The paralegal profession continues to be among the fastest growing of any profession in the nation. Employers are reducing costs and increasing the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. Paralegals are also performing a wider variety of duties, making them more useful to businesses.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, in the coming years, you may have more career opportunity than attorneys, stenographers -- even federal judges. The latest job rating survey at the CareerCast job portal ranked 200 different jobs based on five vital work criteria: stress, work environment, physical demands, income and outlook. While "lawyer" came in 82nd on the list of 200 best jobs and "federal judges" 69th, "paralegal assistants" made the top 20-ranking 17th overall. CNNMoney.com ranked the paralegal profession 14th in the Top 20 jobs for "people who want more pay, more upside and more control over where they're going."
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.
Current salary projections and reports for paralegals are also strong. The Labor Bureau's latest posted wage estimates (May 2007) show paralegals earn a mean hourly wage of $22.88-and a mean annual wage of $47,600. Many paralegals also receive bonuses and benefits, including sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance and participation in retirement plans.