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December 2020

Are Paralegals Meant to Survive This Decade?

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Is there a bright future for Paralegals?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is out with their 2020 Occupational Outlook for Paralegals and Legal Assistants.

Bottom line – it’s not a bad time to be in, or to be getting into, a paralegal or legal assistant position*.

Consider these findings:

o Median annual pay is $51,750, compared with $39,800 for all occupations in the US.

o 80% of paralegals and legal assistants earn between $32-82,000.

o The federal government, finance, and insurance sectors pay the most, with a median income above $84,000 per year.

o Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 10% over the next 10 years, much faster than the 4% for all occupations in the US economy.

States with the most paralegals are CA, FL, NY, TX, and IL. The highest pay for paralegals and legal assistants is in DC, CO, CA, MA, and WA.

Bottom line – it’s not a bad time to be in, or to be getting into, a paralegal or legal assistant position.

If you’d like to “just get away,” consider these top-paying non-metropolitan areas for paralegals and legal assistants:

o Alaska

o Northwest Colorado

o Central New Hampshire

o North Coast of California

o Hawaii/Kauai

Or, the non-metropolitan places where there are the most jobs:

● Kansas

● North Carolina Piedmont area

● Central Kentucky

● Southwest Montana

● Southeast coastal North Carolina

The life of the paralegal is not all rosy, of course; here are a few cautions:

o Stress – The American Bar Association has recently discussed stress as a significant issue for paralegals. Unfortunately, stress among paralegal staff is not as well addressed as attorney stress. Good tools, such as a cloud-based matter management system, can significantly reduce stress among paralegals, especially those expected to bill by the hour.

o Limited ceiling – you very likely never will be the boss of a law firm if you do not have a law degree.

o Respect - routine tasks like repetitive data entry, invoice preparation, entering client and billing information, filing, and document management often fall upon paralegals. A cloud-based document management system can virtually eliminate these repetitive tasks and increase the time you have for higher profile matters.

If you are considering an exit strategy, the US Department of Labor has identified related positions that do not require a JD degree that offer greater compensation, including claims adjusting, mediating and conciliation services.

In the meantime, you can build both your expertise and job satisfaction by becoming proficient in a cutting edge technology, and/or gaining a new certification. Whichever direction you’re headed, the future looks bright for the paralegal profession.

By Aline Martin O’Brien!

Aline Martin-O’Brien has a Masters in Theory and Practice of Procedural Law from the University of Paris: Panthéon–Sorbonne. After practicing as an attorney for many years, she now lives and writes in Florida for Smokeball.

Chere Estrin is the CEO  of Estrin Legal Staffing and MediSums, medical records summarizing.


Are you seeking a new position? Our client, a global law firm, is seeking an experienced Trusts & Estate Planning Paralegal for its Los Angeles. You will work with very high-wealth clients in high profile roles. The ideal candidate has at least 5 years experience in a law firm; BA and paralegal certificate. The salary is up to $135,000 with great benefits and stable environment in this COVID day and age. Send your resume to chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com


The World is Temporarily Closed: Communication, Onsite Work and Pandemic Productivity

Pandemic1The following is one attorney's view of how the pandemic has affected his work. Not everyone is having the same experience. There are some very scary stories out there, lots of successes, too many halls of shame and finally, acceptance. Here is Ted Wells, litigation attorney in Los Angeles.

 

Communication with Colleagues and Support Staff
 
I miss popping into my colleagues’ offices to chat or to hear their thoughts about how to handle this or that problem or motion. I miss impromptu coffee runs. But what I’ve lost in that sort of thing I’ve gained in group chats and Zoom happy hours. Now, instead of popping into a colleague’s office to get their take on an idea, I do so over the group chat. I miss the face to face, but this works. Much the same is true for communicating with support staff. E-mails continue to serve the same purpose as they did when everyone was in the office, and for those conversations where in pre-pandemic days I would walk over to my secretary and talk, I simply call. On that point, the pandemic made me do something I never thought I would, which is get a landline. My cell service is too bad at home to do business, so I got a landline at home that I use primarily for that purpose. It has really worked out and I recommend it.
 
Onsite Work
 
I don’t know of any firms that ask attorneys or support staff to work onsite, and given the ease of communication apparent from the last 10 months (has it really been that long?), I don’t see a good reason to do this. Opposing counsel in every one of my cases seems to have call forwarding from their office lines and some kind of work from home arrangement. Between cloud computing services, Microsoft Remote Desktop, and call forwarding, I see no reason to ask people to come into the office until we’re all vaccinated. There is real value in coming into the office, and it’s not just the impromptu coffees and chats with colleagues I mentioned earlier. However, these days, the risks of the virus pretty clearly outweigh the benefits of coming into the office.
 
Pandemic Productivity
 
I no longer have a commute. That saves me about an hour and a half a day. This has allowed me to dedicate more time to running, which is the primary way I blow off steam and deal with the stress that seems to be coming from every angle these days. As a litigator, I welcome the increased personal time, which is precious. If anything, my productivity has increased since I began working from home. I think this is the result of the increased personal time and consequent decrease in stress, but also simply not commuting has benefits of its own. It turns out that it is less stressful to not sit on the 101 twice a day, than to do so. I don’t look forward to traffic ramping back up once this is all over, but I do look forward to seeing colleagues once again. Here’s hoping that’s sometime soon.
 
Do you have a pandemic story you would like to share? Send it to chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com
 
TWells Teded Wells is an experienced Los Angeles litigator with Romero Law, an employment law civil litigation and trial firm located in Pasadena that specializes in representing whistleblowers and employees in harassment, retaliation, and discrimination matters. Ted had five published opinions by the 5th year of practice. His firm has been the subject of recent international press coverage with respect to ongoing high-profile litigation.
 
 
Estrin.2020Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top national and international staffing organization and MediSums, medical records summarizing. She is the Co-Founding Member and Vice-President of the Organization of Legal Professionals. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award and a Los Angeles Paralegal Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com.