Should I Stay a Paralegal or Go On to Law School?

Do you ask yourself, Should I Stay a Paralegal or Go On to Law School? If so we have answers for you in this article!

Paralegal vs Lawyer: What’s the Difference?

A paralegal differs from a lawyer in that a paralegal is appropriately trained to practice in the legal profession; whereas a lawyer is licensed to practice law.

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Lawyers have the ability to practice law independently, or with the assistance of a paralegal or a legal assistant. Paralegals are only permitted to perform work that has been delegated to them by a lawyer. The lawyer assigning the task remains completely responsible for the actions of the paralegal, and the results of the task.

The concepts of paralegal vs legal assistant are used interchangeably. However, the National Association of Legal Assistants differentiated the two by offering a distinct certificate for each specialty. So, at present, there is now a distinction between a paralegal vs a legal assistant.  The duties of a legal assistant are more in line with that of a traditional legal secretary.

Many professional paralegals find they have a renewed piqued interest in becoming a lawyer. The transition from paralegal to a lawyer is somewhat of a natural progression, but it takes careful planning. Most paralegals find helpful guidance from law school programs and the legal professionals with whom they currently work.

Is a Paralegal Degree Worth Pursuing?

In other words, how much do legal assistants make?

Great Question.

According to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for a Paralegal/Legal Assistant was nearly $51,000, or approximately $25 an hour in 2018. The government’s statisticians anticipate that paralegal pay and compensation will grow at a pace of 15% through the year 2026.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for all United States’ salaried and wage workers in the first quarter of 2019 was $905 per week or approximately $47,000 annually. The same BLS newsletter denotes that US workers, who have earned only a high school diploma during the same timeframe, earned a median weekly salary of $739 per week.

So, how much do legal assistants make?

Given the salary statistics, it is clear to see that a paralegal’s pay, on average, exceeds the median of all workers.

Is it worth it to Switch to Law School?

While earning your degree and studying for paralegal education, compare the salary of a paralegal vs a lawyer salary. Understanding the earning potential of each legal professional is a legitimate comparison.

The higher salary commanded by a lawyer is due to the lawyer’s lengthy education and the responsibility they undertake.

As one considers switching to law school, it is also critical to consider the fact that becoming a lawyer does not only require an additional commitment in terms of time and money. A Juris Doctor (JD) graduate, which is no small feat by itself,  must be able to then pass the state bar to actually be able to ‘practice law.’

Finally, one of the reasons to consider switching to law school is that you know that you want to be a lawyer. Know if practicing law is the career path that will bring success and happiness.

As the old adage profoundly states — You never work a day in your life, if your work is something that you love.

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