19 Pros and Cons of Being a Paralegal

Search Paralegal Programs

Get information on Paralegal programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Search

Being a paralegal is challenging and rewarding.

You’ll work closely with an attorney and clients.

It’s a great opportunity to help people in their time of need, but it can take a toll in several ways.  

Wondering if you should become a paralegal?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of being a paralegal. 

Search Paralegal Programs

Get information on Paralegal programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

Pros of Being a Paralegal 

First, let’s talk about the benefits of this career. 

Pros of being a paralegal include:

  1. Good starting point for your career
  2. Less education than an attorney
  3. No bar exam required
  4. Reasonable salary
  5. Interesting work
  6. Practical legal experience
  7. High demand
  8. Flexibility
  9. Making a difference

1. Good Starting Point for a Legal Career

If you are interested in the legal field, but don’t want to spend the time (and money) on becoming an attorney, being a paralegal can be a great starting point. 

You can begin your career as a paralegal.

You’ll get an idea of what it would be like to become a lawyer, and you can decide whether you want to climb the ladder and become one. 

2. Less Education Than an Attorney

Paralegals are typically required to have an associate’s degree, although some positions require a bachelor’s degree.

This means that you can begin your career in 2 years in many cases. 

Being a lawyer, on the other hand, requires much more education.

First, you need to get a bachelor’s degree.

Then, you need to pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) to gain admission to law school.

You’ll need to complete 3 years of law school before becoming an attorney. 

3. No bar exam is required

Becoming a lawyer means that you must pass the bar exam for the state you want to practice in, after completing law school.

The bar is considered very difficult to pass. 

You won’t need to take the bar exam to become a paralegal, which makes the career much more attainable. 

4. Reasonable salary

Paralegals make a reasonable salary as well.

The average salary is $56,000 per year.

On the lower end of the spectrum, some paralegals make $37,000.

On the higher end, experienced paralegals make as much as $95,000. 

This is a little better than the average career that requires an associate’s degree, at $52,000 per year. 

5. Interesting Work

Not all of the work you’ll do as a paralegal will be interesting, but a portion of it will be.

In addition to answering phones and compiling documents, you will be conducting legal research and interviewing clients. 

You will likely work on some interesting cases.

You’ll get an insider view of the case because you will do a lot of the research.

You’ll also know that you are an integral part of the process. 

Being a paralegal is also interesting because each day will be different.

You will be working on different cases in different capacities. 

6. Practical Legal Experience

Being a paralegal will give you lots of practical legal experience.

Of course, this is great if you plan to continue your education and become an attorney.

Legal knowledge can also be valuable in many careers, including business and law enforcement. 

You may even find your legal knowledge valuable in your personal life.

You’ll quickly become the person friends and family come to when they have a legal question.

It’s important to note that you can’t offer professional legal advice. 

7. High demand

Over the next decade, paralegal positions are expected to grow by 14%, which is much faster than average.

This provides you with some degree of job security.

You can expect this position to be in demand now and in the future. 

8. Flexibility

Some paralegal positions also offer you flexibility.

If it’s important to you to have flexible work hours, you may want to consider becoming a paralegal.

If you want to continue your education, have family obligations, or simply want to set your own hours, being a paralegal can allow you to do so. 

9. Making a Difference 

One of the biggest pros of being a paralegal is that you are making a difference.

You can help people get the justice they deserve, or defend them from unfair accusations.

You’ll be helping people when they need it most. 

Cons of Being a Paralegal

Despite the benefits of being a paralegal, there are some downsides as well. 

The cons of being a paralegal include:

  1. Ethical dilemma
  2. boring cases
  3. High workload
  4. long hours
  5. High pressure
  6. Education required
  7. Not a lot of authority
  8. Lack of job stability
  9. Little appreciation
  10. Bearer of bad news 

1. Ethical Dilemmas

As a paralegal, you can expect to encounter some ethical dilemmas.

You may find you have a conflict of interest if your attorney is representing or prosecuting a case involving someone that you know. 

Your attorney may defend clients that you suspect are guilty.

