If you are planning to enter the legal world as a court reporter or a paralegal, you may be wondering what the future holds. With some professions flourishing while others become obsolete, it certainly makes sense to find out more about the forecast for your chosen job!
Court reporters transcribe dialogues during legal trials, hearings, and other proceedings wherein each and every word needs to be recorded. Some court reporters work on closed captioning thereby enabling hearing-impaired people to read what is being spoken. In order to become a court reporter, you need to complete an accredited court reporting program. Associate’s degrees as well as certificates are offered by schools across the US. After earning your degree, most states will likely require you to obtain a license before beginning work. The annual median salary of court reporters is USD 48,160, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the top earners took home over USD 90,530, the lowest-paid court reporters earned less than USD 24,790. Salaries tend to vary by state, with San Francisco and San Diego offering the most generous compensation in the US. Court reporters may also supplement their main income by doing freelance work.
The future outlook for court reporters is average – the number of jobs is set to increase, but not dramatically. Between 2012 and 2022, approximately 2,000 new jobs will be added – which is a modest increase of 10 percent. Outside the legal field, the professional captioning services of court reporters will be increasingly in demand since many television programs and broadcasts need to be mandatorily closed captioned due to government regulations. Additionally, those who have Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) expertise can also assist hearing-impaired clients during important interactions such as meetings, appointments, etc. On the other hand, growth may be impeded by the use of digital audio recording technology, which has replaced court reporters in some states and is being considered by others. A number of courts, however, still prefer court reporters to record the proceedings.
Paralegals are also an integral part of the legal universe. They assist lawyers in their preparation for hearings, handling a range of tasks such as research, report writing, case investigation, and documentation. If you want to be a paralegal, you will need to complete an associate’s degree program in paralegal studies. Alternatively, those who have a bachelor’s degree in another subject can earn a paralegal certificate. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which puts paralegals and legal assistants in the same category, their annual median wage is USD 46,990. The top earners in this group made more than USD 75,410 whereas the lowest-paid earned less than USD 29,420. Salaries vary based on a number of factors. For example, those who work with larger law firms or have more years of experience command higher salaries. The state you work in also has an impact; the best compensation for paralegals is offered by Alaska, California, Oregon, and New Jersey.
Employment for paralegals is projected to grow at a rate of 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than most other professions. This will mean roughly 46,200 new jobs, although competition will be tough because of the popularity of the profession. In a bid to lower costs, law firms will continue to hire more paralegals instead of lawyers since the former can fulfil many of the latter’s duties. The growing paralegal requirements of corporate entities, many of which are choosing to build in-house legal capabilities, will also drive growth in employment. Paralegals with qualifications, work experience, and good computer and database management skills will have an advantage in the job market.