Jobs in the legal field are regarded as excellent career opportunities, whether the individual is a paralegal, an attorney or a paralegal pursuing a law degree to become an attorney. A question often asked of paralegals is if a paralegal can become an attorney. Anyone willing to make the commitment can become an attorney, but paralegals have many advantages should they decide to pursue this career.
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How Can a Paralegal Become a Lawyer?
Paralegals can become lawyers by attending law school and passing the bar exam just like anyone else that aspires to become a lawyer. As paralegals, they spend a lot of time assisting lawyers in their work. They file documents, perform legal research, schedule appointments for clients and witnesses, write legal reports for trials, help interview witnesses, file briefs and appeals and accompany lawyers in the courtroom. All of this work is gaining them not just experience but also knowledge of what goes on in a law firm and what a lawyer does each day.
Law students must complete externships and internships prior to earning the law degree. Depending on the law firm, the work the individual does as a paralegal may be used to fulfill the internship requirements. This experience is not only beneficial from a work experience standpoint but may be used to fulfill internship requirements
Advantages Paralegals Have as Law Students
Law students who are paralegals have many advantages. If they’ve worked as paralegals for any length of time, they’ve become familiar with many of the legal aspects of a law firm. Legal information that is new and unfamiliar to the average law student is common knowledge to the paralegal, which makes it easier for the paralegal to do well in law school.
Often, the law firm will encourage the paralegal to earn the law degree and help them in any way they can. Becoming a lawyer requires completing a four-year bachelor’s degree followed by at least three years in law school. Many of the credits, plus work experience, may go towards some of the credits required in the bachelor’s degree program.
Many legal courses can be taken online, allowing the student to work and earn the degree. Since the work is as a paralegal, the student is not only earning a salary but also gaining more experience in a legal environment. All of this experience helps the student with the field of legal studies.
Career Outlook for the Legal Profession
Individuals working in the legal profession are in demand and have the potential to earn very good wages. Paralegals are predicted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to see an employment growth of 15% while attorneys should see a growth of 8% during the decade of 2016 and 2026. Lawyers are constantly in demand to either prosecute or defend those in need.
In an attempt to save time and money, lawyers are choosing to use paralegals to assist them in their work. As of May 2017, paralegals earned annual wages ranging from $53,910 to $81,180 or more. Attorneys earned wages ranging from $57,430 to $178,840. Factors like experience, employer and location can affect wages for both of these professions.
Working as paralegals can be stimulating, challenging and exciting. It can also help pave the way towards a lifetime career in the legal profession. Whether the paralegal chooses to continue to do paralegal work or become an attorney, he or she will have a career that offers many benefits and rewards.