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Absence of paralegals throws off international staffing metrics

No paralegals.  That’s the fact in large swathes of Latin American, Asian and European law departments outside the UK .  They have lawyers aplenty and secretaries galore, but not legal assistants of the kind common in US legal functions.  US law departments report a median of about one paralegal for every four lawyers. 

Without paralegals, the international law departments have higher numbers of lawyers, many of whom are lower paid than their stateside counterparts – even adjusting for purchasing power parity — and all of whom do tasks that could more effectively be delegated to a trained paralegal assistant.

During the next few years, the intermediate professional level that we think of as paralegals will become more common around the world.  We will see paralegal certification programs crop up overseas and eventually a certification for “international paralegal.”

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One response to “Absence of paralegals throws off international staffing metrics”

  1. Within Asian corporate legal departments my experience is a bit different. My colleagues in the Hong Kong Corporate Counsel Association all seem to have a few paralegals. In our energy company in Hong Kong we had four attorneys and three paralegals. In Manila it was 3 attorneys and 2 paralegals. I recall a public utility with 5:3 ratio and an infrastructure company acquiring business worldwide that had 3:1 ratio. Even in Hong Kong, with law firm’s billing their paralegal staff to us at rates equal to US$ 120 per hour, the business case for adding paralegal staff was obvious.