You will also encounter clients that you simply don’t like, but you will be expected to do your best regardless of your personal feelings. 

2. Boring Cases or Work

Being a paralegal is certainly interesting, but you’ll also have boredom-inducing moments.

You may spend time doing clerical work, or work on cases that are a complete snore-fest for you. 

3. High Workload

As a paralegal, you can expect a high workload.

Just like your attorney, you’ll have lots to do.

The others in your office will rely on you to complete your tasks in a timely manner.

In some cases, careers and even lives may depend on your ability to handle your caseload. 

4. Long Hours

Long hours typically come along with a high workload.

Of course, your workload and hours will also fluctuate, based on your attorney’s caseload.

You may have times when you work very long hours, and other times when you have plenty of free time. 

Before becoming a paralegal, you’ll need to decide if this is a commitment you are willing to make. 

5. High Pressure

Being a paralegal is a high-pressure job.

Not only are the people in your office relying on you.

Their clients are as well.

Making a mistake can have serious consequences in this line of work. 

The workload and hours also contribute to this being a high-pressure career choice.

Some people thrive on this type of pressure and will find strength and skills they didn’t know they had.

However, others can buckle under the stress. 

6. Education Required

While you won’t need to spend more than half a decade in school like an attorney, you will need to get an associate’s degree before becoming a paralegal. 

This can be a con if you want to avoid college or begin a career immediately. 

Of course, you can begin working as a legal secretary with no education beyond a high school diploma, and work your way up to becoming a paralegal. 

7. Not a Lot of Authority

As a paralegal, you don’t have a lot of authority or job autonomy.

You’ll be given tasks to complete by your attorney, and expected to get them done.

You’ll also be working on the cases the attorney selects, and within their deadlines. 

You’ll probably do a lot of the specifics on your own, but someone else will be determining the overall scope of your work. 

If you prefer being in control of your own tasks, this can be difficult to deal with. 

8. Lack of Job Stability

Paralegals are in demand, and demand is only expected to rise.

However, there can be a lack of job stability.

If an attorney has a high caseload, they will need a paralegal.

If their caseload diminishes, they may no longer need your services. 

9. Little Appreciation 

Paralegals are often underappreciated.

It can be a “thankless” job.

You may not receive a lot of recognition from your attorney.

Clients will see your attorney as the one who wins the case, so don’t expect thank-you cards from them, either. 

Nurses face a similar issue.

They do much of the hard work, but doctors seem to get all the credit. 

If you need frequent appreciation or validation, being a paralegal might not be the best choice for you.

If you feel that a job well done is its own reward, you might be ok with this aspect. 

10. Bearer of Bad News 

As a paralegal, you’ll need to deliver some bad news from time to time.

You may need to tell a client that their motion was denied, or that the date of their hearing was moved.

This also applies to your attorney.

Perhaps they are looking for a precedent that supports their case, and you discover that the precedent supports the other side. 

Can you handle delivering tough news to clients and your attorney?

Remember, along with the bad news, there will be plenty of times you’ll be delivering good or exciting news. 

19 Pros and Cons of Being a Paralegal – Summary Table

Pros of Being a ParalegalCons of Being a Paralegal
1. Good Starting Point for a Legal Career1. Ethical Dilemmas
2. Less Education Than an Attorney2. Boring Cases or Work
3. No bar exam required3. High Workload
4. Reasonable salary4. Long Hours
5. Interesting Work5. High Pressure
6. Practical Legal Experience6. Education Required
7. High demand7. Not a Lot of Authority
8. Flexibility8. Lack of Job Stability
9. Making a Difference9. Little Appreciation
10. Bearer of Bad News

Should You Become a Paralegal? 

When asking yourself if should you be a paralegal, you’ll need to think about your skills, what you enjoy, and what you value most.

Do you have a strong need to help people, or see that justice is served?

Can you handle the stress of the job, and delivering bad news?

Being a paralegal may be a good fit.

On the other hand, if long hours, lots of research, and little appreciation are things you can’t cope with, you may want to consider a different career. 

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *