After high school, many people wonder whether they should try to jump straight into law school, become a paralegal, or take some time off to travel and figure things out.
Well, if you have a genuine interest in practicing law, there are many benefits to becoming a paralegal instead of diving head-first into a law degree or taking time off.
The question is, can you use a paralegal background as a stepping stone to becoming a full-time lawyer later down the road?
The short answer is yes, absolutely! There are many reasons why dipping your toe into the legal waters as a paralegal will ultimately benefit your career ambitions to become a lawyer. As such, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best benefits of taking this path. Read on below!
Try Before You Buy
Becoming a paralegal is a lot easier and less time-consuming than becoming a lawyer.
In every Canadian province except Ontario, there are no legal requirements for becoming a paralegal, which means you could theoretically become one without having to go to school at all.
But, in Ontario, the profession is officially recognized, which means you need a certain degree of education to become a paralegal. This can involve a four-year degree, a two-year diploma, or a one-year certificate, depending on the individual’s previous experience.
The time to become a paralegal is significantly shorter than the minimum seven-year educational process to becoming a lawyer. It is also a lot less expensive to undertake a paralegal degree compared to a law degree, meaning choosing to become a paralegal is both faster and cheaper than going into law school.
What this means is that you can see if you enjoy the legal field without spending an unnecessary amount of time and monetary investment. Being a paralegal will give you ample real-world experience in a law office, allowing you to see what an attorney does on a day-to-day basis and whether that is something you would like to pursue in the future.
Develop Your Legal Background
Becoming a paralegal first allows you to develop your legal background and will give you an advantage during law school.
While many of your fellow students in law school will be fresh out of high school, if you have taken the time to become a paralegal, you will have considerably more experience with the legal profession and be able to excel in areas they might struggle with. Law school is notoriously difficult and stressful, so any potential advantage you could give yourself would be well worth your time to make the process easier.
Maintain Income While Learning
Being able to maintain a decent level of income while you attend law school can be invaluable to many students, particularly those with dependents or bills to pay.
If you are a paralegal and decide to go to law school, you may be able to negotiate with your workplace to allow you to attend school and keep your current job. This will enable you to keep earning an income while also giving you continued experience in the legal field, all contributing to your continued education and career progression.
Having experience in the paralegal field always looks good on a resume as well.
When you graduate from law school and pass the bar, you will need to start looking for a job in a law firm. Being able to include previous experience at a law firm will be a good look for any potential applicant and will be a positive sign for any employer. The legal profession is an extremely competitive one, and you will likely be up against many other applicants for the same position. Any advantage is a good one to have when working as a lawyer.
In addition, if you have worked in a law firm previously as a paralegal, you will likely have a good rapport with your colleagues and employers. You can use this to your advantage when you are looking to move up into an attorney role, as your previous relationship will definitely help you secure a position compared to any other potential applicants.
Time In School
As mentioned above, becoming a paralegal is much faster than becoming a lawyer.
Instead of spending 7 years to become a lawyer and then realizing that it was the wrong career choice, you can spend a few years becoming a paralegal and get a sense of the industry. Some paralegal courses will be transferable to a law degree, meaning you won’t have to double up on time spent studying. Of course, if you know straight off the bat that you definitely want to be an attorney, spending time becoming a paralegal could mean you spend more time in school.
Cestar College offers one of the most comprehensive and well-respected paralegal courses in Toronto. Our highly practical course combines all the essential theoretical knowledge you need to succeed, taught by dedicated legal professors with placement in real-world legal settings to give you the experience you need. Our class sizes are kept small, so you get plenty of one-on-one time with your teachers to ensure you feel confident in your education. Contact us today and find out how we can help you achieve your goals.