The ABA Journal online is reporting that the paralegal career is #13 in a list of 200 jobs by CareerCast.com. This ranking beats lawyers at #82 and judges at #53. CareerCast based their ratings on physical demands of the job, work environment, income, outlook and stress.
Even though my days are spent developing paper cuts from overexposure to file documents, and legally substantive work is scarce in my med mal defense firm, I have to agree with CareerCast's assessment, at least in its comparison of the paralegal career versus the lawyer career. The investment/benefits ratio seems pretty darn good for paralegals these days.
When I worked for the Boss back in Alabama, I loved to declare how being a paralegal encompassed all of the fun things about being a lawyer without all of the responsibility and stress. Of course, in a small law office, there was still a considerable amount of stress. I worried about file management, due dates, whether clients were paying, whether we were being efficient, etc. These days, the stress level is much lower, but there are noticeably fewer fun things to do.
Even so, a few associates toss me interesting and substantive work when they can, and unless I'm prepping a file for trial or running some emergency errand, I leave the office and my work worries behind me at 5 o'clock. As long as I meet my billable hours and perform my work competently, I fret not. I do not have to worry about meeting monetary goals to make bonus, when I work over 40 hours a week I am well-compensated, I have a great benefits package, paid time off, and decent co-workers.
Associates, on the other hand, do have to worry about monetary goals in order to meet bonus, constantly compete with each other on the road to partnership, spend countless hours over 40 working for no extra compensation, and must make work first in the list of adult priorities if for no other reason than to pay off massive student loans. Of course, the rewards are a much higher salary, flexible hours, and the ability to climb the ladder, become the boss, be the person other people work for. And for many if not most of them, the end is totally worth the means. To me, it all sounds great in theory. But when I see it in action on a day to day basis, I realize how much I enjoy the freedom of having a solid job I don't mind doing with enough time left over at the end of the day to maintain the kind of personal life I want.
I'm not sure why CareerCast listed judges so far down the list, though. I'm not so sure my job can compete with the hours, compensation, and other benefits of being a judge.
What do you think?