May 6, 2011
Two of the tasks of a paralegal are assisting in case investigations and interviewing witnesses. The earnings of a paralegal or paralegal assistant depend on one’s expertise, skill and geographic location. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage of a paralegal is at $46,000. But the entry-level salary is around $42,700. Those who have acquired further knowledge and skill in the field are usually paid higher. Paralegals who are backed up with at least 8 years of working experience earn an average of $66,576 in a year. Educational attainment is another determinant of a paralegal’s earnings. Although having an associate’s degree in any program of paralegal studies is sufficient to get one a job in this field, those who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree are paid higher. Salary ranges will vary greatly depending on if one is a certified paralegal, paralegal assistant or even a patent paralegal. Most employers seek to hire such candidates as these individuals have earned extra coaching and an immense foundation in the field. Improving on one’s training and expertise is a sure way for paralegals to receive really good wages.
Similar to other careers, being a paralegal has its own share of areas of advancement. The yearly pay of this profession is determined by the responsibilities that one is tasked to do. Newly hired paralegals usually have an average annual wage of $30,000. But if one excels in the assignments that is given to him or her, then it is possible for this person’s pay to increase up to $50,000 in just a matter of 12 months. Three of the most important determinants that influence a paralegal’s salary are work experience, type of employer and geographic location. Employers assess the pay of their paralegals through the expertise that one has in his or her chosen discipline. If one needs less supervision to complete his or her task, then his or her value to the company will relatively increase. The salary of a paralegal also depends on the type of legislation firm that they work for. Firms that require more work and responsibilities usually pay higher. For example, those who work in a prison defense law are paid higher than the ones employed in non-revenue law. Moreover, here are some of the law industries and their corresponding rates. Paralegals that are hired by the federal government have an average annual wage of $56,080 while those who work for the local government are paid $42,170. The ones who are employed by legal services get a yearly pay of $41,460 while those hired by the state government earn around $38,020.
Geographic location is another key ingredient that determines a paralegal’s annual salary. Based on the wage chart provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Columbia is the highest paying state at a rate of $61,660 in a year. Those who are working in New York have an average annual pay of $57,910 while the ones located in sunny California earn $56,400. Alaska also pays its paralegals relatively well. The rate in this area is around $53,830 each year. Illinois is in the 5th spot in the wage chart provided by the Bureau at an average rate of $52,330 in a year. Some areas and regions even pay as low as $35,000 annually. However, one should keep in mind that the standard of living in an area is an important factor that affects the salary for any profession. Take for example New York and California, these are said to be two of the most costly states in the entire country. The discipline that one pursues also influences the amount of salary that he or she can earn in a year. Those who took up international law in the corporate sector receive around $77,000 annually while the ones in labor get $67,100. A specialization in mergers and acquisitions can improve one’s pay to as high as $70,278 while litigation has a rate of $62,223. Those who work in law firms that have a specialization in tax laws earn around $67,500 while the ones who have a certificate in intellectual property receive $67,300. Securities pay $65,200 while corporation and enterprise is at $61,413 each year.
Paralegal Job Description
Paralegals have different tasks to fulfill, depending on the type of industry that they work for. The size and the number of employees in a company are also determinants of a paralegal’s scope of responsibility. In general, they help in conducting investigations and interviewing witnesses but they are not allowed to give any legal advice to the clients. They are also prohibited from representing a client or arguing in court. Paralegals are more of a support team, they do most of the research that is needed for a case. They work hand in hand with the lawyers to obtain all the necessary information, affidavits and documents related to the case. They also see to it that everything is prepared for the court hearings. Paralegals are in-charge of making motions that will help their team win the case. They play a very important part as they assist lawyers in the closings, hearings, trials and corporate meetings. In addition, they are also trained to make draft contracts, mortgages and separation agreements. Paralegals may work in law firms, corporate departments and government facilities.
Completing a formal education is not a paralegal’s standard job requirement. However, employers highly prefer applicants who have finished courses in paralegal studies. In fact, this industry is getting pretty competitive each year and holding a certification or degree in paralegal training is the best way that a candidate can set himself or herself apart from the crowd. Anyone is welcome to enroll in any paralegal program that is available in the community colleges and universities. Completion of such courses will grant a person an associate’s degree as well as a certificate. Aspiring paralegals may also pursue higher levels of education to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 1,000 schools nationwide that offer formal trainings in paralegal studies. But only 25 percent of this is accredited by the American Bar Association. Although it is not compulsory, this will surely boost up one’s credentials. It is also highly recommended that a candidate secures a certificate from any of the three national paralegal professional organizations: National Association of Legal Assistants, National Federation of Paralegal Associations and American Alliance of Paralegals. The important thing here is that an applicant completes a training program that will prepare him or her for the challenges involved in this career.