Paralegal Job Outlook
Paralegals play key roles in many busy law firms and corporate legal departments. Paralegals support attorneys in a variety of ways, from researching and organizing complex information to coordinating filings and preparing exhibits for use in court proceedings. While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this career just as it impacted so many others, the paralegal job outlook remains strong, with estimated growth of 14% between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
THE PARALEGAL CAREER OUTLOOK OVER THE NEXT DECADE
At 14%, the projected growth rate for paralegals is robust; this career is expected to grow at a much faster rate than the average for all other occupations. In fact, there will be a projected 45,800 job openings every year between 2021 and 2031, representing both added jobs as well as the need to replace paralegals who retire, change careers, or otherwise exit the workforce.
There are a number of reasons for the continued growth in this field. Trained paralegals can perform many of the same tasks attorneys typically handle, at a lower cost to the end client or employing corporation. By handling administrative matters for their supervising attorneys, paralegals effectively free up attorneys’ time so they can focus on establishing the attorney-client relationship, setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and representing clients — tasks which must be performed by licensed attorneys.
TYPICAL PARALEGAL JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
The specific job responsibilities you may be asked to perform as a paralegal will depend on several factors, including the size and focus of your employing law firm or company. However, paralegals commonly perform the following tasks:
- Participate in client intake meetings and gather facts
- Conduct legal research, compiling relevant statutes and case law
- Handle discovery and review documents
- Maintain paper and electronic records
- Gather evidence and prepare trial exhibits
- Draft legal documents, petitions, and correspondence
- Obtain witness statements and affidavits
- Assist counsel during legal proceedings
- Schedule meetings for supervising attorney(s) with clients, witnesses, and opposing counsel
- File petitions, pleadings, complaints, responses, and appeals with the courts
- Maintaining the firm’s/legal department’s internal law library
PARALEGAL JOBS IN POST-PANDEMIC U.S.
As was the case with many other fields, the legal profession changed in firms large and small when pandemic-related lockdowns in 2020 closed businesses and forced companies to find alternative methods of continuing to serve clients. The industry largely pivoted, embracing remote meeting technologies and relying on electronic filings and records to a much greater degree than was the case pre-pandemic.
Demand for attorneys increased as businesses sought legal advice and assistance with a range of new challenges, including cybersecurity; federal, state, and local regulations; contractual issues; corporate governance; and more.
As the need for qualified attorneys grew, so too did the need for skilled paralegals who could comfortably work in an environment which was largely online. Thanks to paralegals’ efforts, many law firms and corporations were able to successfully navigate the uncharted waters of the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever.
PARALEGAL JOB GROWTH AND COMPENSATION
The growth in the number of paralegal jobs in recent years seems to be directly correlated to paralegals’ salaries. In May 2021, the median annual wage for paralegals across the country was $56,230, with the highest 10% of earners making more than $88,640/year. Paralegals working in federal government, finance and insurance, and state/local government roles tend to command higher salaries than those working in traditional law firms.
Ultimately, the paralegal occupational outlook is positive, with projected continued growth over the coming decade. People considering pursuing paralegal careers can do so with some confidence. Generations College offers traditional on-campus and online Paralegal Studies Associate of Science degree programs, designed to prepare aspiring paralegals for a lifetime of career success in this thriving and rewarding field. Contact Generations College to learn more, or apply online today to take the first step toward your future as a paralegal!