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What is a paralegal?
A paralegal is a legal assistant who can do almost anything an attorney can do except give legal advice, represent a client in court, set fees or accept cases. If you are fascinated by the prospect of helping to solve a crime, researching a historical precedent, or writing summaries of cases related to an criminal or civil investigation, you might enjoy being a paralegal.
What are the requirements to become a paralegal?
The paralegal training is usually a certificate program in which you are introduced to the workings of the law and to legal research methods.
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You might specialize in employment, real estate, criminal investigation, family crisis issues, or victim advocacy, just for starters. It is possible in some places to learn the paralegal role on the job, but these opportunities are disappearing as the job of the paralegal has become more complex in recent years. Also, so many universities offer qualified paralegal programs that it is to your benefit to pursue your paralegal studies with an institution that has the tools to make sure you get exactly the training you need. Certification at the present time remains voluntary, but employers look more favorably on those who have satisfactorily completed an accredited program. Your can also earn an associate's degree, and in some cases, even a bachelor's or master's degree in paralegal studies.
How much money does a paralegal make?
The salaries for a paralegal are very attractive with the average at over $42,000 for those with less than two years experience. Those with two to five years experience earned an average of $52,133 in 2007, while those with over eight years experience earned an average of $66,576. A very small percentage—about 10%—earned less that $27,000 in 2006.
What is the job outlook for a paralegal?
While the field is competitive, the employment expectations are up as many business now give jobs to paralegals that were once performed by attorneys. Those who are trained with either a degree or a certificate will have the most and highest paid opportunities. The US department of justice is actually the largest employer of paralegals, followed by the Social Security Administration, and US Department of Treasury. A few individuals work as freelance paralegals, contracting services to attorneys, or businesses in need of legal services.