Learn about the salaries, job duties and job outlook of a few careers in law that require a bachelor's degree.
A bachelor's degree in law enables individuals to work various jobs in the field, including paralegals, legal assistants and legal secretaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants can expect to make the most income working for the federal government or in finance and insurance. The BLS also states that the lowest ten percent earned $30,670 or less and the highest ten percent earned $79,010 or more as of May 2015. As of March 2017, salary, benefits and compensation information company PayScale.com reported the following median annual salaries for legal professionals:
Paralegals earned a median of $45,973 per year. PayScale.com noted that a skill in legal compliance allowed professionals to make more money, with individuals making a median of $50,977. Salary also tends to increase as professionals gain more years of experience.
The median annual salary for legal assistants was $41,369. According to PayScale.com, having skills in litigation case management can result in higher pay for legal assistants, with the median pay being $46,180. Paralegals and legal assistants who work for the federal government made median annual wages of $63,720 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
Legal secretaries had a median salary of $50,777 as of March 2017. This salary was most influenced by skills in litigation case management, according to PayScale.com. Legal secretaries with this skill made a median of $51,368. Entry level positions may expect to earn around $33,000 while more than 20 years of experience may earn someone $59,000.
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While they all fall under the umbrella of the legal field, paralegals, legal assistants and legal secretaries each have distinct job duties.
- Paralegals perform legal work under the supervision of a licensed lawyer.
- They are not permitted to perform any duties related to the practicing of law in a courtroom setting.
- Paralegals often specialize in a particular area, such as labor law, corporate law or litigation.
- Duties often include using computer software to review and organize case documents.
- Legal assistants generally perform the same duties as paralegals, though actual duties can differ by employer.
- Although the terms 'paralegal' and 'legal assistant' are often used interchangeably, the term 'legal assistant' is sometimes used to describe individuals who perform secretarial duties for lawyers as well.
- Legal secretaries prepare various types of legal documents and correspondence, including subpoenas, summonses and motions.
- Legal secretaries sometimes review law journals and conduct legal research.
- All duties are performed under the supervision of a lawyer or paralegal.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of paralegals and legal assistants was projected to grow by 8% from 2014-2024. A need to hire paralegals to complete research and perform various types of legal services was expected to drive much of the growth in this field.
For that same decade, the BLS estimated a 4% decrease in employment of legal secretaries. This anticipated drop in jobs was due to more law firms assigning work typical of legal secretaries to paralegals and legal assistants, thus cutting costs.
Paralegals, legal assistants and legal secretaries are a few of the available jobs for individuals with a bachelor's degree in law. Except for legal secretaries, individuals can expect positive job growth in the field and median salaries below $50,000.