Paralegals assist attorneys with delegated work, and are a vital part of every legal team.
If you have a desire to pursue a career in legal services, becoming a paralegal is a quicker path than going to law school and passing the bar exam. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that paralegal jobs will grow by 12 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than most jobs. The demand for paralegals is high, especially in urban centers and metropolitan areas.
In just two years or less with a prior qualifying degree, you can earn your associate degree in paralegal studies and prepare to begin a career that is growing. In addition to the need for paralegals in law firms, California is expecting jobs to grow in the private sector in major cities as corporations expand and diversify their legal departments.
Even with the demand for paralegals, there are reasons you may want to specialize in your paralegal career. In this article, we’ll examine some specialized paralegal career paths, and why you might choose a specific niche.
Campus, formerly known as MTI College, offers a fully Online Paralegal Studies program. More details can be found here.
What Role Paralegals Play in the Legal System
Here is a quick refresher on what paralegals are and what they do:
Paralegals are hired by law firms, legal offices, or government agencies to perform specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
The main role a paralegal performs is providing support for lawyers. Paralegals usually work for private law firms, local, state, and federal government agencies, corporate in-house legal departments, insurance firms, or litigation support service providers that assist private firms.
Paralegals are not allowed to practice law or give legal advice to clients or represent clients in court. Their role is support for an attorney, and they are an important part of any legal team.
Why Specialize as a Paralegal?
Paralegal certification shows that you are qualified to be a generalist paralegal. In your paralegal career, you may want to deep dive into specific fields. This may be because you enjoy those specific fields, and feel passionate about them, or enjoy that type of law. Specializing in a field of paralegal work also allows you to learn more about those fields than a generalist paralegal might not learn. This may be advantageous when seeking a position or negotiating salary in that paralegal field. Experience and education are the two main ways to specialize in a particular paralegal discipline.
11 Types of Paralegal Specialties to Consider
Here are eleven of the most common specialized paralegal fields in which you may choose to build a career.
1. Corporate Paralegal
A corporate paralegal usually works in-house for a single organization, rather than for a roster of clients. Their work is rarely in public, but rather behind the scenes. Paralegals working in corporate environments advice businesses on issues like compliance, regulations, and responsibilities. Corporate paralegals may assist legal counsel on preparing contracts, as well as the formation, organization, or dissolution of corporations and entities. Paralegals in corporations also assist with the legal paperwork for mergers, acquisitions, takeovers, or lawsuits against a corporation.
2. Criminal Defense Paralegal
Criminal defense is type of legal work the public is most familiar with, via crime dramas on TV and cases in the news. A paralegal in this field works with a criminal defense attorney who is either private counsel or appointed by a government agency at the local, state, or federal level. Criminal defense legal teams work on the opposite side from criminal prosecution teams and focus on parts of the law that deal with individual rights, liberties, and responsibilities.
Paralegals working in criminal defense may end up working in a specific area of defense, such as violent crime, white-collar crimes, or narcotics charges. This specialization helps paralegals assists attorneys better through their focus and experience with the same types of cases.
A criminal defense paralegal is involved with every phase of the trial. During pretrial, they may be tasked with client interviews, gathering police reports and arrest records, obtaining medical records, gathering evidence and information, and preparing information for attorneys.
The attorney may instruct the criminal defense paralegal to draft motions and responses to discovery requests, or file documents with the court (under their supervision).
During the trial, the paralegal may update the trial notebook, including notations of motions, pleas, exhibits, lab results, and research. Post-trial, the paralegal may help the attorney prepare and file appeals, and file post-trial documents.
3. Estate Planning Paralegal
An estate planning paralegal helps clients plan for allocation of their client’s assets. These paralegals assist in writing wills, completing tax calculations on plans, drafting real estate planning documents, working with probate pleadings and deeds.
Estate planning paralegals can also help with setting up trust allocation schedules and distribution plans, helping clients manage inheritance taxes, recording deeds, and drafting beneficiary notifications.
To work as an estate planning and probate paralegal, you must first complete an ABA-approved paralegal program, and earn a certification, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree (depending on what state you are in). It is also recommended you intern as a paralegal for six months.
4. Banking and Finance Law Paralegal
Working in finance law as a paralegal requires that you gain knowledge of accounting, financial regulations, and banking laws and regulations. One application for this type of paralegal is when municipalities or counties issue bonds for infrastructure projects, so they do not need to take out loans. Your job as a paralegal would be to make sure the bond paperwork follows federal, state, and local regulations. You might also be required to draft contracts, deeds, financial statements, and agreements related to the issuing of the bonds.
Financial paralegals may also work in other areas like corporate law or bankruptcy law.
