Paralegals, or legal assistants, assist lawyers in a wide
range of activities. Lawyers remain responsible for paralegals’ work (in
general, paralegals may not themselves give legal advice, set fees or represent
clients in court). In the litigation area, for example, paralegals may
interview prospective clients, research the law, prepare court documents and
assist at trials. Paralegals who work on corporate legal matters may prepare
contracts, maintain records and ensure that a corporation has complied with
various statutes and government regulations. Paralegals who work on real estate
matters may prepare mortgage agreements and other documents relating to real
estate transactions and assist at closings.
While the major employers of paralegals are private law firms, there are also
job opportunities with government agencies, including district attorneys’
offices, and a variety of other employers. In addition, the curriculum may be
highly suitable for students who contemplate pursuing other law-related
careers, such as careers in law enforcement, or who seek a broad, practical
knowledge of the law for its own sake.
”Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers,
including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and
drafting documents.”* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2015 annual
median income for paralegals was $48,810. The top 10 percent or paralegals and
legal assistants earned an average of $79,010.*
The employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 8 percent
from 2014 to 2024.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants, on
the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm (visited September
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