Best and Worst Things about Being a Paralegal

Irfan ahmed
By Irfan Ahmad Jan 24, 2024
Best and Worst Things about Being a Paralegal

‘A lawyer’ is probably one of the most common responses that we get to hear when we ask children what they would like to be when they grow up. But the world of paralegals and legal assistants is not that easy to excel in. Like many other top professions, working with a law firm has its own merits and demerits. Undoubtedly, being a paralegal assistant is one of the most respected and challenging career options that there is, and there are several other unforeseeable pros and cons attached to it.

So, if you or someone you know is considering a career as a legal attorney or a similar role, it is imperative to go ahead with a clear mindset about the associated ups and downs. Virtual Employee is one of the most loved choices for people who wish to hire dedicated legal assistant from India. These legal professionals are accredited with the best educational qualifications and a variety of work experiences. Today, they bring to you the best and worst things about being a paralegal, so that you can take charge of your own journey with valuable insights. Let’s start the expedition now!

Best Things about Being a Paralegal Assistant

As we have already said, making a career in the field of law is a ‘dream come true’ for many. Let us uncover the biggest advantages of being in this profession one by one in this section!

1. More comfortable work schedules

Let us all agree to the fact that most of us prefer stability within our workspace. Be it graveyard shifts or frequently stretched working hours, it is not easy to accommodate the fluctuating demands of the corporate world. After all, who would want to work for more than 40 hours a week, or even worse, on Saturdays? Working over the board (without being paid handsomely for it at least) to meet an unforeseen deadline can often put you on a bad front when it comes to optimum work-life balance. However, a paralegal assistant only has to comply with standard working days, making law firms one of the best work spaces in the world.

2. Plethora of specializations to choose from

Everyone of us is carved different, and when we get employed in a career stream that is specially customized based on our personal interests and skills, the chances of excelling professionally also grow manifold. There are so many different types of team members that make a paralegal firm successful. Some of them include family law paralegals, intellectual property paralegals, litigation paralegals, real estate paralegals, immigration paralegals, corporate paralegals, and estate and probate paralegals. You can go ahead with the field that you think is the best fit. For instance, if you can easily decipher emotionally delicate situations, you can choose to be a family law paralegal. Similarly, the role of an immigration paralegal is the perfect fit for professionals who are adept at speaking (and most preferably, writing) more than one language. Apart from your functional area, you can also choose from several promising industries (like banking and insurance, government subsidiaries and patient care) to work in.

3. Lucrative job that pays well and provides recognition

According to the recent researches, a regular employee at a decent paralegal law firm in the US earns somewhat around $60,000 to $110,000 per year. This massive amount implies that experienced paralegal professionals derive one of the highest average annual salaries in the world. In fact, if they work for the federal government, the salary becomes even higher. But that’s not it! The career advancement that you can draw while working at a nice law firm is unparalleled. If you have what it takes, you can reach for top positions like a litigation support manager, paralegal director, or a paralegal supervisor, which implies that your income opportunities will also multiply.

4. A long and dependable career option

A solid employment ground is something that we all strive for. When you talk about employees working in reputed paralegal firms, you can rest assured about the job prospects that are readily available for them. In fact, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow exponentially all over the world in the coming years. The changing economy has also bestowed the advantage of being your own boss on experienced paralegals. As the scope of outsourcing and freelancing opportunities has risen drastically over the past few years, paralegal assistants have also come forward as independent contractors to fill in the demand-supply gap. Several law firms also choose to hire dedicated legal assistant from India to get the work done at a fraction of the overall cost.

5. Honour and contentment of being in public service

If you have the heart of a philanthropist and believe in giving back to the society, paralegal work might be a good opportunity for you to earn peace of mind along with your remuneration. Not only do paralegal assistants serve as a right-hand man for lawyers by helping them prepare for cases, but they also help facilitate the legal journey of clients. Most law professionals (especially the ones who work in streams like criminal law public defence, family law, environmental law, immigration law, bankruptcy or probate) feel a strong obligation for social justice to prevail.

Worst Things about Being a Paralegal Assistant

Just like every other profession, career in law also has some disadvantages associated to it (many of these exist when you cannot land job at a reputed law firm though). Here is what experienced legal attorneys reveal that the worst things about their occupation are:

1. Lack of a defined career path

Paralegal assistants often grapple with limited career growth within most organizations. Advancement typically necessitates transitioning to entirely different roles, such as management, litigation support, or tech support. While an option is to return to college and pursue law school, this route presents its own set of challenges.

2. High stress and pressure

The legal profession is inherently deadline-driven, with most court systems structured around a rigid calendar. Adherence to specific timelines is imperative, as entire cases can be dismissed for failing to meet these deadlines. The relentless nature of legal work can lead to heightened stress levels, particularly as paralegals at any law firm navigate multiple daily deadlines and bear the weight of client expectations. Tight deadlines, heavy workloads and a diminishing workforce create an environment where extended working hours, overtime and weekend commitments become the norm. Paralegals and legal assistants working at unethical law firms find themselves working well beyond the standard 40 hours a week, a contrast to their counterparts in corporate and government spheres who may enjoy more lenient schedules.

3. Administrative and office dynamics challenges

A recurring grievance among practising paralegal assistants is that their office dynamics usually involve dealing with demanding partners, jealous associates, competitive colleagues, disrespectful opposing counsel, irate clients, and challenging vendors on an everyday basis. The confluence of long working hours, stringent deadlines, and high stakes can contribute to a potentially toxic work environment, where they may bear an undue share of workplace challenges. The economic dynamics of law firms drive the allocation of tasks, with more routine and administrative responsibilities often delegated to paralegals, particularly at the entry level. Complex and challenging assignments tend to be reserved for higher-ranking staff members who can bill at premium rates.

4. Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL)

Paralegals operate under strict limitations, prohibited from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). State statutes universally restrict certain legal activities to licensed legal attorneys, including accepting cases from clients, setting fees, rendering legal advice, signing legal documents, and appearing in a representative capacity before a court. This restriction makes it challenging for paralegals to receive external recognition for their behind-the-scenes contributions.

5. Lack of required appreciation

Underutilization of paralegals is a common challenge arising from a misunderstanding or minimization of their roles. Proactively educating paralegal law firms and corporate leaders about their capabilities becomes paramount for overcoming this barrier. Consistent efforts are necessary to emphasize the diverse ways in which paralegals contribute to client service and profitability.

Wrapping Up

In the realm of employment, a spectrum exists, ranging from highly satisfying occupations to those posing significant challenges. Situated between these extremes is the profession of a paralegal, also known as a legal assistant. While this career can offer immense fulfilment, it is not without its drawbacks, encompassing issues such as a lack of respect and elevated stress levels. For many individuals, their ability to tolerate these challenges is linked to an introspective understanding of why they initially chose to embark on a legal career.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of a paralegal career is deeply intertwined with individual perspective and passion for the law. Understanding the intricacies of the profession before embarking on this journey is crucial. For those with a genuine commitment to making a difference in people’s lives, these challenges need not be insurmountable. The job’s essence lies in what one makes of it, underscoring the importance of informed decision-making before diving into the field of law. But a big comforting factor down the road is the increasing staffing needs for paralegals, especially remote options. As more and more law firms and business owners hire dedicated legal assistant from India, the occupation doesn’t seem to be in a bad light at all for aspiring paralegals and legal assistants. So, weigh your options carefully!

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