What Is The Career Path For Paralegals?

What Is The Career Path For Paralegals?

If you’re currently attending school or you just find yourself interested in the legal system, you may find yourself questioning whether or not a career path as a paralegal is for you. You may have questions about daily responsibilities, how you can advance once in the field, the projected growth, etc. All of these are valid concerns and questions. And they can make determining this huge life decision that much more complicated.

Whether you have a bachelor’s degree already, are working towards one, or don’t know if it’s the right decision for you and your journey to becoming a paralegal, we’re breaking down everything you need to know to succeed.

What Is A Paralegal?

Paralegals can be described as assistants to lawyers. In some cases, they go to law school but choose not to pursue a career as an attorney. Other people choose to get certified after their bachelor’s degree or they receive an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. No matter what they are going to school for, paralegals are typically trained to help with a variety of tasks specific to law, including clerical work, reviewing legal documents, performing research, and more.

The requirements to become a paralegal and start out on your career path will vary from state to state since it is not a licensed position, nationally or statewide. In many states, certification is necessary, though this is not required in all 50 states.

What Do Paralegals Do?


Many of the cases that attorneys deal with on a regular basis involve some investigating. In order for a lawyer to be successful with their client, they need to know the ins and outs of the case, which is what paralegals help assist with. This investigation is similar to research but requires much more hands-on work, such as interviewing those involved and fact-checking. Though this is one of the most interesting aspects of being a paralegal, it’s also tedious.


On hands investigating isn’t the only kind of research paralegals do. Because the law can be such a finicky thing, paralegals will find themselves researching laws, how they are applied, if there are any applicable loopholes, and how they pertain to the case that they are working on.

Prepare Documents

Though a paralegal has a wide variety of duties, clerical work, such as preparing documentation, is a large portion of the day-to-day workload. This paperwork can include manuscripts of interviews, pleadings, deeds, wills, and any other written evidence.

Trial preparation

One of the most exciting yet stressful times in a lawyer’s career is trial. That’s why a paralegal’s job is to help the attorney prepare in every way possible. Some of these responsibilities include creating a chronological plan for the trial, organizing the visuals and exhibits, assisting with jury selection, preparing witnesses, and managing files. The acting attorney may also have paralegals act as the note taker during the trial itself.

Where Do Paralegals Work?

When considering a paralegal career path, it helps to consider what types of working environments you night expect. Paralegals can be found in a variety of professional settings.

Large Law Firms

Like any other business, there are different kinds of law firms–typically broken up into small and large. Although the terms small and large are subjective and vary depending on your location, most large law firms have roughly 300 lawyers, according to The National Law Review. Some firms have over 1,000. Again, this is subjective based on location, though. What may be considered small in New York would be regarded as large in a smaller city in the midwest.

When working at a more prominent law firm, you will typically find higher salaries and special training that you may not receive at a smaller firm. However, you may also experience longer work hours and higher expectations which can lead to higher stress levels.

Small Law Firms

Much like larger law firms, small law firms have pros and cons. Small law firms can have anywhere from five to twenty lawyers. Because of this, paralegals are more likely to have a longer list of responsibilities. They may also struggle to find room for advancement in their careers.

However, much like with other industries, smaller businesses tend to create a sense of camaraderie amongst the employees, which many people find extremely valuable. The environment also tends to be more relaxed.

Corporate Legal Departments

Because corporations are so large, they typically have their own legal counsel–including paralegals. The day-to-day work varies because you are working on a wide variety of subjects, including employees and government regulations. The benefit of working for a corporate legal department is the regular schedule. If your free time is important, this can be extremely important. But with the benefits come the downsides, such as there being a lack of variety in the workload.

Government Agencies – Local, State, Federal

Just like with corporations, government agencies also have their own legal team. This applies to local, state, and federal levels. Because you are working for the government as a paralegal, you may find yourself earning a higher salary and more secure, which can be a big advantage for many.


Last but not least is nonprofits. This is an ideal place for those who feel strongly about a cause–whether it’s human rights, immigration, etc. Like with smaller law firms, the working environment tends to be slower-paced.

How Can You Advance Your Paralegal Career Path?

Become A Specialist In A Particular Field Of Law

  • Bankruptcy – Bankruptcy law involves those who cannot afford to pay off their debts. Bankruptcy lawyers typically gather everything needed to create a plan that helps their client pay off their balance
  • Family Law – Family law covers a wide range of topics, with everything from adoption to prenups to child welfare
  • Divorce – Although divorce technically falls under the umbrella that is family law, many lawyers choose to specialize solely on the topic with couples
  • Criminal Law – Criminal law is the law that you may be most familiar with. While it does cover murder and other heinous crimes, it also involves other crimes such as arson, theft, drunk driving, and more
  • Real Estate Law – Real estate law covers all things property related. This means homes, land, construction, etc.
  • Personal Injury Law – Personal injury lawyers take on clients who have experienced some kind of personal injury, be it physical, mental, or emotional
  • Environmental Law – If you care about the environment, this may be a specialization for you. It helps protect the Earth and its natural resources by controlling things such as air quality, water quality, and waste management

These are just some of the areas in which you can become a specialist as a lawyer. In fact, the list is endless, which can make choosing a field to specialize in difficult, to say the least. The best way to narrow down your choices and pick one that suits you best is to consider your interests and ideal work setting and take growth projections into consideration (which we will discuss later).

Advance Your Career Path Into Management

If specializing in a particular field doesn’t sound like the right decision for you, you can also advance into management. The best way to do so is to continue your education and gain as much experience in the field as possible. As mentioned earlier, working at a larger law firm may provide you more room to grow if this is something you’re interested in.

What Is The Job Outlook for Paralegals?

If you’re considering being a paralegal or you’re already acting as one, you’ll be happy to know that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for paralegals and legal assistants is supposed to grow 14% in the next decade (from 2021 to 2031). This is a much higher percentage than seen for many other fields. This is to say that there will be an average of 45,800 annual job openings within the field.

This can be caused for various reasons, though one of the biggest reasons may be that law firms are trying to cut costs. Rather than hiring additional lawyers, they can hire paralegals who will do a lot of the same work for a smaller salary. Though this sounds less than promising, the average salary for a paralegal in the U.S is still $56,230.

Find Paralegal Jobs Today With LeadingEdge Personnel

Whether you’re just starting out as a paralegal or you’re looking to move to a different firm, LeadingEdge Personnel is an employment agency for paralegals that is here to make moving up your career path as easy as possible. From corporate offices to smaller boutique firms, our job board has a wide variety of options to help you land your dream role without the headache. To start your search, browse our current job openings and find the perfect paralegal job for you today!







No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.