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Career and Education Opportunities for Paralegals in Birmingham, Alabama

Paralegals can find many career and educational opportunities in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Currently, 380 people work as paralegals in Alabama. This is expected to grow by 5% to about 400 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for paralegals are expected to grow by about 13.9%. In general, paralegals assist lawyers or judges by researching or preparing legal documents.

Income for paralegals is about $15 hourly or $32,720 annually on average in Alabama. Nationally, their income is about $17 hourly or $37,130 annually. Compared with people working in the overall category of Representation, people working as paralegals in Alabama earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Representation nationally. Jobs in this field include: principal law clerk, legal clerk, and research attorney.

The Birmingham area is home to fifteen schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Birmingham where you can get a degree as a paralegal. Paralegals usually hold an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, so you can expect to spend about two years training to become a paralegal if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Paralegal

In general, paralegals assist lawyers or judges by researching or preparing legal documents. They also may meet with clients or assist lawyers and judges in court.

Every day, paralegals are expected to be able to see details at a very fine level of focus. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they read and understand documents and reports.

It is important for paralegals to ready real estate closing statements and help in closing process. They are often called upon to search for and study legal documents to investigate facts and law of cases, to establish causes of action and to ready cases. They also inspect and file pleadings, petitions and other documents relevant to court actions. They are sometimes expected to ready affidavits of documents and maintain document files and case correspondence. Somewhat less frequently, paralegals are also expected to serve copies of pleas to opposing counsel.

Paralegals sometimes are asked to store and maintain currency of legal volumes. And finally, they sometimes have to research and analyze law sources to ready drafts of briefs or arguments for review and use by attorney.

Like many other jobs, paralegals must be able to absorb the factors involved and a problem and provide a well thought out solution and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Birmingham include:

  • Lawyer. Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, and manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.
  • Legal Assistant. Assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents. Conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.
  • Title Examiner. Search real estate records, examine titles, or summarize pertinent legal or insurance details for a variety of purposes. May compile lists of mortgages, contracts, and other instruments pertaining to titles by searching public and private records for law firms, real estate agencies, or title insurance companies.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Paralegal Training

Samford University - Birmingham, AL

Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229-2240. Samford University is a small university located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,469 students and an admission rate of 89%. Samford University has a professional degree program in Law which graduated 159 students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama photo by Eric_in_SF

Birmingham is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. It has a population of over 228,798, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Birmingham, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Birmingham cost $187,300 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, one hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Birmingham, down from two hundred thirty-two the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Birmingham are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 24 minutes. More than 18.5% of Birmingham residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Birmingham is 12.5%, which is greater than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Birmingham residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Williams Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Westminister Presbyterian Church and West End Methodist Church are all churches located in Birmingham. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Birmingham is home to the Mineral Park Municipal Golf Course and the Cooper Green Golf Course as well as Avondale Mills Park and Smithfield Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Acipco Shopping Center, Altadena Square Shopping Center and Parkway East Huffman Shopping Center. Visitors to Birmingham can choose from Marriott Hotel Birmingham, Rime Garden Extended Stay Suites and Studioplus for temporary stays in the area.