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To become a paralegal, you must first have a high school diploma or a GED. The paralegal program can be found at trade schools and community colleges across the country. The community college paralegal program is generally a two year associate degree, however some lawyers prefer their paralegals to have a bachelor’s degree from a top college.

What Is A Paralegal?

Paralegals can be found working alongside lawyers, helping them by working files, organizing the case through research, and crafting supporting documents. A paralegal’s duty depends on who you work for and which area of law you're in. Because the paralegal works directly on a case and, in some instances, does much of the work to present the case, your hours are billable to the client—similar to a lawyer, only not as expensive.

At school, paralegals may specialize in

  • personal injury
  • criminal law
  • bankruptcy
  • immigration
  • corporate
  • litigation

 Courses a paralegal will take at school

  • legal research
  • legal writing
  • corporate law
  • international law
  • legal applications of computers

Qualities important to paralegals are strong communication skills, proficient computer skills, excellent interpersonal skills, and exceptional organization and research skills.

How Much Does A Paralegal Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that paralegals made an average of $62,840 in 2022, with the top 10 percent earning closer to $94,960. Your salary can vary depending on your experience, specialty, and location. 

Paralegal and Legal Assistant Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for paralegals is great. The BLS predicts that by 2031, paralegals will see an increase in employment by 14 percent, this is a little faster than the national average.