As professional responsibilities grow, so does the profession

According to “The [Bureau of Labor Statistics ] report says the legal sector will grow faster than the average for all jobs, but it will add the fewest jobs among professional occupations. Lawyers will account for 98,500 new jobs, while paralegals and assistants will account for 74,100 jobs—a 28 percent growth rate—as they begin taking on more tasks once handled by lawyers.”

As the article notes, not everyone is so optimistic for lawyers:

The outlook from ABA “recession czar” Allan Tanenbaum isn’t as bright, the newspaper says. Tanenbaum is chair of the ABA Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs. He told the Tennessean that the country’s economic problems have hit law grads particularly hard.

It’s not unusual to see law graduates working as department store clerks while handling pro bono cases to boost their resumes, he said. The median income for U.S. lawyers is about $75,000, far below the $150,000 starting salaries that so many new law students hope to earn, he added.

While there is no doubt that the slow economy has affected all parts of the legal team, I do side with the optimists at least to the extent that professional paralegals will  begin taking on more tasks once handled by lawyers, and therefore grow as a profession. This means the more professional paralegal become the more the profession itself will grow.

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