What advancement/ promotions opportunities are available for the person who works as a paralegal, also known as a legal assistant?
1) Paralegal Advancement Possibilities
Although legal assistant cannot automatically receive promotions to careers that require a license— such as carrying out research and analysis, representing a client and giving legal advice, and signing documents— they often find that law schools are more willing to accept them than they otherwise would be; and besides, the paralegal career is broad enough that there are plenty of advancement opportunities within the field.
To be a legal assistant is to have to keep up with the latest legal news, and thus to be constantly learning about the field. It also means to have many different areas of law to choose from— criminal, civil, immigration, labor— as well as a variety of settings to work in— private law offices, corporations, government agencies, courts, and banks. About seven out of every ten paralegals work in a legal office. The remaining three work in one of the other places just mentioned.
Smaller companies may not offer the same opportunities for promotions that larger ones do, however. In that case, the legal assistant would be better advised to seek opportunities elsewhere. And as the paralegal works longer and gains more experience, his employer allows him to do more on his own. Advancement may also include promotions to legal managerial positions; and paralegals may also supervise less senior employees and give them assignments.
2) Independent Paralegal Business
It is also possible to start a paralegal business of one’s own. Many a legal assistant also does freelancing, working for any lawyer who is willing to hire them. They may even shift to work outside the field of law altogether. For example, some former paralegals go on to work as real estate examiners. Wages for legal assistants range from $44,480 for those who work in legal services to $58,540 for those employed by the executive branch of the federal government. (Such a salary is often enough to pay for law school tuition; and many paralegals continue to work as such while studying for their degree.)
3) Other Careers Paralegals Can Aspire To
Becoming an attorney is not the only career that is potentially open to a legal assistant. Other careers in the court system— such as district attorney, assistant district attorney, assistant district attorney, or even judge— are offices to which a career in law school can stand one in good stead. And so are top public offices in the executive and legislative branches at all levels of government— president, governor, mayor, or legislator. In fact, many of our presidents began their careers either by going to law school or by working in a law office.
There is no doubt about it— not only are there ample opportunities for advancement and promotions in paralegal work, but such a career can also be a stepping stone to law school— and hopefully, the bar. And the career of lawyer’s assistant is one of the fastest- growing in the country.