Learning to be a Paralegal: Pros and Cons

Real Responsibility in the Heat of Legal Conflict

When I was 35 years old, I obtained my paralegal diploma and questioned aloud if that would lead to any kind of “career.” Young baby boomers in the 1970s who had earned liberal arts degrees were uncertain about their future prospects. Many people had hoped that getting both the degree and the certificate would allow them to enter a field that was genuinely expanding. Thankfully, most people found that to be a viable strategy. Many of today’s paralegals have been in the field since the middle of the 1980s.

Almost a decade later, in 1995, paralegal textbooks were stating, “Yes, there is a place for men in the paralegal world, and all paralegals regardless of gender are going to be working, not only in law firms, but in government and corporate settings.”

There is now, without a shadow of a doubt, thousands of people working in this field. In the middle of the Legal Maze, a paralegal can play a useful function.

Changes throughout Time Caused by Advances in Science and Medicine –

It became clear in the 1970s that there was a need for a paraprofessional to operate “above” the legal secretary and “below” the attorney/lawyer as a result of technological advancements and the subsequent increase in the scope of legal work. Yes, it has always been and still is predominately a female-dominated field. Concerns aside, men have entered and established themselves in this field, maybe to a greater extent than was originally anticipated. Nonetheless, it remains a career path for young women. Do any baby boomers still toil there? Yes. In addition to all of the paralegals with at least 10 years of experience, there are also some with 30–40 years of experience. The message to “smarten up with technology” has always been around, so do not let that throw you off.

How proficient are you with Microsoft Excel, Word, Outlook, and Power Point? Software and specialised proprietary characteristics are available for adoption, education, and enhancement. Yet another caution. Be careful not to overstate your level of sophistication. The question “just how good are you at” —- appears in a lot of technological applications today. It is useful to be aware of these since there are significant gaps between someone who is proficient with EXCEL on indexes and informational spreadsheets and someone who is proficient with all the formulae built into Excel. The applicant may be asked to demonstrate proficiency with the several litigation-specific software packages that are now standard fare. A paralegal with intermediate experience will be expected to use the bankruptcy filing programme EZFILING.

Today, “There is an app for that,” since technology is king.

Used to be, “Can you type?” was a question asked, especially of men. Do you really think you can type this? But there have been tremendous shifts in the world. The old and new paralegal must be prepared, eager, and trained in new requirements brought about by the widespread availability of digital tools and the widespread shift toward a “paperless” legal system. The entire judicial system is being disrupted by EFILING. This is an obvious requirement, but it is becoming more and more apparent that a prospective paralegal who does not have experience with a certain piece of software may not even receive an interview.
Desire to Understand –

The paralegal character and talent profile should be characterised by a hunger for knowledge. You can not just tell them what to do; they have to be able to learn and change. All of these should be highlighted in your application materials and interview prep. Word processing and data processing skills, which are essential in this field, come more naturally to applicants who are younger and have grown up with computers. However, young people may lack experience to prepare them for the realities of the workplace, including salary and advancement.

How About a Pay Raise and a Promotion?

The paralegal’s position between the secretary and the attorney makes the “upward and onward” component of the salary and advancement question unique. It is important to note the remarkable highs that exist before discussing the lows. The “dotcom boom” was a time when many employees made six figures at a single company. If there is no in-house lawyer, a paralegal can step up and shine in terms of compensation and impact. It is a distinct benefit. Compensation can begin at the level of a newly-minted lawyer. This exemplory case demonstrates how the paralegal industry has expanded into new and exciting areas outside of traditional law firms. Pay in the legal practise has been fairly competitive. An attorney’s salary often increases gradually with experience and seniority within a company. Large corporations do pay fairly, but working there can be stressful due to the high volume of work and the long hours required. Therefore, it is difficult to make broad statements regarding salary without mentioning the numerous outliers.

The salary, especially at the lower levels, might be quite poor. Paralegals in solo practises, small businesses, and law offices might earn relatively low salaries. Earning $12 to $15 per hour is commonplace in many of those fields. In some of these scenarios, $30,000 a year is an unrealistic expectation.

If we are being honest, a salary of $40,000 to $45,000 may be deemed excessive. Proven, long-term, highly-skilled, and specialised paralegals can earn salaries in the 50s and 60s after several years in the field. But, in a nutshell, there is no upward mobility in this field. In most cases, you will not find job postings that require ten or more years of experience while looking at advertising that specify a desired level of expertise. Twenty-five years of experience are available, but nobody seems to want it. You will encounter phrases like “three to five years” in advertisements. Why? Do they want to wait 10 years? Sure. Ten years of experience as a paralegal does not pay off. Salaries increase with both experience and seniority. If you are looking for a wide range, choose the $30,000–$50,000 bracket, keeping in mind that there will be extremes on both sides of the spectrum.

