Paralegals Leading the Boomer Pack?

The Maine Biz Daily reported today that Maine will soon be among those states with a shortage in workers as seemingly an overwhelming number of its residents are running with the Baby Boomer pack.

Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College cites data from a U.S. Census Bureau study that will be released later this year that found a number of Maine industries with significant portions of their workforce middle aged or older. According to Pitt-Catsouphes, 64% of Maine’s legal workers, including its lawyers and legal assistants, are aged 45 or older.  This will undoubtedly cause a shortage of lawyers and paralegals in Maine’s workforce.

The paralegal field has always been an attractive field for career transitioners.  A few years ago, UCLA reported that students in its paralegal program averaged 36 years of age.  Surveys from the Los Angeles Paralegal Association indicated that the average age of paralegal in Los Angeles was about 38.

A recent survey of corporate law department paralegals from Estrin LegalEd, about to be published in a few short weeks, shows that the majority of in-house paralegals are 93% women from the age of 45-50.  While people are working longer and opting for longer careers, Pitt-Catsouphes claims that the reason is that people want to stay in the workforce longer is to stay in touch with the business community for as long as they can.

Who is she kidding?  Has she priced the cost of a condo in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or Chicago recently?  Certainly people are staying in the workforce longer simply because they lack enough funds to retire.  If the figures are correct, that paralegals are 36-38 when they enter this field and are between 45-50 years of age now, and they may have taken a pay cut in order to enter a new field, retirement doesn’t seem like a decision for too many folks in the near future. With starting salaries at around $36k, who saved enough money to retire?

Let’s face facts.  Until paralegals-who command an hourly billable rate of anywhere from $125.00 to $300.00+ per hour-are structured in more of a pay-for-performance-compensation program and less on strictly number of years in the field, huge numbers of retiring paralegals in the near future may be just a fantasy.  Any thoughts?