Trying to choose between a career as a paralegal and a career as a lawyer? Both are respectable career options and each position has its own pros and cons. Below are fifteen key considerations in choosing the best career path for you.
Paralegal: Can enter market with as little as 3 months training; Lawyer: Minimum of seven years post-high school education.
Paralegal: No paralegal school entrance exam required; Lawyer: High LSAT score necessary for law school admission.
Paralegal: No law school debt; Lawyer: Law school debt that may approach six figures.
Paralegal: No exam required to enter the paralegal field; Lawyer: Successful passage of bar exam required to practice law.
Paralegal: Limited career path and advancement opportunities; Lawyer: Broad career path and advancement opportunities.
Paralegal: Cannot practice law/supervised by attorneys; Lawyer: Can practice law and operate autonomously.
Paralegal: Top earning potential of $60-90K in most markets; Lawyer: Unlimited earning potential.
Paralegal: One of the fastest-growing careers in U.S.; Lawyer: Job outlook above average.
Paralegal: Limited responsibility/less stress; Lawyer: High level of responsibility/high level of stress.
Paralegal: Frequently entitled to overtime pay; Lawyer: No additional pay for evening and weekend hours.
Paralegal: No state-mandated legal education requirements; Lawyer: State-mandated continuing legal education requirements.
Paralegal: Shorter learning curve/perform many routine, mundane tasks; Lawyer: Large learning curve/perform many intellectually challenging and diverse tasks.
Paralegal: Strong organizational skills and attention to detail required; Lawyer: Strong communication, analytical and logical reasoning skills required.
Paralegal: May or may not have secretarial support; Lawyer: Secretarial and administrative support generally available.
Paralegal: Cubicle or shared office most common work environment; Lawyer: Private office most common work environment.