WHY do you think Lawyers go to law school all those years? NO, Paralegals do NOT know as much as Attorneys! Previous-poster "Gail" obviously doesn't have any personal knowledge of the current status of the field of Law. Paralegals are NOT allowed to: solicit business, represent clients in Court, prepare contracts, and/or discuss clients in public (including friends and/or family). An ATTORNEY has to take final responsibility for preparation of documents from their office - or they can be prosecuted for "Unauthorized Practice of Law".
I can personally assure you that Lawyers are often treated "like crap" - so you won't get away from that by going into the field of Law.
In the USA, to become an Attorney, IF you go to school full-time:
1) Bachelor's degree - four years from a traditional college/university.
2) Study for LSAT. Take LSAT.
3) Law school - three MORE years.
4) Study for Bar Exam. Take Bar Exam in the state where you want to practice.
5) Pass the Character and Fitness Evaluation. Then you can practice Law.
6) You still have to take classes/seminars etc. to obtain CEUs to keep your license to practice Law. (You aren't done with school!)
Please be aware of what you are proposing on getting yourself into. Please do more research first. This is an expensive "hobby". Reminder: We are in a World-wide Recession. Consider career paths that have available JOBS.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Warning> Jobs in the field of Law are drying up fast!! This is just not a good field to invest time and/or money into. This is a SHRINKING, crumbling, and dying vocational field. Many reasons. Many people today (mistakenly) think they can do their own legal work, thanks to the Internet. Also, we simply already have way too many Legal Professionals - we have an absolute glut!! ("Legal Professionals" includes, but is not limited to: Attorneys/Lawyers, Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc)
There are no jobs in this vocational field. My family, coworkers, friends, acqaintances, etc. have been laid off left and right in this vocational field.
Regarding being a Paralegal: Employers (usually law firms) in the field of Law today want employees with BACHELORS degrees from traditional colleges/universities. Those "certificates" you see advertised aren't worth the paper they are printed on - they are generally scams. (I found this out the hard way.) So, no, Paralegals do NOT know as much as lawyers do - actually the focus in school is different - Lawyers train to learn the law - Paralegals train regarding how to fill out paperwork, draft documents, do research, how to ASSIST an Attorney. In the USA, Paralegals are to work under the supervision of a Lawyer - if they don't they can be prosecuted for "Unauthorized Practice of Law" - there are only a few exceptions to this, so beware...............
Cost of law school to be lawyer, approx $150,000+.
Be prepared to take on a LOT of debt.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Even if you finish law school, you won't be able to find a job when you are done. Since this vocational field is shrinking, many new attorneys/lawyers are, themselves, having to work "down" as Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc, to simply try to keep some of their bills paid <<this would be your competition. And the competition is fierce!!
Now... the law schools know this, but they won't tell you the truth >that the job market/economy is just SATURATED with way too many Legal Professionals. Instead the schools will feed you a fairytale and will lie to you. The root of the problem is we have too many law schools. We are in a recession, and the schools are fighting for their own survival - they will tell students anything to get to the students' money. (Which is why they won't tell you the truth about the job market for the field of Law.) And these schools continue to recruit and churn out even more graduates.............Remember: law schools are BUSINESSES - their top concern is making money for themselves.
If you don't believe me, then just do a SEARCH here on Yahoo Answers to see what other posters are saying about the current status of the field of Law. Call some local law firms - ask to speak to the Manager of Human Resources - ask them if they are hiring; ask them what they think about job availability in the field of Law..................
In the book "So You Want to be a Lawyer?" by Marianne Calabrese and Susanne Calabrese (ISBN 0-88391-136-1): "The United States has more lawyers than any other country in the world. About 38,000 students graduate >each year< from the 200+ law schools in the United States. The competition is very keen for jobs and clients." - Even Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (who served on the U.s. Supreme Court for more than 20 years) says there are too many lawyers. (9/14/2008)
Check out these websites: http://informeddecisionmaking.blogspot.comhttp://calicocat.com/2004/08/law-school-big-lie.htmlhttp://abajournal.com/news/triplt_bad_news_for_law_students_three_firms_aX_summer_associate_programs/http://abajournal.com/news/as_rio_tinto_saves_millions_other_corps_will_outsource_too_counsel_says/http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/02/03/dont-try-to-dodge-the-recession-with-grad-school/
(A link to a website does not constitute endorsement.)
If you want a job when you are done with your studies, consider and look into the fields of >>>Healthcare or Information Technology! I would stay focused on Healthcare - I wish I would have.
(This is based on my current knowledge, information, belief, and life experiences. This was intended as personal opinion, and not intended to be used as legal advice. Please be careful and do your research.)