Lawyer or Paralegal: Which is the Right Career Path for You?

To many people, the law is an exciting profession, full of high profile murder trials and celebrity clients. The problem is that working as a lawyer is nothing like the profession is portrayed on TV. Most of the work lawyers do is mundane, repetitive, and not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff. Still, this doesn’t stop thousands of people applying to law school every year in the hope of scoring a lucrative career as a criminal law attorney or corporate legal shark.

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Unfortunately, there is less demand for lawyers these days and not enough jobs for those who do qualify. However, if you have a passion for law, you could train to be a paralegal instead. In this article, we are going to look at what a paralegal does and whether you should pursue this career path – or whether you are still better off studying for a law degree.

The Cost of Education

Further education is very expensive these days. By the time you graduate from college, you are likely to be saddled with a huge debt. It could take you ten years or more to pay down this debt, and even longer if you can’t find a decent paying job. Lawyers are well paid, but it’s hard to find a job right now, so unless you graduate from Harvard Law School or similar, you are not guaranteed to find work as a lawyer.

Employment Prospects

To become a paralegal, you still need to go to college or pass a two-year certification program, but your employment prospects are better. Paralegals support lawyers, so they are always in demand. Your job as a paralegal is to do admin, filing, research and review documents. You will be asked to transcribe depositions, highlight case notes, research previous case decisions that are relevant, and even take statements from witnesses.

The job of a paralegal is continually evolving and today’s paralegals enjoy a far more stimulating work environment than their predecessors. You will be supervised by a qualified lawyer if you work for a firm like, but once you have been there for a number of years, you can expect greater autonomy.

The good news is that there are plenty of available jobs for paralegals. Billable hours for paralegals are less expensive, so law firms can save their clients’ money if they delegate some of the work to an experienced paralegal. As a result, many law firms are increasing their paralegals and reducing the volume of their legal fee earners.

Choose the Right Career Path

A career as a paralegal is not for you if you dream of becoming a high-flying attorney, but it really depends on where you see yourself in ten or twenty years. Ambitious types who have what it takes to earn a place at a prestigious law school should give it their all, but if you are less ambitious (or would rather earn a steady income as one of the team), a career as a paralegal could be a better choice. Besides, you can always go back to earn your law degree later.

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