Should I Stay Paralegal Or Go To Law School
Both the paralegals and lawyers are trained professionals for practicing law; however there are important differences between the two. A person who is trained, educated and has experience who is employed by law offices, government agency or another entity to perform specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. On the other hand a graduate of law school has license to practice the law in the courts.
Trying to choose between paralegal or becoming a lawyer? Or Are confused about staying as paralegal or joining the law school? Both the professions are respectable and have their own pros and cons. This article you will give you a comparative analysis which will help you in setting your preferences. After reading the article you will be in a better position to decide which side to prefer.
Paralegal Vs Law School
At most basic level the difference between the two is that a paralegal is trained to practice legal profession whereas a lawyer is licensed to practice law.
Lawyers have passed the bar so they are authorized to practice law independently or with the help of an assistant. On the other hand the paralegals are only assigned with the work by lawyers, which mean that a paralegal cannot work independently without a lawyer. A paralegal is not responsible for the task he’s assigned with. The legality and transparency of the task is to be questioned from the lawyer.
Many paralegal professionals after working for years realize that they have interest in becoming a lawyer. The progress from a paralegal to a lawyer is natural process but requires planning and careful steps. Most paralegal get assistance in this regard from the lawyers they work with.
Below are some key considerations before you make a big move of becoming a paralegal or going to law school.
Years Of Training
A Paralegal can start working even after three months of training: however some legal firms require a training of two years which is equivalent to associate degree. On the other hand a lawyer has to complete seven years of education after high school which includes a bachelor’s degree and a JD. Therefore the duration of training is an important point to note before you join one of the two.
There are no entrance exams for starting your career as paralegal. An associate degree might require an entrance exam. On the other hand high LSAT score is required to join a law school especially if you are planning to join a high tier law school.
More often becoming a paralegal does not compel you to acquire large amount of debt. On the other hand a law school might compel you to acquire debt which crosses six figures. Therefore if you are trying to avoid monetary commitment and do not have enough finances you are advised to become a paralegal. While if you are a lucky person who doesn’t has monetary problems than joining a law school could be a good choice for you.
Post Education Exam
For becoming a paralegal there are no exams required by the employers. Some states might require a certification. On the other hand, a lawyers has to pass state bar exams before he or she can start practicing
For paralegals there are limited promotions and career advancements while the lawyers have broad opportunities for career advancements. If you are a career oriented person who wants to climb more ladders of success, than becoming a lawyer or joining a law school would be a good choice for you.
The paralegals are bound to work under a supervisor who is a practicing of lawyer. It is due to the reason that paralegals are not authorized to practice law. On the other hand the lawyers are independent to work in their comfortability without any supervision. So if you are one of those who avoids working under supervision than becoming a lawyer would suit you rather than working under a supervisor who always seeks progress report from you.
The paralegals make $60,000 to $90,000 in most markets, whereas the lawyers have unlimited earning potential. As becoming a lawyer requires more efforts and time therefore their payouts are higher too. If you are willing to invest your time and hard work, you should prefer joining a law school, while if you are striving to make immediate money and start your career without wasting your time becoming a paralegal could be a good choice
The job market for the profession is growing rapidly in the United States as the compared to the profession of lawyers. There was an average growth recorded for the profession of lawyers. so before joining a law school, you must consider the growth in the field of paralegals.
Stress And Responsibilities
As the paralegals are working under the supervision, therefore they are less responsible for the tasks they perform. It is because of the reason that a lawyer will be questioned about the tasks performed by the paralegals. As the responsibility is less so the paralegals face lesser stress. On the other hand the lawyers have greater responsibility which leads to higher stress. So if you are one of those who avoids taking the responsibility and working in stress, the profession of paralegal could be a better choice for you.
Over Time Potential
The profession of paralegal is expected to get over time salaries and payouts which contribute to their overall income. The firms and government agencies might ask the paralegals to work for extra hours or even the weekends. On the other the lawyers are not entitled to overtime payments. This is because of the reason that lawyers are salaried people who have been hired for lawsuits. Therefore the lawyers’ even work on weeks ends without getting extra salaries.
The paralegals are not compelled to pursue any sort of legal education once they have complete their training. On the other hand the lawyers have to go through regular legal education even after passing the state bar exams. This continuation of education for the lawyers is mandatory to keep them updated about the current developments in the legal procedure. Therefore if you are one of those people who are fond of reading books and continuing education, becoming a lawyer could be a better option for you.
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The learning curve for paralegals is short, as they are busy with performing with regular routine tasks. On the contrary side, the lawyers have larger learning curve and are often advised to work on improving their intellect. So if you are a learning oriented person who wants to attain more knowledge, becoming a lawyer would help you improve your learning and analytical skills.
The paralegals perform routine office works for law firms and government agencies. Their taks might be to do paper work for which would help the lawyers in their proceedings in the court, therefore paralegals are required to have organization skills and attention to details in their skills set. On the other hand the lawyers have to pursue law suits in the courts and needs to convince the judges in their favor therefore a lawyer must have strong communication skills and must possess strong analytical reasoning skills.
The paralegals may or may not have sectorial support and are often required to perform the whole tasks on their own on the other hand the lawyers always have sectorial support to help him or her in carrying out the tasks. The sectorial support may include preparing administrative documents for the court proceedings, and helping the lawyers in building his case through the study of different laws.
These were some working conditions for the paralegals as well as the lawyers. Both have their own pros and cons.
If you are already a paralegal and you are thinking to join law school, continue reading. This section will help you decide whether to remain as paralegal or join law school.
Will You Be Really Getting A Salary Upgrade?
The lawyers have fixed salaries for the law suits they are pursing. The attorneys have to work for twenty hours and sometimes even more during a law suit. Even during the extra working hours they are not getting extra paid. On the other hand a paralegal can earn more and more depending upon the time he is investing or working. Therefore a paralegal can make much more than his salary by working for extra hours.
Before you decide to invest much amount in the degree of law school and you time in it, you must do a calculation. The paralegals are tempted to join to law schools due to the attractive salaries of the attorneys while in practice the case is different. Therefore you are advised to do calculations and then decide whether or not to join the law school.
How Will Your Quality Of Life Get Impacted
As a paralegal you have less stress and are in better working condition then an attorney. It is due to the reason that the law suit for whom you are working will respect for your working hours and will not disturb you once you are off the job. On the contrary the lawyers are always on call and have to respond. This stress that is faced by the attorney’s has impacts on their lives. So before you decide, you are advised to consider the stress and responsibilities that you will face as an attorney.
What Type Of Work Do You Want To Be Doing
The task of the senior attorney’s might compel you to join a law school. Keep in mind that these lawyers have spent years to reach to the position and have often faced hard days than we can imagine. You must ask yourself that are you ready for those challenging tasks? If so you, you can the law school. The nature of work that you have to perform a lawyer is different from being that of a paralegal. You might be more interested in doing the administrative work that is done by the paralegals.
Therefore before you decide you are advised to consult different lawyers. Based on their advice you can decide about joining a law school or staying paralegal.
What Type Of Job Will You Be Able To Get
Some people think that getting a job as a lawyer would be as easier as getting a job of paralegal is however it is not the. The field of attorney’s is so competitive and hierarchical that you might on get a in the same firm where you work as paralegal until you have personal connections. Therefore the employment opportunity as an attorney is to be considered before joining a law school.
If you decide to join law school, consider of the way through which you can keep you debt low so that you have more opportunities upon graduation.
Going to law school and continuing the job of paralegal can be the choice for you.