Pros and Cons of Being a Paralegal (2023)

The prefix “para” comes from the Greek language, meaning “beside;” thus, paralegals work in law offices and the legal department of businesses, assisting and working alongside lawyers to complete various legal tasks. Much of this involves preparing contracts and other legal documents, attending to correspondence for clients and other firms or offices, and even working with clients. Paralegals are to a lawyer what a nurse is to a doctor -highly skilled in the same field, capable of accomplishing many of the same tasks, and there to help keep the boss from being overwhelmed by work. Some people find this a very satisfying field and position, but here as with every profession, there are two sides to the coin.

Training and Earnings for Paralegals

Pro: Training

If the legal business calls to you, but years of law school and the bar exam don’t, then being a paralegal may be a great alternative. A bachelor’s degree in almost any field of study combined with paralegal certification or an associate’s degree in a legal field are generally sufficient to become a paralegal. Having experience in the legal field can qualify you for certification as well -- a much less daunting method to a legal career, with many of the same benefits.

(Video) Do You Want To Be A Paralegal? Questions to ask yourself & tips to jumpstart your Paralegal career.

Con: Salary

Pay, however is not one of those. This is not to say that paralegals aren’t paid well; in fact, those with experience made over $65,000 in 2014, which is nothing to sneeze at. But the median lawyer’s salary is nearly double that.

Pro: Less Debt

(Video) How did I become A Paralegal? + Pros\Cons (HD) 1080p

The extra years of schooling may be worth it -- but becoming a paralegal entails much less debt, as it requires less years of expensive school and no loans for an office.

Con: Job Stability

On the other hand, a paralegal’s employment is based on a lawyer’s need, not the other way around. So while the lawyer can guarantee himself a job, he can’t always guarantee one for his paralegals.


Pro: More Job Opportunities

Luckily, this can be tempered by the fact that people may be more inclined to hire a paralegal than a lawyer, since their services are much less costly and often just as effective.

Opportunity and Workload for Paralegals

Pro: Freedom

(Video) Is It Worth It To Become A Paralegal

Other things to consider in the paralegal career are the freedoms it offers -- and withholds. There are many fields within the legal discipline, from real estate to criminal law, bankruptcy to family law. There’s a lot to learn in each field, which again may be both blessing and curse.

Con: Juggling

While it opens up the option to really enjoy what you’re doing (many paralegals do pro bono work, which is good for the community as well as the soul), depending on what you’re doing, there can be a lot of hats to wear. There will be a lot of files to keep up with and clients to keep track of, regardless, but if you went into law to help families sort out their differences and find yourself writing contracts to sell houses because that’s where you could find work, you aren’t going to feel as satisfied in your profession.


Con: Time

Additionally and unfortunately, paralegals have deadlines to meet just like lawyers, which means long hours and not always a lot of appreciation or recognition. Furthermore, there can be a lot of detective work involved, which means lots of traveling and research. For some people, that’s living the dream. It may not float everyone’s metaphorical boat, though, especially if you have a family and happen to like being at home at the same time every day and sleeping in your own bed every night.


What are the advantages of being a paralegal? ›

While every career has its ups and downs, becoming a paralegal has certain advantages that make it a very attractive option.
  • Longevity. ...
  • Compensation. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Helping Clients. ...
  • Opportunity for Growth. ...
  • Jobs in Other Industries. ...
  • Ability to be Self-employed. ...
  • You Can Specialize.

What are three important qualities that paralegals need? ›

An indispensable paralegal has an ability to multitask, a strong attention to detail, a willingness to learn, an expertise in organization, and psychic abilities.
  • Ability to multitask. ...
  • Strong attention to detail. ...
  • Willingness to learn. ...
  • Expertise in organization. ...
  • Psychic abilities.
Jan 21, 2021

How stressful is being a paralegal? ›

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.

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.

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.

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 does a day in the life of a paralegal look like? ›

On any given day, the “routine” may consist of interviewing witnesses, reviewing thousands of documents or assisting an attorney in the courtroom. This means that the paralegal must be prepared for unpredictable events and be capable of considerable time management and prioritization skills.

What is the best personality for a paralegal? ›

Personality Traits Of Successful Paralegals. Paralegals are a hardworking and dedicated bunch—they are organized, independent, fairly introverted, and creative in a way that most people never expect. They research, synthesize, document, and interpret facts to form coherent stories for their clients to use in court.