Are You Planning to Attend Law School? –

Becoming a paralegal has allowed people who are on the fence about a career in law to dip their toes in the field without making a full commitment. The time spent not attending law school does not have to be considered a “waste” of a young person’s life if that person uses that time to learn and make important decisions. or they can decide to go law school, where they will likely benefit intellectually and emerge more confident in their choice. In my experience, those who have taken this route have almost universally viewed it favourably, regardless of the outcome of their law school application decision.

Two years into her paralegal career, a middle-aged woman stopped by the Placements Office to say hello. She told Chris, “I am enrolled in law school now.” To put it simply, I hoped the best for her. After 10 years, I caught her on TV, being interviewed about a major criminal case in Southern Colorado. A paralegal’s job is an option for lawyers because of this.

Putting Your Career in a Shelter of Professional Dependence

If you are “part of the woodwork” at a small firm, a crucial member of a litigation team at a major firm, or a Sole Practitioner who relies solely upon this paralegal, you may be able to command a high salary and regular promotions. Professional and personal dependability are the real factors in determining salary and job security. Long-term security can be attained through cultivating a connection with an attorney who thinks you “walk on water.”

A word of caution: the advantage here clearly lies with the employer, as you cannot keep demanding more and higher wages just because of your increasing seniority. Relationships in the workplace can be quite rewarding and enjoyable if they are healthy and not abusive. You may keep the peace in these connections by opting for less monetary reward and more satisfaction in the form of things like flexible scheduling, paid time off, and other forms of leisure time.

Clusters of Legal Assistants –

Companies, organisations, and governments are staffed with people with job titles like “Contract Administrator,” “Legal Manager,” and others. Paralegal can also imply “Nonlawyer specifically required legal work for the particular milieu that we deal with in this company,” which is more accurately what we mean when we use the term. You got that right; it is still developing. What is great, though, is that everyone understands one another. A paralegal is a non-attorney with specialised legal training.

A wide variety of specialisations

Experience in the fields of finance, title insurance, construction, litigation, personal injury, intellectual property, domestic, and insolvency are all acceptable. A paralegal’s attitude should be one of eagerness to learn more in-depth skills and openness to trying new things. The trick is to work on both simultaneously, expanding one’s horizons while strengthening one’s foundation. This is one of the best parts about working as a paralegal. A lot of people’s expectations from the start have been met. Many people are entering the field with the expectation of finding it intellectually and emotionally rewarding. Many people will say that everything you listed contributed to it.

If the setting sounds good to you –

If I were advising a young kid or a person in the middle of their career about entering this field, there is one overarching question I would pose first. Do you find this universe interesting? Do not get into law if you have a strong aversion to attorneys. If you are always disrupting established norms and regulations, then you should not bother. If you are the egotistical type that wants to avoid constraint, sales is not the field for you.

Several Drawbacks –

A few red flags must be dropped at your feet. Although lawyers are all unique people, there are certain commonalities in their personalities. The first misconception is that they have about their own intelligence. It is only natural that they imagine themselves to be more enlightened than you. There is a common misconception among lawyers that they are the most knowledgeable professionals in the field. In spite of the fact that they put on a mask of confidence every day, they are actually just very opinionated people.

It is not intellectual hubris, but it is still quite pompous. They basically generally carry around an attitude of superiority that aids them in their daily tasks. However, this is good news for everyone except the paralegal. Take this with a grain of salt and try to maintain a cheerful attitude. Keep in mind that these are the students who decided they were not smart enough to become doctors but still went to school because they wanted to prove to themselves that they were worthy. They also understood, “I just need to finish law school, and then I can call myself an attorney for the rest of my life.” Totally awesome.

Due to their confidence in their own abilities, individuals may be prone to sloth. They put forth an incredible amount of effort, but it is exhausting. They fail to account for how challenging it actually is to earn a profit. Then, by definition, they must always be at odds with one another. But if you take a more optimistic view of the situation, you can see how the paralegal profession is destined to grow in this environment. This persistent stress prevents them from completing a lot of tasks. They are relieved to have paralegals to assist them because they carry a heavy load. Anything you can do to improve their financial situation and decrease the amount of stress they are under would be greatly appreciated. Accept that as the way things are. Consider the “big untalked about” — your need for legal counsel — a boon, a huge, amazing boon. You will have a fruitful professional experience and the opportunity to undertake interesting and difficult work in the world if you can approach it with an attitude of enlightenment and without hatred.

Exciting Payoff –

Once these pieces come together in a coherent whole, the payoff is substantial. This is an exciting and difficult world. The attorneys you wind up working with will be the “flora and fauna” of the legal forest you are working and moving in, and a crucial component of the universe in which you labour and move. That is one of the most exciting and difficult jobs out there. And you will not even need a law degree to take part!