Roughly three of four working paralegals are employed by law firms of widely varying size. Employer law firms range from a single lawyer to several hundred lawyers in several cities. While large law firms usually employ many paralegals, the vast majority of law firm paralegals work for law firms with less than ten lawyers.
Small Law Firms
New paralegals often choose small law firms because of the variety of experiences they offer; lawyers in such a firm handle matters in several different areas of the law. Of course, paralegals who do not wish to work in large cities may find a small law firm is their only choice for employment.
A paralegal in a small law firm may be expected to perform secretarial and clerical duties because of the lack of support staff. Salaries in smaller firms are usually lower than in larger firms and fewer employment benefits are offered. Some paralegals find that these disadvantages are outweighed by a less formal working environment, a greater variety of assignments, and greater flexibility in the employment relationship. A small firm is often the ideal employer for a beginning paralegal.
Because there is no universal agreement on the appropriate duties of a paralegal, you may find the expectations of an employer to be different from your own. The job of a paralegal is not determined by title; there are many “secretaries” who perform paralegal tasks on a regular basis and there are many “paralegals” who perform primarily secretarial duties. The key factors in evaluating any position should be whether you are using your skills to benefit the clients of the firm and satisfying your own personal career goals.