By Tzatzil LeMair
Updated September 2021
Paralegals help clients in dire straits.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.“
Charles Dickens, English Writer
Do you get personal satisfaction out of helping others? Have you ever considered a career in law? If the answer is yes, you might want to consider becoming a paralegal, a job with an average annual salary of over $50,000 and a growing employment rate.
The job of a paralegal requires daily interaction with clients to help them navigate the complex legal system. Their expertise and detailed work can significantly impact people’s lives. So, it’s no surprise that for many paralegals, their job is more of a calling than a choice.
Meet Berlin Sabillon, a paralegal working at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, an immigration firm in Austin, Texas. She decided to become a paralegal after college to obtain work experience before applying to law school. She knew she wanted to help people for a living. “Being a paralegal is just that, helping people. Not only do I get to help the clients I work with but as a paralegal, we are our attorney’s right-hand,” says Berlin about her job.
Paralegals work in all types of organizations including corporate legal departments, non-profit organizations and government agencies. However, most paralegals, like Berlin, work at law firms. Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch is an immigration attorney and Berlin’s boss. She believes paralegals require exceptional maturity and empathy to serve a client who may be experiencing hardship or may even be under siege. In addition to demonstrating these interpersonal communication skills, Kate says, “Our paralegals must be organized, self-motivated and extremely fastidious. They have people’s lives in their hands, and it’s a big responsibility.”
Paralegals perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting important documents. Berlin spends a good portion of her day communicating with her clients through email and assisting them in gathering all relevant documentation necessary to complete and file immigration forms. “I, along with our attorneys, help clients from the start of their cases to the end. Personally, I want everything I work on to have a successful outcome,” Berlin states.
As a paralegal for an immigration attorney, Berlin deals with members of vulnerable communities which brings her a great sense of satisfaction. She adds, “It’s a joy when the same client who once came in anxious and living in the shadows returns to the office to pick up their permanent resident card with so much weight lifted off their shoulders.”
In addition to a rewarding career, paralegals can feel confident about their employment prospects. According to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paralegals is projected to grow 12 percent for 2020-2030, a much faster rate than the average for all occupations. Furthermore, formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills can expect to have the best job prospects. If you are considering becoming a paralegal, Berlin says, “Go for it! If you are someone who loves to learn and loves to be challenged this is the career path for you!”
If you are on the lookout for a rewarding career that has a big impact on the people you work with, check out the Paralegal Certificate Program.
Tzatzil LeMair s currently the Senior Director of Social Media at Real Chemistry and is a former account director of Sensis TX. A graduate of the Boston University Questrom School of Business, she is an experienced advertising executive and leader in cross-cultural, multi-channel marketing.
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