So you think you want to be a paralegal? Law firms throughout the DC area are always seeking qualified paralegals and other administrative support positions. So how can you become a paralegal, what does the job entail, and what can you expect in terms of salary? If you think you might have what it takes to become a paralegal, here are a few things to consider.
Not everyone is cut from the same cloth, and for that reason, not everyone will excel at the same jobs. The world needs a variety of skill sets, and if your personality fits as a legal administrative professional, that’s a great opportunity. Someone who will make a great paralegal should have good judgment, creative thinking skills, the ability to apply logic, persistence, and have patience.
Of course, there are specific skills that are necessary to be a successful paralegal. Two of the top skills are organization and communication. Paralegals will need to organize items, files, and time with great accuracy. They will need to communicate in person and in writing to a variety of people from clients to counsel. The ability to pay attention to detail, work well on your own, and thrive in high-pressure situations will all play a part.
To become a paralegal, you can’t just wave a magic wand and be a paralegal, some training and experience are necessary. There are degree and certification programs available in all major cities. Some are after-hours and continuing education classes, or you can opt for an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.
In the DC area, a paralegal just starting might earn a median salary of around $62,000. A more senior-level paralegal may be able to make as much as $86,000 annually. Of course, there is a big difference depending on where you live and what kind of job. For example, if you work for a non-profit group providing community services, your salary range may be lower than working with a large firm in the DC area.
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