One area of the economy left largely unscathed by the COVID pandemic is the legal industry. Despite early setbacks, the job market rebounded quickly, and since October 2020, the demand for lawyers has “skyrocketed.” The higher demand is credited to increases in litigations, bankruptcies, and real estate negotiations that occurred during the pandemic.
This is good news for anyone wanting to pursue remote paralegal jobs. Paralegals are professionals employed or retained by an attorney to perform legal services under their supervision. A remote paralegal works under the direct supervision of an attorney but works from home or another location outside the attorney’s office.
If you are considering a career as a paralegal, below are the answers to seven common questions about remote paralegal jobs.
1. How Do I Become a Remote Paralegal?
Paralegals can become qualified through education, training, or work experience. In some instances, individuals may work their way into paralegal positions from other related positions such as administrative assistant for a law firm. However, most paralegals receive some type of formal education.
Formal programs vary from a two- or four-year college degree to a certificate or diploma from a vocational or business school. If you’re looking for a good program, start by referring to the list of over 1,000 U.S. education providers approved by the American Bar Association.
In addition, paralegal professional associations offer a variety of certifications that paralegals can work toward. A few options to check out include the National Association of Legal Assistants, the American Alliance of Paralegals, and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
One of the most important things for a prospective paralegal to remember is that paralegal education is not the equivalent of a law school education. Graduates are not eligible for the bar exam, and credits cannot be applied to law school.
2. Are There Different Kinds of Remote Paralegals?
There are as many different kinds of remote paralegals as there are legal specialties. Below are just a few areas of specialization:
- Intellectual Property/Patent Paralegals support attorneys who specialize in intellectual property law. Job duties include assisting clients with patents and trademarks and pursuing litigation as necessary.
- Nurse Paralegals are registered nurses that also have training or work experience as a paralegal. Their role is to translate technical jargon and serve as an expert witness in court.
- Employment and Labor Law Paralegals specialize in issues concerning employment practices, labor law disputes, labor strikes, unemployment, and insurance disputes.
- Corporate Paralegals assist attorneys with ensuring that an organization’s business and hiring practices adhere to the law.
- Real Estate Paralegals facilitate communication between lawyers, buyers, sellers, lenders, and agents, and are responsible for preparing and filing real estate documents.
3. How Much Do Remote Paralegals Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for paralegals was $52,920, or $25.44 per hour, as of May 2020.
4. What Is the Highest-Paying Remote Paralegal Job?
One way to secure high-paying remote paralegal jobs is to specialize in high-demand and newly emerging positions such as Legal Project Management at $87,375 per year, or Intellectual Property Paralegal at $86,800 per year. Another is to work your way into a management position and supervise other paralegals as a Paralegal Manager, making $104,775 per year.
In addition, paralegal pay varies by industry. According to the BLS, below are the five top-paying industries for paralegals:
- Merchant Wholesalers: $134,210
- Land Subdivision: $90,360
- Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing: $85,440
- Grantmaking and Giving Services: $85,350
- Natural Gas Distribution: $84,300
5. Is There a Demand for Remote Paralegals?
The job outlook for remote paralegal jobs is great! The BLS projected employment to grow 12% over the next decade, which is a faster rate than the average for all occupations. Growth is driven by increasing numbers of attorneys requiring support as well as the need to replace current workers. However, because paralegals cost less than attorneys, paralegals are also recruited in attempts to cut costs by legal firms and corporations.
6. Is Being a Paralegal a Stressful Job?
Being a paralegal can be very stressful for a number of reasons. Firstly, paralegals work long hours in tandem with the lawyers they support. The lawyers as well are working long hours and can be very demanding and perfectionistic. Moreover, paralegals are also responsible for a wide variety of tasks where accuracy is critical. Mistakes and omissions can be very costly to both the firm and the clients.
As a remote paralegal, you may have more control over your hours and therefore, your ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, the nature of the work means that some stress is always present that can lead to burnout. If you don’t enjoy a fast-paced, pressure-filled work environment, you may want to choose a different career.
7. Who Hires Paralegals?
Some remote paralegals are directly employed by a law firm or other business, but still work from home. They are W2 employees with payroll taxes withdrawn from their paychecks. They may also receive a variety of benefits, including healthcare and retirement savings.
Remote paralegals can also work as independent contractors or on freelance projects for one or more attorneys. This type of employment requires the individual to take responsibility for their own payroll taxes, healthcare insurance, and retirement savings.
Examples of firms that frequently hire for remote paralegal jobs include:
Equivity VA is a virtual administrative support provider for small businesses and entrepreneurs delivering marketing, advertising, bookkeeping, and paralegal services.
Special Counsel is a provider of legal staffing and recruiting services.
Ballard Spahr LLP
Ballard Spahr LLP is a law firm that specializes in litigation, securities and regulatory enforcement, business and finance, intellectual property, public finance, and real estate matters.
If you’re interested in a legal career but don’t want to be an attorney, a paralegal may be the perfect option. Remote paralegal jobs are on the rise and offer good pay and many opportunities for specialization and advancement. You can start looking for your new job today by searching the Virtual Vocations database for the perfect remote paralegal job.
Do you want to pursue a remote paralegal job? What excites you about the prospect? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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