Job prospects for legal assistants look good for at least the next 10 years.
The legal profession is a growing field, so now is a great time to begin a career as a legal assistant or paralegal.
The job outlook is positive, since legal jobs are growing faster than many other fields, and will continue to do so over the next decade.
New legal assistant and paralegal job openings are predicted to rise 18% for the period of 2010-2020. That is higher than the projected growth rate for most occupations, which are only 14% over the same 10-year period.
In 2010, there were 256,000 people employed as legal assistants/paralegals in the United States. That number is expected to increase by about 50,000, to over 300,000 positions in 2020.
Legal Assistant Job Prospects
There are multiple factors that influence the increased demand of legal assistants.
One major factor is cost. Legal assistants are cheaper to employ than attorneys, so it is becoming more common to hire paralegals as a cost-cutting measure. A growing trend in corporations is toward hiring in-house legal counsel in the form of legal assistants/ paralegals rather than retaining a costly external law firm.
While law firms will still be the largest employer of legal assistants, we will see an increase of legal assistant job openings at finance and insurance companies, consulting offices, and in the healthcare industry.
Legal assistants or paralegals bring in lower billable hour fees than lawyers. In other words, it costs a client less money for a legal assistant to do work than an attorney.
Of course, legal assistants cannot do everything that a lawyer does, but it takes less time for an attorney to sign off on a paralegal’s work than to perform the entire task. In this way, a law firm is able to save their client money.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Legal assistant positions are unlikely to be outsourced. Even in a sluggish economy, the risk of paralegal jobs being sent to offshore companies for cheaper labor in other countries is low.
Especially since legal assistants often file forms in person at the clerk’s office, serve documents on individuals, interview clients, and assist attorneys during trial, all of which require a physical presence. Also, legal work is generally done during daytime office hours, and other country’s time zones are not compatible.
Legal work is increasingly performed virtually and in an effort to “go green” many firms are eliminating paperwork. That frees up more time for other tasks, but doesn’t necessarily decrease workload.
Lawsuits are continually on the rise. Attorneys are often criticized for being “sue happy,” although they are legally barred from filing frivolous lawsuits. The fact remains that there are numerous causes of action for which lawsuits may be filed and many areas of law continue to expand.
Law offices specializing in medical malpractice, personal injury, and elder care are among the areas experiencing the most growth.
Visit our job search page to find listings for open Legal Assistant positions in your local area.