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Paralegal

Career Overview

An experience paralegal is an attorney's right hand. Paralegals research and prepare briefs, interview prospective clients, and prepare documents for signature and filing with the court. Paralegals draft divorce agreements, mortgages and contracts. Entry level paramedics often find themselves researching case law for specific issues. As their work experience grows, their job description expands.

Education

Almost all paralegals today hold either a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree in the field. Many law firms today prefer that their paralegals have bachelor's degrees, which equates to two more years of exposure to the profession. However some attorneys with certain kinds of practices are willing to hire paralegals with associate's degrees. Some law office managers go back to school and work their way into the paralegal ranks.

Employment

In 2006 there were 238,000 paralegals and legal assistants working in the United States. A legal assistant is a junior version of a paralegal, someone who is versed in the functions of the law office but has not had formal training.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities are expected to grow by 22% during the decade 2006 - 2016. This rate is almost twice as fast as the projected average job growth overall for the same period. Opportunities for paralegals will expand from law firms into insurance companies, real estate firms and banks.

Salary

10th Percentile $29,260

Median Salary $46,120

90th Percentile $73,450

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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