A paralegal is a person who has been professionally educated in the field of legal studies and has completed an associates degree program in paralegal studies. Although you don’t have to get a bachelors or masters degree, both of these can help with getting ahead of your competition. What can you do with a paralegal degree? Paralegals do not always pursue further education in law and, therefore, become assistants to lawyers. They work in various types of law, which are elaborated on later in this article. If you want to see justice but not quite ready for law school, paralegal gives you a taste of what being a lawyer is like.
Paralegal Degree Programs
If you are looking to study law but are not interested in spending nearly a decade traveling from university to university in order to gain a professional and accredited law degree, then you should consider earning a paralegal degree. There are many ABA approved paralegal programs including the NYC college of technology. If your high school offers extra history or social studies classes with legal components, it would be a wise decision to take them before you graduate. These classes can also show colleges your interest which pushes them to offer you more scholarships. Consult your guidance counselor for more information on how you can best prepare for further education in law. Here are a few schools/colleges we have found:
Penn Foster College offers undergraduate students a unique online learning experience while earning their associates degree in paralegal studies. While participating in this online degree program, students learn how to prep legal documents and other paperwork to assist lawyers in various fields of law. They are also taught how to perform in-depth legal research in order to save lawyers time so that they are able to tend more to their clients’ needs. The paralegal associates degree program also prepares students with the knowledge necessary to take and pass a certification test by the National Association of Legal Assistants and get a certificate.
Nova Southeastern University provides students with the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies, with classes on and off campus to help you best form your education around your busy schedule. Students spend their time learning the ins and outs of becoming a paralegal in today’s world of law. Not long before they complete the requirements to earn their paralegal studies degree, students are also required to submit a paralegal portfolio in order to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained throughout their academic career. Nova’s paralegal courses typically take place in the evenings on the main campus in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, FL.
Montgomery College, with its main campus located in Rockville, MD, gives students the chance to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. This program is an excellent way for students to gain knowledge in research, writing, and interviewing on a legal scale. It also prepares them for careers assisting lawyers in the development of new ideas for their law firms, including but not limited to procedures and techniques used to carry out those new procedures. Courses may include topics along the lines of learning legal writing techniques and procedures, American government, and other legal studies.
Careers with a Paralegal Degree
While you are attending a reputable university to study law, you should begin considering various career paths available to people who graduate with a paralegal degree. This section contains just a handful of examples of what you need to get started on your search for the career that best suits you.
Jobs You Can Get with a Paralegal Degree
A bankruptcy paralegal often spends most of his or her time obtaining and putting together the necessary paperwork for a client to claim bankruptcy. He or she also may be responsible for drafting adversarial pleadings if there is question over the legality of a client’s debt and scheduling any necessary appointments and hearings for the lawyer and client. Bankruptcy paralegals typically possess at least a paralegal associates degree with excellent organizational and written and verbal communication skills.
Bankruptcy paralegals may earn around $47,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for public or private law firms.
When looking at jobs you can get with a paralegal degree, a corporate paralegal for example often writes up contracts for lawyers and their clients, making sure that all rules and regulations are followed in regard to corporate law. He or she may also organize other legal documents such as shareholder adjustments or agreements and stock plans. A corporate paralegal possesses at least an associates degree in paralegal studies and specializes in corporate law. Talents include outstanding organizational skills, great verbal and written communication skills, and especially the ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
Corporate paralegals may earn around $43,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for public or private law firms.
Employment Labor Law Paralegal
An employment labor law paralegal is responsible for compiling reports to address issues and disputes in the workplace in regard to such situations as the hiring process, sexual harassment, and workers compensation issues. He or she organizes information collected and assists lawyers in preparing for cases to rectify the situations at hand. Employment labor law paralegals have at least an associates degree in paralegal studies and are incredibly organized and talented researchers with excellent verbal and written communication skills.
Employment labor law paralegals may start at around $40,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for public or private law firms.
Family Law Paralegal
A family law paralegal spends his or her time drawing up legal documents such as pleadings after consulting with emotionally distraught clients. During client consultations, a family law paralegal is responsible for creating an individual file for each client as well as distributing the family lawyer’s payment options and other pertinent information on client-lawyer interactions among other responsibilities. Family law paralegals have at least an associates degree in paralegal studies with outstanding communication and organizational skills.
Family law paralegals may earn around $44,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for public or private law firms.
An immigration paralegal assists a lawyer in granting legal citizenship, whether clients are seeking temporary or permanent status, by conducting research to stay up-to-date with immigration laws, helping clients obtain visas, and more. Immigration paralegals possess extensive knowledge of immigration laws, including those related to international adoption, and have a minimum of an associates degree in paralegal studies. They are skilled at multitasking, and most offices prefer to hire paralegals who are at least bilingual.
Immigration paralegals may earn around $42,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for public or private law firms.
A litigation paralegal works with a litigation lawyer, assisting with cases in which one person or company is suing another person or company. Like most paralegals, a litigation paralegal assists with drawing up pleadings and other necessary legal documents as well as conducting research for cases. Litigation paralegals possess, at minimum, an associates degree in paralegal studies and excellent communication and research skills.
Litigation paralegals may earn around $46,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for public or private law firms.
Companies that Hire People with Paralegal Degrees
Still wondering, “What jobs can I do with a paralegal degree?” or “how does this effect my career path?” Law firms around the world look for people with paralegal degrees to help improve their offices and allow lawyers to spend more time working one-on-one with clients. A brief list of examples of places that hire people with paralegal degrees is located below.
Allstate – locations across the US; hires positions for paralegals, law clerks, litigation paralegals, etc.
State of Minnesota Board of Public Defense – hires positions for legal office assistants, etc.
ESPN – hires positions for paralegal specialists, paralegals, etc.
Paramount Pictures – headquarters in Hollywood, CA; hires positions for various legal assistants
Lynch, Brewer, Hoffman & Fink, LLP – located in Boston, MA; hires positions for paralegals, etc.
For an associates degree, focusing on the field of paralegal studies pays off and is worth it, both financially and personally. With a job as a paralegal, you are helping people help people financially cope with very distressing situations. If you are interested in working side-by-side with lawyers on cases of all sorts, consider the opportunity to earn a degree in paralegal studies today. If you are weighing Law school vs time to finish school, paralegal studies is the perfect fit.