Those interested in a career as a paralegal will have many job options available to them. However, one area of interest that is quickly growing is paralegal services for medical malpractice attorneys. These attorneys rely on paralegal professionals on a day-to-day basis and have become vital to many practices. According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job has above average expected growth and will continue to be in high demand.
Duties and Responsibilities
The paralegal employed in a busy medical malpractice firm will have many job duties and responsibilities. This can include but is not limited to research, documentation, preparation of documents and evidence collection. Research not only pertains to laws and statutes but can also include important facts related to the case. For example, medical related research on transvaginal mesh devices for a case involving personal injury. Attending court hearings and working closely with attorneys is a must.
In order to find employment as a paralegal for a medical malpractice attorney, formal training is almost always required. There are both two year and four year paralegal study programs that are available with the two year option being the most common. Those that already possess a degree in another field may only have to complete a certificate program. On-the-job training is almost always not an option for those that do not already have a college degree. Certification is not mandatory for paralegal studies but may assist the graduate when seeking employment.
Paralegal Program Information
There are many educational programs for those interested in this exciting career. Options can include entirely online programs, classroom learning or a combination of both. In addition, accelerated degree programs may be available. Accelerated degree programs typically allow the learner to obtain an associate's degree in 18 months, rather than two years. Most paralegal programs do not require selective admissions criteria. This means that the individual will not have to apply directly to the program as well as the school of choice.
Specializing in Medical Malpractice
Many states do not allow attorneys nor paralegals to specialize within a specific area of practice. Therefore, experience is often considered. Those that wish to work for medical malpractice attorneys should attempt to gain as much experience as possible. Some schools may even require or offer internships, this may serve as a great opportunity to get a foot-in-the door. Whenever possible, the student may wish to consider obtaining the internship with a medical malpractice attorney for this reason.
Salary for a Medical Malpractice Paralegal
The salary of a paralegal employed by medical malpractice attorneys can differ significantly. The median annual wage for all paralegal professionals was $46,900 as of May 2012 with the highest earners compensated over $75,000. Factors that can affect salary include the particular firm, location and the education of the paralegal. Those with a bachelor's degree or higher or who have voluntarily obtained certification may earn more than those who have not. Experience can also play a crucial role in salary.