Both a paralegal and a lawyer work in a similar field, but their education, career path, and responsibilities differ. There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing between a career as a paralegal and a lawyer.
Becoming a paralegal requires a minimum of only three months’ training. Some law firms require that you have a paralegal certification, which may take two years to complete. Paralegal certification programs don’t require an entrance exam, nor is there an exam required before you can enter the field. Once certified, a paralegal isn’t required to continue their education. The job market for paralegals is one of the fastest growing in the US!
However, a paralegal is limited in their career. Unlike lawyers, they can’t practice law themselves, but must be supervised. The scope of a paralegal’s work is not as varied as that of a lawyer. Many of their assignments are administrative in nature. Their work is very routine. Because of this, paralegals must have excellent attention to detail and organizational skills.
The intensity of a career as a lawyer is reflected in the education required. In order to even be considered for law school, an aspiring lawyer must have a bachelor’s degree, and have taken the LSAT, a law school entrance exam. Even after completing law school, one can’t practice law until they pass the state bar exam. Once they begin practicing law, lawyers must meet continuing education requirements in order to maintain their license to practice.
A lawyer’s work is varied and challenging. The career path offers many opportunities for advancement and taking on more responsibility. While this is exciting, it can also be stressful. Although their position is salaried, meaning there aren’t any bonuses for working overtime during the evenings or weekends, lawyers have unlimited salary potential. Lawyers often receive other perks such as their own private office, and administrative support designed to help them. Unlike paralegals, lawyers don’t have to be supervised, but have the option to work autonomously.
When determining which career path is best for you, it’s important to consider a variety of factors. How many years of school are you willing to undertake? Is the idea of seven years of school and multiple intensive exams discouraging? Would you rather complete work that is exciting but stressful or administrative and routine? Are you an excellent and analytical communicator, or do you pride yourself on your attention to detail and organizational abilities? Remember that while both paralegals and lawyers work in the same field, their day to day work looks very different.
Choosing a lawyer who best suits your needs can be a daunting task, especially for someone who doesn’t have a background in law. There are many factors that go into the choice, and there’s a lot of pressure to select the best possible option. After all, you’re choosing someone to represent you! Performing background research and interviewing potential lawyers will ensure you select a lawyer who is a good fit.
The first step in making an informed decision is to perform research. One method is to conduct a background check. To do this, contact your state’s Lawyer Disciplinary Agency. The agency will be able to inform you whether or not your potential lawyer is held in good standing, or has undergone any disciplinary action. Visit martindale.com to check your lawyer’s credentials. The site is an extensive database of legal professionals and law firms. Another option is to check for information at a local public library.
Another way to learn more about the candidate is through word of mouth. Attorney Sally Kane suggests reaching out to other attorneys to determine a lawyer’s reputation, level of skill, and temperament. Also consider asking your lawyer for references so you can speak to past clients. They will be able to inform you about their experiences.
Interviewing Your Lawyer
The best method of research is to go directly to the source. Request an interview from your potential lawyer. Many lawyers offer a free consultation session, which is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have in order to determine whether or not they would be a good fit. Before your meeting, take some time to determine your distinct needs, and then compile a list of questions in line with those needs. Don’t be afraid to ask about his or her past experience in similar cases, rate of success, and fees.
Take notes to ensure that you remember everything. After your interview, take some time to review your notes. Are you satisfied with their answers? Are the answers in line with your goals? Most importantly, would you feel comfortable having them represent you and speaking on your behalf? If you don’t feel that the lawyer is a good fit for you, move on and interview someone else. Remember, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time with this person, so it’s important to choose someone you feel you can trust and ask questions.
Selecting a lawyer requires a significant amount of effort. But rest assured, by taking the time to thoroughly research and interview your lawyer you’ll be able to properly select the individual that best fits your needs.
About Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson is a 10,000 hour commercial pilot with Single-Engine and Multi-Engine Airplane; Rotorcraft-Helicopter; Instrument-Airplane; Flight Instructor Airplane & Flight Instructor Helicopter ratings. Henry Vinson holds a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Airplane Owner and Pilot Association, American Marketing Association, American Communications Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.
Henry Vinson was born in 1960 in South Williamson, Kentucky. He graduated from Williamson High School in 1979, and, after attending South West Virginia Community College, he enrolled in the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. In 1982, he was appointed the Coroner for Mingo County, West Virginia.
Four years later, he became a funeral director for W. W. Chambers Funeral Homein Washington, DC. After his stint at W. W. Chambers Funeral Home, he owned and operated the largest gay escort service ever uncovered in Washington, DC at the age of 26.
In 2007, Mr. Vinson received a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, and today he is a successful entrepreneur who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Following a successful career as a marketing and advertising consultant, Henry Vinson opted to return to school in 2014 to pursue a law degree. Vinson is currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor Program at William Howard Taft University, America’s oldest nationally accredited distance learning law school.