As the number of frivolous lawsuits increases, I know my job as a paralegal is secure. The demand for paralegals or legal assistants is growing by leaps and bounds, and the truth is that though my job may seem tedious, it is actually quite fascinating work. It was hard work getting to where I am today, but I look forward to my day. This alone makes me proud I am a paralegal. Plus, my salary of $41,000 a year is reasonable and provides me with enough money to easily afford a decent home outside of San Antonio. In fact, my 2,000 square foot ranch only cost me $100,000 brand new four years ago. I can afford my house and still have plenty of money left for frills and investments.
To become a paralegal, I went through some fast-paced, rigorous studies. I will not lie and say all of my courses were a breeze, but I was lucky enough to have professors who made things interesting. I started out with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but the job bored me. By the time I reached my 25th birthday, I realized I needed something more. Tossing my hat back into the ring, I applied for an interest-free loan, gained loan approval, and enrolled at The Texas Center for Advanced Paralegal Studies. My course work took me a full seven months and was very demanding. Within seven months, I had to successfully complete courses in:
- Business Law
- Civil Procedures
- Corporate Law
- Ethics & Law
- Family Law
- Intellectual Property
- Interviewing Practices
- Legal Researching Techniques
- Legal Writing
- Personal Injury Laws
- Real Estate Law
- Wills, Trusts, and Probates
I also attended a couple of day long seminars that fit well into my schedule. Most seminars are held on weekends, which made them accessible to me. Bankruptcy Law Changes and Legal Ethics seemed to suit me well. I enjoyed both seminars and they helped to add substance to my resume.
Part of my training involved interning for a local law office. While I enjoyed the work, I found the lawyers were too rigid for my liking. While I could have stayed on and worked for them following graduation, I wanted to start anew in a new area, so I moved to New Braunfel, Texas. After a rushed graduation and a quick move to a new area, I was ready for a break. While I searched for paralegal work, I changed pace and worked in a local grocers until I found the perfect job. It took a few months, but I finally settled into a small family practice where the lawyers and staff members are more like family members than co-workers.
One thing was certain, I followed my professors’ advice. Many of the top professors told the graduates that we would receive better pay and qualify for dream jobs by becoming certified by the State Bar of Texas Paralegals. 80% of all certified paralegals find well paying jobs easily. There were many benefits to joining:
- Yearly subscription to the Texas Paralegal Journal and the Texas Bar Journal.
- Discounts on home owners and car insurance.
- Membership possibilities with the state bar association’s credit unions, health insurance plans, dental insurance plans, and life insurance plans.
- Discounted continuing education courses and seminars.
- Advanced notice of special courses and seminars.
- Higher pay scales.
To become a member, I had to complete my paralegal schooling, gain a job with an attorney, and work for at least one year. There are different levels for students, active paralegals, and retirees, but this is the level I wanted to achieve at this stage of my career. Now, I must complete an additional six hours of education every year to retain my membership. Dues are $70 every year.
I am also certified by the State of Texas. To gain my paralegal certification, I had to pass a rigorous exam that cost $100 initially plus an additional $50 to apply for certification. Once I passed the exam, I held certification that helps me stand out among other paralegals. Now I just need to pay $15 a year to retain my certification.
While the State of Texas does not require me to hold these special certifications, I am able to perform an advanced level of tasks and receive a higher pay scale by going the extra distance. It makes me a better candidate for promotions. I am also trusted with some of the better tasks around the office.
On a daily basis, my job duties include:
- Interviewing potential clients.
- Keep clients up to date with their trial’s status.
- Find and interview any witnesses.
- Investigate the opposing attorney’s statements and evidence chains.
- Handle legal research.
- Draw up all legal documents, summaries, pleadings, and necessary correspondence.
- Bill clients.
From time to time, I may take on additional tasks, but these are my main job details. I do work directly with my attorney. He handles the court room work, but without me he would never be prepared for trial. I’m simply that important to him.
View a list of Texas schools offering paralegal programs.