend on the caseload of the attorney you are working for.
There may be times when you have a lot of free time in your schedule.
But other times, you will have long days.
This is definitely a commitment you must decide whether you want to make.
2. A lot of Pressure
Working as a paralegal comes with a lot of pressure.
Many people in the office will depend on you.
Clients are also relying on you.
Even the smallest errors on your part could result in serious consequences.
While some people work well under pressure, others tend to fall apart when faced with too much stress.
If you get overwhelmed easily, you may want to reconsider a career as a paralegal.
3. School is Required
Attorneys obviously spend a lot of time in school.
This isn’t the case if you are considering becoming a paralegal.
However, you will need to obtain a certificate or at least an associate’s degree.
This could take anywhere between 1–2 years.
If you’re looking to avoid college or want to start a new career right away, this could be a huge disadvantage for you.
4. Tedious Cases
As a paralegal, you don’t have the authority to pick and choose which cases you want to work on.
As a result, you will face tedious cases from time to time.
While the job of a paralegal is interesting, you will have unfavorable moments.
There will also be times when you must complete work that could otherwise put you to sleep.
5. Requires Consistent Learning
Learning about the law doesn’t stop once you have graduated with your paralegal certificate.
Once you have landed your first job as a paralegal, you will constantly learn new things.
While this may seem exciting in the beginning, you must be willing to put in the hard work.
You will forever be expanding your skills, which may or may sound favorable to you.
6. Not a lot of Acknowledgment
Paralegals have very little power when it comes to providing legal advice to clients and signing briefs/pleadings.
While they do a lot of work, they don’t receive enough credit.
The attorney will be responsible for giving advice to their clients and signing pleadings, etc.
Most paralegals may not feel acknowledged.
Additionally, there are some attorneys who only use their assistants to perform administrative tasks instead of more in-depth legal work like they are capable of performing.
7. Plenty of Dull Tasks
Besides drafting legal documents and performing legal research, there are plenty of menial tasks involved in a paralegal’s daily duties.
These small tasks can take up your workday.
You will have to make copies, answer phones, and organize your attorney’s calendar.
Additionally, you may have to check in clients, set up conference rooms, and file paperwork.
8. Little Room for Advancement
Even though there are opportunities to grow within your field, you can only go so far.
Being a paralegal leaves little room for advancement unless you go back to school and earn a higher degree.
You may work your way up to an office manager or senior paralegal, but these opportunities are scarce in smaller law firms.
Should You Become a Paralegal?
If you are passionate about the law, becoming a paralegal may seem like a good fit for you.
If you have legal experience, the transition to becoming a paralegal may work out perfectly for you.
However, while becoming a paralegal may mean making a good salary and making a difference in people’s lives, there are also several downsides to the job.
You will have many long days and will face a lot of pressure.
This is a career that you must be 100 percent sure about pursuing.
If you think you have what it takes, a career as a paralegal can be very rewarding.
Pros and Cons of Being a Paralegal Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Paralegal||Cons of Being a Paralegal|
|Great Stability/Demand||Work Long Hours|
|Opportunities for Advancement||A lot of Pressure|
|Work Varies||School is Required|
|Bar Exam Not Required||Tedious Cases|
|Flexibility in Schedule||Requires Consistent Learning|
|Practical Salary||Not a lot of Acknowledgment|
|Make a Difference in Clients Lives||Plenty of Dull Tasks|
|Plenty of Opportunities to Network||Little Room for Advancement|
|Work Environment Varies|