"HOW DO YOU GET READY? Back to Top
There are several ways to become a paralegal. Most people go to a community college for a 2-year degree. A few schools offer bachelor's or master's degrees in paralegal studies. Some people become paralegals after getting a bachelorís degree in something other than paralegal studies.
Some people learn on the job. Sometimes, legal secretaries become paralegals.
Paralegals need good research and writing skills. They should also be able to use computers. Paralegals often deal with the public, so they should be polite. They also have to be honest and ethical.
To start getting ready for this job, students can take English classes to learn how to write and do research. Social studies classes teach about research and the law. People who want to be paralegals need strong reading skills."
It won't hurt to take the courses, as they will prepare you for complex legal research, legal writing, and get you more comfortable with legal terms and concepts. Understand that while it isn't a bad thing to do, it won't give you any sort of monster advantage when law school comes around. While some paralegals certainly believe they are just like lawyers, the truth is that they are more like legal secretaries who understand and are capable of document review, legal research, and basic legal writing. Paralegals do a lot of briefing and memo creation under careful, direct supervision of attorneys. As a current law clerk, I do a lot of paralegal type work and can tell you that it does help you understand research, terminology, and process.
Go for it! Worst case scenario- you hate it and give up. Best case scenario - you love it and it helps you in law school. Mediocre case scenario - you decide you want to be a full time paralegal and find a career. Being a paralegal at a bigger firm, you can earn $65k and up without having to spend $150k on a legal education. I know a paralegal at a top firm in Chicago who works 50 hours a week and earns $120k a year with full benefits. His bosses are always telling him to go to law school and he usually responds by pointing out that he doesn't think it's a good idea to quit a job that pays so well so he can spend $150k for the privilege of working 80-100 hours a week to earn the same (all for the possibility that he *might* earn more *if* he is given a partnership). Being a paralegal can be a great job in the legal field without the high cost of admission that law students end up paying. I know another paralegal who works like a consultant and he's made a great living working temporary jobs (he just told me that this year, a bad year, he netted around $50k working about 8 months out of the year - not bad).