What is the most important role of a paralegal? ›

One of the most important roles of a paralegal is to assist their attorney in preparing for trials, hearings, and closings. A large part of this consists of conducting legal research and gathering relevant information to the case.

What are nicknames for paralegals? ›

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 type of paralegal makes the most money? ›

Types of Paralegals Ranked by Highest Pay
  • International Law Paralegal. ...
  • Personal Injury Lawyer Paralegal. ...
  • Family Law Paralegal. ...
  • Freelance Paralegal. ...
  • Litigation Paralegal. ...
  • Public Defender Paralegal. ...
  • Estate Planning and Probate Paralegal. ...
  • Real Estate Paralegal.

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.

Do paralegals have to read a lot? ›

Paralegals spend a significant amount of time learning about the law and conducting research by reading through old case files. The point is to try to find precedents for lawyers to use in their own court cases. Paralegal jobs require reading late into the night and under pressure if deadlines are fast approaching.

How do paralegals deal with difficult clients? ›

Tips for dealing with angry clients
  1. Listen. Books. ...
  2. Listen some more. Often people want to feel they have been heard. ...
  3. Reflect. Reflecting does not have to take hours - just a pause to reflect on what you have heard before responding can help. ...
  4. Be solutions focused. ...
  5. Be aware of your personal and professional boundaries.

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.

Why is being a paralegal so hard? ›

Stressful and Challenging Work Environment

You may answer to several attorneys at once, each with different needs. Clients, too, can be demanding and difficult. The ability to switch gears quickly and to multitask under pressure is critical to your success as a paralegal.

What are 3 duties that paralegals usually perform? ›

Typical duties of a paralegal include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Conduct client interviews and maintain general contact with the client.
  • Locate and interview witnesses.
  • Conduct investigations and statistical and documentary research.
  • Conduct legal research.
Jun 8, 2021

What do attorneys think of paralegals? ›

Attorneys definitely see paralegals as a means to keeping costs under control; saving time by delegating certain work to a competent lower level and the ability to create a profit center.

Is paralegal a good start? ›

Many lawyers and paralegals begin their journey to a career in law by taking up paralegal and other related short courses. These experiences are great stepping-stones to law school and a career as an attorney.

What is the beginning salary for most paralegals? ›

Entry Level Paralegal Salaries
Job TitleSalary
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
17 more rows

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 are the 5 typical duties of a paralegals? ›

Paralegal Job Duties
  • Research.
  • Case Preparation.
  • Document Management.
  • Courtroom and Legal Proceedings Assistance.
  • Communication and Coordination.

What should a paralegal wear on the first day of work? ›

Below are some guidelines you can use to pick out your paralegal attire.
Business formal
  • A well-fitting suit in a neutral color, such as black or gray.
  • A pantsuit or skirt suit.
  • Dark tights or socks.
  • A collared, button-up shirt.
  • A conservative tie, both in color and pattern.
  • Closed-toe shoes.
Apr 13, 2021

How do you pass a paralegal interview? ›

Six Tips to Ace Your Paralegal Interview
  1. Show Positivity. First and foremost, hiring managers look at who will be a good fit for their team, and positive team players are often sought after.
  2. Dress in a way that commands respect. ...
  3. Use strong body positioning. ...
  4. Make eye contact. ...
  5. Speak slowly. ...
  6. Turn off your cell phone.
Jul 26, 2021

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 can I improve my paralegal skills? ›

How to improve paralegal skills
  1. Work as a legal secretary. Many professionals enter the field by working as a legal secretary or legal assistant then work their way up to being a paralegal. ...
  2. Research legal topics. ...
  3. Attend a paralegal training program. ...
  4. Learn how to use popular software programs.
Apr 29, 2022

Is studying paralegal worth it? ›

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.”

How do you know if paralegal is right for you? ›

Highly organized (this is on 99% of the lists you'll find) Good communication skills (another popular “trait or characteristic” associated with paralegals) Excellent research and writing skills. Ability to multitask.

Why do people become paralegals instead of lawyers? ›

The time to become a paralegal is significantly shorter than the minimum seven-year educational process to becoming a lawyer. It is also a lot less expensive to undertake a paralegal degree compared to a law degree, meaning choosing to become a paralegal is both faster and cheaper than going into law school.

What state pays paralegals most? ›

New York and Texas also pay paralegals well: Average Salary for Paralegals in New York is $58,070.
Best Paying States for Paralegals.
StateParalegal Salary -2019 Annual Mean Wage
3 more rows

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 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.


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