Paralegal School vs. Law School: Which One Is Right For Me?

Criminal Justice Articles

Paralegal School vs. Law School: Which One Is Right For Me?

The field of law is much wider than some may imagine. When one hears the word “legal”, they automatically think of lawyers being the sole individuals within the profession. However, there are many people in the background who support the lawyer and allow them to do their job well. No matter which legal career you choose to pursue, you will undoubtedly have a big role to play in the legal arena. The main way to pursue a career in the legal profession is to attend school to gain the proper knowledge and knowhow. The two most common schools which exist are paralegal schools and law schools. If you are contemplating both options, and need some insight into the pros and cons of each educational institution, read on to learn more about paralegal schools and law schools.

Paralegal Schools:  The Pros and Cons

Paralegals provide the sturdy backbone to the legal profession. These individuals are the ones who perform the research, draft the documents, file the papers with the court and are basically the right-hand man (or woman) to the lawyer. Back in the day, paralegals came about on their own through simple job experience. Today, paralegal schools are the most popular and appropriate way to go about working as a paralegal in the field of law.

There are many pros to attending paralegal school as opposed to law school. First, those who go to paralegal school will learn the ins and outs of the legal system. Frequently, criminal justice topics will be discussed at length, but other types of law are adequately represented as well. You will gain a thorough knowledge of the legal process and how best to carry out the legal tasks on a daily basis. Where law school provides students with a bit of this and that in many different areas, paralegal school often zeroes in on specific areas of law as designated by the student’s preference. 

Those who go to paralegal school rather than law school will also pay much less for their education.  For example, one may pay around $7,000 to $15,000 for paralegal school whereas law school can cost upwards of $75,000.  Lastly, those who choose paralegal school over law school will find that the time spent on their education is much less. Getting your paralegal certificate may take around one to two years, depending on if you go full-time or part-time, whereas law school is three years for full-time and four years for part-time.   

As for the cons of paralegal school when compared to law school, lawyers usually make more money than paralegals so your earning potential will be less. Also, you will often have to do more work than some lawyers even do, as you will be the background worker who prepares the documents and evidence for the cases, if working in criminal or civil law, or the one who prepares the closing documents, if working in real estate law. 

Law Schools:  The Pros and Cons

If you choose to attend law school and become a lawyer, you will be following a very dedicated path in this career. However, as with any profession, there will be both pros and cons. The pros of attending law school and ultimately becoming a lawyer include the following.  Those who attend law school will secure a good earning potential post-graduation. Although most law students will not find a six-figure job straight out of school and it may take quite a while to make good money practicing law, the earning potential is absolutely there. Also, when you attend law school you will gain top insight into the legal field, while learning about a variety of different legal areas as well as being able to focus on one or two distinct concentrations. 

As for the cons associated with attending law school as opposed to paralegal school, you will have to spend a lot more money on three years of law school than you will when you acquire your paralegal certificate. In addition, the work which you will have to do in law school is quite intense and more voluminous than the coursework in paralegal school. Lastly, law school is a much lengthier venture than paralegal school, usually at least two more years of school.

At the end of the day, both paralegals and lawyers are involved in an interesting job field with excellent pay potential and job security. Before deciding to become a paralegal or a lawyer, make sure that you know what lies ahead of you and which profession is most suitable to your lifestyle.

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