5. Bankruptcy Paralegal
Bankruptcy paralegals work for lawyers that represent creditors or debtors. These paralegals must be very familiar with the US Bankruptcy Code and working in the Federal Court system as bankruptcy actions can only be filed in Federal Courts. A bankruptcy paralegal will help prepare the paperwork for the debtors or creditors.
6. Family Law Paralegal
If you have exceptional interpersonal skills, family law might be a good fit for your paralegal talents. Family law paralegals assist attorneys with legal issues such as divorce, child custody, child support, property settlements, and occasionally restraining orders. Some of the tasks a family law paralegal may be responsible for include gathering evidence, reviewing assets, preparing documents for filing, interviewing clients, analyzing financial information, sending files to opposing counsel, and taking notes during hearings.
Both sides of family law proceedings are usually emotionally charged, so empathy, people skills, emotional stability, and communication skills are valuable skills for family law paralegals to possess.
7. Intellectual Property Paralegal
Paralegals working in intellectual property law focus on the protection of trademarks, patents, and other creative works and designs created by their clients. These paralegals can work in large offices or in-house for a corporation. Some work directly with firms to help secure patents and trademarks. IP paralegals may also spend time filing applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), responding to PTO actions, or helping prepare litigation in the case of copyright or trademark infringement.
8. Litigation Paralegal
Litigation is a wide area of law that deals with any legal action where one or more parties allege that they have been injured by the intentional or negligent actions of another party or parties. . In litigation, the parties are asking the Court to determine whether the injured party is entitled to some form of recourse. Litigation covers personal injury, corporate disputes, and contract disputes, to name a few.
Paralegals who work for litigation attorneys may be tasked with preparing paperwork and documents for a case, researching the details of a case, summarize depositions, or organizing evidence.
If you have exceptional organizational and multitasking skills, litigation may be a field of law in which you may want to specialize.
9. Real Estate Paralegal
A real estate paralegal usually has a real estate license, allowing them to leverage their knowledge of the real estate industry in their paralegal work. Some of the work that real estate paralegals do may include preparing real estate documents, writing rental or lease agreements, preparing contracts, auditing financial transactions, or composing letters of correspondence between the selling and buying parties.
10. Immigration Paralegal
Paralegals working in immigration law usually work in a law office or in-house at a corporation with an immigration lawyer. These paralegals may also work for non-profits helping refugees or immigrants to go through the proper channels to legally live and work in the United States. Possessing the ability to fluently speak more than one language is a plus for the immigration paralegal.
Some of the work an immigration paralegal may do includes organizing and filing visa applications, searching public access files, researching immigration/asylum law and the naturalization process, or assisting lawyers working in deportation defense. Immigration law is fast paced but rewarding work for those with a passion for this cause.
11. Personal Injury Paralegal
Personal injury paralegals assist attorneys with tort law, which deals with damages against a person or their property. Tort law is a part of civil litigation, where an aggrieved party brings a case against the damaging party for expenses such as medical bills or other damages. Personal injury cases for monetary amounts can often fall outside the jurisdiction of criminal courts, though the parties may be involved in separate criminal case proceedings. Examples of personal injury cases can include medical malpractice, wrongful death, workplace injuries, and corporate liability.
Tasks that a personal injury paralegal may be responsible for include collecting medical reports, researching insurance information, client interviews, and looking up state legislation.
Take the First Step to Becoming a Paralegal
The A.A. Online Paralegal Studies program at Campus, formerly known as MTI College, is open for enrollment. This fully online program will let you fast track your education to becoming a paralegal. For more details, or to talk directly to our friendly Admissions department, call (916) 339-1500 or fill our contact form today. A representative from Campus will be in contact with you shortly afterwards.
If you’re ready to start your career as a paralegal, take the first step by requesting more information or contacting an admissions representative.
Contact AdmissionsRequest More Info
Please Note: The data provided above are from a source unaffiliated with Campus, are for informational purposes only and represent the employment field as a whole. They are not solely specific to Campus graduates and, by providing the above information, Campus makes no representation, direct or implied, or opinion regarding employability.
Where is there a high demand for paralegals? ›
The demand for paralegals is high, especially in urban centers and metropolitan areas.What is the demand for paralegals? ›
Projections Central reports 12% national employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2018 to 2028, which is slightly above the average growth projected for all occupations combined.2 California paralegal jobs are expected to grow at a slightly faster rate, at almost 14% during the same time ...What state has the highest demand for paralegals? ›
|Rank||StateUS Average||10-Year Growth (2018-2028)312%|
Master's degrees are generally the highest degree in the paralegal field. Individuals who complete master degrees often pursue careers as paralegal managers or teachers. The master's degree programs are often offered as online programs.Where is the best place to work as a paralegal? ›
Where Can a Paralegal Work?
- Law Firms. Let's start with the obvious one: Most Paralegals work in private law firms. ...
- Courts. ...
- Government. ...
