If someone asked you why you decided to become a paralegal, what would you say?
Learn the pros and cons of this potentially rewarding legal career path that also does present itself with many challenges.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Pros of Being a Paralegal
- 2 Cons Of Being a Paralegal
- 3 Should You Become a Paralegal?
- 4 Pros and Cons of Being a Paralegal – Summary Table
Pros of Being a Paralegal
You can use your experience working in a legal environment when you decide to look for an attorney position someday.
Alternatively, you can also use this time to learn how to conduct business in a professional setting.
Knowing as much as you can about how to operate a firm will come in handy if you ever decide to have your own practice.
Your paralegal career might also take you to other places you never expect, such as perhaps teaching law to high school students or children someday.
You might not earn as much as you would if you did become a lawyer.
However, you could make at least $60,000 a year or more while only attending about half of the schooling as would an attorney.
You do not even have to be a criminal lawyer either, although, some people might find that more exciting than working in a corporate law firm or municipal court.
Gives You Practical Experience
Examples of daily duties paralegals perform include speaking with witnesses, preparing motions for attorneys, completing case paperwork, and hand-delivering documents to either the courts or to clients.
You will also become acquainted with how a law office is run when employed as a paralegal.
Perhaps you spent time working as an office assistant, and maybe you felt bored because perhaps you did not work in the legal department.
Even though you might spend quite a bit of time performing many office tasks, you also will have access to cases that make you feel like you are a part of something huge, such as a corporate, criminal, or civil case.
No Bar Exam Required
This benefits you if you just do not have it in you to attend up to eight years of school to become a lawyer.
You still have opportunities to work within the justice system making a difference in your own way.
No bar exam like what the lawyers must pass is required of you either if you work as a paralegal.
You probably will not have to worry about finding paralegal work.
The need for someone trained for this occupation will possibly increase by about four percent within the next 10 years.
Opportunities in Many Locations
You are not necessarily confined to just one state, although, you will want to check the requirements of where you live.
Confirm your rights and responsibilities regardless of the location where you would move to.
You will find that with a willingness to travel a bit you should not have trouble finding gainful employment as a paralegal.
Stimulates Your Intellectual Side
Staying busy may make you feel useful, whereas most people probably do not want to work at a job where they feel like they are just wasting their lives.
You will not have much time to dwell on your personal problems when working in a law office either.
In the process, you will also receive some intellectual stimulation as you rub shoulders with attorneys.
Possible Schedule Flexibility
Although you might have appointments you cannot miss, working as a paralegal may have at least some downtime.
This benefits you if you have children to raise or a senior parent who needs your assistance.
Opens You Up Related Opportunities
Maybe you always dreamed of becoming a writer.
If so, your experience as a paralegal could make you an expert in many things concerning the law.
In fact, there is such a career path called “journalism law,” which you could pursue if you also seek a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Other opportunities include working for a government agency, a non-profit organization, a media company, or a health care facility.
You never know.
Cons Of Being a Paralegal
Sometimes Long Hours
Do not think that just because you do not get paid as much as a lawyer that you will not have to work as many hours.
Well, most of the time you will not have to.
However, your team expects that you will make yourself available while a tough case is still pending.
Sometimes, you will not have much free time for days or weeks at a time – maybe even months.
You might learn more about people than you want to know.
It could affect your attitudes toward them, especially if your firm ends up taking on clients from within your social circle.
Sometimes, this also causes you to face situations that may be a “conflict of interest” to you.
For instance, perhaps you did not know as much as you thought you knew about your best friend, who now maybe has been charged with theft.
In some cases, you might also have to work for lawyers who defend criminals they know are guilty.
Sometimes, it ends up becoming a game of deals and feels just a bunch of shady business negotiations.
Do not let it discourage you, however.
Possibly Boring Cases
Of course, everyone needs a job and has to sometimes take the first opportunity offered to them.
If you can at all help it, try not to take on a paralegal job that you know you will hate.
Do not do it unless you have to.
Some city jobs might bore you if all it is, is traffic cases.
Periodically Heavy Workload
Sometimes, paralegals have taken on too much of a lawyer’s responsibilities.
If you do not want to perform attorney duties without having the kind of salary that a lawyer makes, be careful.
Only do the work you have been assigned unless you feel that taking on extra tasks will help you during your tenure at law school.
Not As Much Authority
You might have just as much knowledge as a lawyer, especially if you already have several years of legal training and experience behind you.
However, you sometimes might feel helpless because you cannot make the kinds of decisions someone with a law degree can make.
Notwithstanding, you can benefit from becoming a paralegal if you work for the right firm.
Easier Ways To Make Money
Much is required of you for the money you could earn as a paralegal, even if all you acquire is a two-year associate degree.
The training also costs more than for other professions, such as truck driving or some mid-level security guard positions.
Extensive Education Required
You do not have to attend school for as long as a lawyer must.
However, you still may need to obtain a bachelor’s degree for some positions.
Take time to research the different types of paralegals you could become.
Moreover, make sure the level of education required fits the positions for which you plan to apply.
This occupation requires some experience, but you also do not want to sell yourself short.
Sometimes Intense Pressure
You are not as much in the public eye as is a lawyer.
However, you still have the burden of watching what you do and say even if you have no intention of becoming a lawyer.
Do not assume that you could not ever become subject to scrutiny just working as a legal assistant.
Your reputation will more than likely be on the line more than once.
Should You Become a Paralegal?
If you have a passion for the law, becoming a paralegal may seem like a logical move.
You might also find the transition somewhat smooth if you already work in an office environment.
After spending time performing clerical duties in a business environment, your familiarity with “office politics” could suit you regardless of the category of law.
If you decide to become a paralegal, you might want to specialize in the same emphasis you would choose if you applied to law school.
Keep in mind also this:
You are not the lawyer if you work in a law office, so you do not have as much weighing on you as an attorney does.
In some scenarios, you can just “shake off” your worries and let your superiors handle them.
It is probably easier for you to carry on with your day than those who work “above you.”
You must make sure you really want to pursue this career path because it is not for the faint-hearted, however.
Some issues you face while working in a legal setting do affect you whether you want them to or not.
Pros and Cons of Being a Paralegal – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Paralegal||Cons Of Being a Paralegal|
|Career Steppingstone||Sometimes Long Hours|
|Decent Salary||Ethical Challenges|
|Gives You Practical Experience||Possibly Boring Cases|
|More Interesting||Periodically Heavy Workload|
|No Bar Exam Required||Not As Much Authority|
|Increased Need||Easier Ways To Make Money|
|Opportunities in Many Locations||Extensive Education Required|
|Stimulates Your Intellectual Side||Sometimes Intense Pressure|
|Possible Schedule Flexibility|
|Opens You Up Related Opportunities|