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Career Outlook and Projected Growth

 

The following information was developed by The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please visit HERE for information regarding sources and studies. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics: Paralegals & Legal Assistants Defined

Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.

Duties

 Paralegals and legal assistants typically do the following:

  • Investigate and gather the facts of a case
  • Conduct research on relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles
  • Organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing systems
  • Gather and arrange evidence and other legal documents for attorney review and case preparation
  • Write or summarize reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
  • Draft correspondence and legal documents, such as contracts and mortgages
  • Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
  • Help lawyers during trials by handling exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing trial transcripts
  • File exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
  • Call clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors to schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions

 


Career Outlook & Projected Growth for the Legal Support Industry

Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As law firms try to increase the efficiency of legal services and reduce their costs, they are expected to hire more paralegals and legal assistants. In these cases, paralegals and legal assistants can take on a “hybrid” role within the firm, performing not only traditional paralegal duties but also some of the tasks previously assigned to legal secretaries or other legal support workers.

Law firms also are attempting to reduce billing costs as clients push for less expensive legal services. Due to their lower billing rates to clients, paralegals can be a less costly alternative to lawyers, performing a wide variety of tasks once done by entry-level lawyers. This should cause an increase in demand for paralegals and legal assistants.

Although law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals, many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments to cut costs. For many companies, the high cost of outside counsel makes it more economical to have an in-house legal department. This will lead to an increase in the demand for legal workers in a variety of settings, such as finance and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers.


Job Prospects

Due to the rise of electronic discovery, formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for paralegals and legal assistants, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Paralegals and legal assistants

23-2011 285,600 327,400 15 41,800 employment projections excel documentxlsx

Statics on Income

The median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants was $50,410 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,130, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,180.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for paralegals and legal assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government $65,970
Finance and insurance 60,730
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 49,600
Legal services 48,380
State government, excluding education and hospitals 46,240

Most paralegals and legal assistants work full time. Some may work more than 40 hours per week in order to meet deadlines.


 

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