- Corporations. ...
- Real Estate. ...
Being a paralegal is stressful, and paralegal burnout is real. Paralegals work notoriously long hours, and their tasks include everything from office management to doing case research and preparing and editing legal contracts and documents. Paralegal's tasks have a direct impact on the outcomes of matters and cases.Are paralegals in demand in USA? ›
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals earned a median annual wage of about $53,000 in 2020, and demand for this role is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade.Can paralegals make six figures? ›
Can paralegals make six figures? Sure. If you're certified by either NALA, NFPA, or another certifying organization, have years of experience and have become a subject matter expert in your field. Many larger law firms have tiers for paralegals and they advance through the ranks as do attorneys.Is paralegal field growing? ›
Paralegals work in a variety of settings, but they're most commonly employed by law firms, government agencies and legal departments at corporations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 14.1% employment growth for paralegals between 2021 and 2031. In that period, an estimated 49,900 jobs should open up.Are paralegals worth it? ›
Paralegal training is faster, much cheaper, and opens up many professional doors (more on that later). Becoming a paralegal is a noble, exciting goal. You can do a lot of good in this role. If you're motivated to help others and ready to challenge yourself, this can be a deeply rewarding career.
What city pays paralegals the most? ›
The metropolitan areas that pay the highest salary in the paralegal profession are San Jose, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, and Los Angeles.What is the largest employer of paralegals? ›
Private law firms are the largest employers of paralegals. Businesses, corporations, and the government are also large employers of paralegals. Paralegals work in a variety of legal practice areas, ranging from litigation and trial practice to tax, real estate transactions, and estate planning.What percent of paralegals are female? ›
There are over 294,138 paralegals currently employed in the United States. 77.6% of all paralegals are women, while 22.4% are men. The average age of an employed paralegal is 45 years old.What is a competitive paralegal salary? ›
The average salary for Paralegal is £29,073 per year in the London. The average additional cash compensation for a Paralegal in the London is £1,501, with a range from £442 - £5,104. Salaries estimates are based on 2020 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Paralegal employees in the London.How do I become a successful paralegal? ›
- Ability to multitask. ...
- Strong attention to detail. ...
- Willingness to learn. ...
- Expertise in organization. ...
- Psychic abilities.
Typically, legal assistants do more administrative work than paralegals, such as scheduling meetings or organizing client files, however this can vary based on their employer and job responsibilities.What is the next step after a paralegal? ›
As a paralegal, you may be wondering about your career options. The next logical step is to become a practicing lawyer, utilizing the legal knowledge you've gained to further your law career.Do paralegals get promoted? ›
Career advancement and development look different for each Paralegal. For you, advancement might occur within your current law office. For others, advancement may be transitioning into a postsecondary educator position, attending law school to become an attorney, or joining a governmental agency.How hard is it to get a paralegal role? ›
Finding and securing a paralegal role can be hard, but there are still ways you can make your application stand out. Applying to a wide variety of roles, networking, and gaining legal experience will definitely improve your chances.What area of law do most paralegals work in? ›
- Corporate paralegal. ...
- Estate planning and probate paralegal. ...
- Family law paralegal. ...
- Government paralegal. ...
- Immigration paralegal. ...
- Intellectual property paralegal. ...
- Litigation paralegal. ...
- Real estate paralegal.
What is the nickname for a paralegal? ›
Paralegals are often referred to as a “wizard” or “magician.” Honestly, many paralegals live up to those nicknames, because they work tirelessly to make a difference in the legal field.What are four things that a paralegal Cannot do? ›
Generally, paralegals may not represent clients in court, take depositions, or sign pleadings. Some federal and state administrative agencies, however, do permit nonlawyer practice.Is it easy to get hired as a paralegal? ›
As a new paralegal getting that first job is tough because employers are looking for experience. Any internships a paralegal student can do would be beneficial in the long run and worth the legal experience gained in the field. This experience can be listed on a resume.Are paralegals in demand in Florida? ›
At any rate, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% growth in this profession by the year 2024. The employment rate for paralegals in the state of Florida is the second-highest in the country next to California according to the Bureau.What is a paralegal salary in Texas? ›
How much does a Paralegal I make in Texas? The average Paralegal I salary in Texas is $60,064 as of December 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $53,119 and $67,817.Why should I study paralegal? ›
Paralegals navigate the legal waters for others, and they do it at a price that is affordable. With your skillset and passion for the law you can guide your clients through the litigation process, provide compassionate counsel and help them receive the justice they deserve. Your work is a voice for those in need.Do paralegals write a lot? ›
