Every so often, I check the stats for this blog that I decided to leave up in case someone found something useful, and what mostly drives visits is the question, "Is being a paralegal a good career choice?"
That question makes me really sad. There's no other way to put it. The simple answer is, it depends on where you live and what kind of law firms are around you. If you live in New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Chicago, you have a better chance of having a fulfilling career as a paralegal, doing actual paralegal things, than you do if you live in a smaller area. My mistake was basing my decision on the Boston market for paralegals and trying to have a Boston-level career in a decidedly non-Boston area. It didn't happen. And it won't happen.
So before you get a paralegal degree, find out about your local paralegal association. Is it robust and thriving or just 30 beaten-down members? Will any of them tell you the truth about working for attorneys in the area?
What do the law firms in your area say about their paralegals? Can you talk to any of the attorneys about that?
What are you hoping to get out of this career change? Would you be happy doing half administrative work and half paralegal work, or do you need to be doing full-time paralegal work to feel fulfilled?
Again, my answers were based on the life of paralegals in Boston, before we moved away from Boston and into an area that didn't have giant law firms with paralegal career paths, which is why I am no longer a paralegal and let my RP designation expire last summer.