Paralegal Studies


THE PARALEGAL PROFESSION


As you have likely read or heard, the paralegal profession has for years been one of the fastest growing professions in the nation. Accourding to multiple sources and studies, this trend continues.

Prior to discussing career trends, however, there may be some who are wondering this: What is a paralegal?

 

    WHAT IS A PARALEGAL?

     

    According to Essential Skills for Paralegals, the following definition applies to this profession:

     

    paralegal n.
    a person who assists an attorney in advocating on behalf of a client or who works for a corporate or government entity dealing with legal matters, and who, in the course of this advocacy, may create legal documents, investigate relevant facts, conduct legal research, interview clients and witnesses, and perform any other tasks that an attorney may perform, except give legal advice or act as a legal representative on behalf of another in a court of law

     

    Currently, paralegals work in dozens of different situations, including:

     

    • traditional law offices
    • courts
    • governors’ offices
    • mayors’ offices
    • the White House
    • corporate law offices
    • real estate offices
    • the FBI
    • prosecutors’ offices
    • public defenders’ offices
    • investigative positions
    • government agencies
    • child welfare groups
    • political action committees
    • social service agencies
    • hospital administrative offices
    • freelance work for attorneys
    • owners of small businesses, representing their own interests

     

    CAREER TRENDS AND PROFESSION OUTLOOK

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal profession is projected to grow 28 percent through 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.

     

    The paralegal profession continues to be among the fastest growing of any professions in the nation. Following is an excerpt from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the outlook for employment in the paralegal profession:

     

    Employment change.
    Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employers are trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. Paralegals are performing a wider variety of duties, making them more useful to businesses.

    Demand for paralegals also is expected to grow as an expanding population increasingly requires legal services, especially in areas such as intellectual property, healthcare, international law, elder issues, criminal law, and environmental law. The growth of prepaid legal plans also should contribute to the demand for legal services.

     

    Private law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals, but a growing array of other organizations, such as corporate legal departments, insurance companies, real-estate and title insurance firms, and banks also hire paralegals. Corporations in particular are expected to increase their in-house legal departments to cut costs. The wide range of tasks paralegals can perform has helped to increase their employment in small and medium-size establishments of all types.

     

    Job prospects.
    In addition to new jobs created by employment growth, more job openings will arise as people leave the occupation. There will be demand for paralegals who specialize in areas such as real estate, bankruptcy, medical malpractice, and product liability. Community legal service programs, which provide assistance to the poor, elderly, minorities, and middle-income families, will employ additional paralegals to minimize expenses and serve the most people. Job opportunities also are expected in Federal, State, and local government agencies, consumer organizations, and the courts. However, this occupation attracts many applicants, creating competition for jobs. Experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best job prospects.

     

    Source: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos114.htm#outlook