The paralegal profession relies heavily on communication. Writing competency for those who enter the profession is essential. Paralegals gather information and prepare a wide range of documents required to support, verify and complete a variety of legal transactions.Do paralegals make mistakes? ›
Even experienced paralegals make mistakes, and god knows you'll see lawyers themselves make plenty of them. But there are certain mistakes brand-new paralegals seem to be famous for making.Do paralegals have to write a lot? ›
Honestly, this is a profession that relies so heavily on communication, both verbal and written, so that writing is essential; it's a basic for both lawyers as well as for paralegals and legal secretaries.What is the beginning salary for most paralegals? ›
|Zinda Law Group Entry Level Paralegal salaries - 6 salaries reported||$20/hr|
|Michael & Associates (CA) Entry Level Paralegal salaries - 2 salaries reported||$20/hr|
|McGuireWoods Entry Level Paralegal salaries - 2 salaries reported||$49,534/yr|
What is difference between paralegal and legal assistant? ›
A legal assistant, or litigation assistant, may perform administrative duties as well as legal tasks. A paralegal focuses more on legal duties and research to assist lawyers. Both positions require an understanding of legal terminology and procedures.Are paralegals respected? ›
For a variety of reasons, professional paralegals can be extremely valuable to law firms, and more shops should respect and invest in professional paralegals. As many attorneys know from first-hand experience, professional paralegals often learn valuable information about the practice of law.Is paralegal diploma hard? ›
Training to Become a Paralegal Is Hard Work, but Well Worth It! Going back to school can seem daunting at first, especially if it has been a few years since the last time you were a student. Fortunately, while it takes hard work and dedication to become a paralegal, it's a career that also comes with many rewards.Do paralegals go to court? ›
Paralegal duties would typically involve preparing legal documents, research, admin, providing quotes to clients, interviewing clients and witnesses, giving clients legal information, going to court and handling a caseload of clients.What do most paralegals major in? ›
Certificate programs for paralegals are listed by schools under the major of “paralegal studies” or “legal studies.” These programs have core academic classes, such as English composition, mathematics, science and social sciences, but the program is heavily weighted toward legal fundamentals, such as legal research and ...What is the highest paying occupation? ›
|OCCUPATION||2021 MEDIAN PAY|
|General internal medicine physicians||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year|
|Family medicine physicians||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year|
|Emergency medicine physicians||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year|
FBI paralegal specialists assist attorneys in conducting research, preparing legal pleadings, and reviewing and analyzing case material for various assignments.Do paralegals earn much? ›
As of 2021, the average starting salary for a paralegal is $41,500 to $67,500.Is a paralegal higher than a secretary? ›
They both provide assistance to the lawyer that they work for. Generally speaking however, a paralegal usually holds a higher position than that of a legal secretary. Paralegals typically have a higher level of educational attainment.What type of paralegal is most in demand? ›
- Contract law.
- Corporate law.
- Healthcare law.
- Intellectual Property (IP) law.
- Real estate law.
What should a female wear to a paralegal interview? ›
The bottom line is to make sure you wear clean, comfortable, business clothing that shows you are a serious Paralegal who genuinely cares about the job you're interviewing for.Can a guy be a paralegal? ›
Being a paralegal in the pandemic era has made us all adapt on a day to day basis, yet one thing remains very consistent. I came across a recent article which stated that just under 23% of the paralegal profession are male.What type of person makes a good paralegal? ›
An indispensable paralegal has an ability to multitask, a strong attention to detail, a willingness to learn, an expertise in organization, and psychic abilities.Is paralegal a good career for introverts? ›
Paralegals help lawyers prepare for cases. They do a lot of research and gather information from various sources. Despite the fact that they do have to interact with lawyers, these jobs are well-suited for introverts because they require a lot of independent work.Is a paralegal job stressful? ›
Being a paralegal is stressful, and paralegal burnout is real. Paralegals work notoriously long hours, and their tasks include everything from office management to doing case research and preparing and editing legal contracts and documents. Paralegal's tasks have a direct impact on the outcomes of matters and cases.How fast should a paralegal type? ›
Good typing speeds are relative to job descriptions. For example, data entry positions usually require 60-80 words per minute. Medical transcriptionists, paralegals and executive secretaries should be able to type 70-100 wpm.How do you move up as a paralegal? ›
- Online Networking. ...
- Join local and national paralegal organizations. ...
- Volunteer. ...
- Read blogs, articles, and case summaries. ...
- CLE materials. ...
- Move to another city. ...
- Change industries.
The legal professionals we talked to believe certification is worthwhile for a variety of reasons. “Paralegal Certificates are invaluable,” says Matthew Dolman, managing partner at Sibley Dolman Gipe. “They pave a path toward a sustainable and lucrative career in the law.”What can I do after paralegal? ›
- Legal Staffing Recruiter.
- Professional Development and Training Manager.
- Pro Bono Program Coordinator.
- Project Manager for legal support vendor.
- Legislative Affairs Director for a county government agency.
- Business Development/Sales for legal support vendor.