People working as paralegals understand a thing or two about support; one of their major job functions is to assist and support attorneys on a variety of issues. They have to be versatile, well-educated, and able to accomplish a variety of tasks when called upon to do so.
These skills seem to be serving the paralegals of Canada well, as they are given a bit more leeway, while their more heavily-regulated counterparts in the United States with specific accreditations and endorsements seem to be falling somewhat behind.
Contrarily, in the United States, paralegals seem to be losing some of their responsibility to technology. As paralegals in Canada seem to be progressing, the paralegal job in the United States, while still strong and slated to grow 18% over the next 10 years (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), is seeing a slight decrease in technology taking over some of what they were previously responsible for.
Paralegals in the US generally have a bachelor’s degree. In most situations, they want to attend a school that has an accreditation sufficient for the American Bar Association (ABA). Without this certification, a lot of excellent work experience is generally needed to get the more sought-after placements. The American Bar Association is the regulating body that oversees the legal profession, mainly lawyers, in the US.
Interestingly enough, in the US this additional level of oversight does not indicate more responsibility. As we have seen lately, paralegals in Canada are now able to practice actual law at times while under the supervision of an attorney.
Paralegals can actually specialize, which does give them a bit more autonomy, however still not to the level of actually representing clients. There are many specializations in which paralegals can work; basically as many as there are different responsibilities for lawyers.
Naturally, one would assume that Canadian paralegals make more money with their elevated status and job responsibilities; however that isn’t necessarily the case. While the average salary for Canadian paralegals is slightly higher, at $53,000 per year, the starting wage is only $30,600. The actual salary between Canadian and US paralegals is pretty similar, varying by about 10%-15%.
10%-15% is substantial, however when you consider the prices attorneys charge compared to what the paralegal is earning, even on the high end, the contrast is stark.
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