21st Century Paralegal
The paralegal field has evolved over the years. The paralegal profession is one of the fastest growing fields today and can be a very demanding career. Paralegals have changed in what their responsibilities are and how they are classified. Employment opportunities for paralegals are expected to grow faster than projected than the average for all occupations through 2014. Paralegals have learned more about the law, and now can do more than just be a legal secretary, as they may have done in years past. They also have more room for advancement within their employment, such as becoming a legal administrator.
Today’s paralegals have more responsibilities now than what they did back in the 1960’s. In 1967, the ABA (American Bar Association) issued an opinion that detailed what legal work non-lawyers were able to do, and legal secretaries were encouraged to learn more about the law. In 1971, the ABA adopted the term “legal assistant.” In 1986, the ABA officially defined the term: a paralegal is a person qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible (National Association of Legal Assistants, 1986). However, state legislatures, courts, and bar associations have all instituted definitions of “paralegal.” All definitions describe a professional group working under the direct supervision of an attorney and acknowledge that the terms “paralegal” and “legal assistant” are used synonymously. Many paralegals today have degrees in various stages. A paralegal could have certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, post-bachelor degrees, and possibly even graduate degrees.
“The training paralegals get today is extensive, and many paralegal programs focus...