Career Outlook for Paralegals

The career outlook for paralegals looks more promising with each passing year. In 1995, researchers discovered that the paralegal field was on the fast track to adding more jobs and by 2000 it was still regarded as a strong and thriving industry. Today, paralegal schools across the country are scrambling to provide the best education to the plethora of potential paralegals that will be needed in the future. One of the great things about the legal profession is that unlike other areas and industries that are being negatively impacted due to a flailing economy, the paralegal and legal assistant profession is continuing to grow.

Since the year 2000, the market for paralegals has increased according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Office of Employment Protection. When compared to other occupations, the paralegal profession has an above average growth rate. While other industries are tanking, the demand for legal services continues to grow, and fortunately, it isn’t just law firms who are hiring paralegals. There are various institutions and corporations that find value in having a knowledgeable paralegal on their staff. For this reason, paralegals aren’t just finding a promising outlook when looking for jobs with law firms, they are equally optimistic about securing an administrative position with other firms as well.

The U.S. Department of Labor has consistently found that the paralegal profession is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States. By the year 2000 there were over 100,000 paralegals in the United States and as demand for paralegals has grown that number has more than doubled. The paralegal profession will grow much faster than most occupations and is expected to keep momentum up to the year 2014. There is plenty of potential for paralegals who desire permanent positions as well as opportunities for paralegals interested in contract positions.

Individuals who are interested in entering the legal profession are anxious to know how recession affects the legal industry. During recessions, paralegals are often hired to perform tasks that were once accomplished by a lawyer. A paralegal essentially takes on the tasks and responsibilities that a lawyer would typically perform; however, they are able to do everything short of practicing law. Employers are more apt to hire paralegals at a reduced cost and this gives paralegals an edge in a declining market. When the paralegal profession is compared to other jobs, the leap in career growth is quite dramatic and significant. During both recessions and economic growth there is often plenty of legal work available.

The top two specialty law divisions that are appearing to be recession proof are:

Intellectual Property Law: Paralegals who have experience with trademark, patent, or copyright law are still in strong demand. There is a shortage of support staff for this particular field of law and opportunities are continuing to grow.

Litigation Paralegals: The prevalence of law suits never seems to decline. Paralegals who are needed to handle case loads will continue to rise, causing an increase in the need for litigation paralegals.

Another factor that plays a positive role in a great career outlook for paralegals is population explosions.  Population increases also help the career outlook for many paralegals. As the population increases the need for legal services also increase. It should also be noted that paralegals who work in densely-populated cities typically receive higher salaries.

One potential position that paralegals can take besides working under the supervision of the attorney is to contract themselves out for hire. Many paralegals do freelance work in order to give themselves flexibility and their own preferred salary. The paralegal’s ability to contract themselves out provides an added layer of career stability and makes the paralegal field even more recession-proof. Paralegals that are laid-off always have the option of securing work independently if the need arises.

The career outlook for individuals interested in entering the legal field is exceptionally better than many other career fields today. Fortunately, the need for paralegals will keep a positive and optimistic career outlook going in full momentum for many years to come.

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