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What Is A Paralegal?

A paralegal assists attorneys with many important tasks pertaining to a case.  While not usually a glamorous job, being a paralegal is important and essential in the legal field.  The American Bar Association defines a paralegal, or a legal assistant, as a “person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”  Some of the duties a paralegal performs are researching, writing and preparing legal documents for an attorney, interviewing witnesses, filing paperwork, and many other tasks.  However, a paralegal cannot give legal advice to any clients, nor can they charge a fee.  Starting down the path to become a paralegal is not difficult.  The first step is to look into paralegal education programs and the requirements for a paralegal degree.

Where can I get a Paralegal Degree?

There are many community colleges and four-year universities that offer a paralegal degree.  They all have a specific paralegal education program to help you work towards achieving your paralegal degree.  The most common route taken is enrolling in a community college and getting an associate degree.  The other option is to enroll in a four-year university and enter their paralegal education program.  Though not required for employment, checking if the program you’re interested in is an American Bar Association approved program is always a good idea.  This way, potential employers know you have passed certain ABA standards and have met the minimal ABA requirements to successfully work as a paralegal.  You can check with the ABA to find out if the paralegal degree program you’re interested in is an ABA approved program.  Keep in mind that many of the programs also offer online courses so you have the option to do distant learning.  There are many search options to find a top online paralegal program.

What courses do I have to take to earn a Paralegal Degree?

The courses you have to take are similar to pre-law.  You will have take courses in ethics, administrative law, torts, legal research, criminal law, criminal procedure, family law, estate planning, immigration law, patents, trademarks, copyright, and various general classes.  You should check to see if the program offers assistance in getting internships.  Also, look into the school’s career center to find out if you get career counseling and job placement assistance.

How do I pay for my Paralegal Degree?

There are many opportunities for scholarships, grants and loans.  Scholarships and grants are the best way to finance your paralegal degree since you don’t have to pay them back.  But they may come with other requirements; such as, having to work for a certain firm, having to work in public service, having to work in a certain location, or having to work for a certain amount years for the organization that gave you the scholarship.  Getting a loan is the other option.  Private loans are now offered by the government and many private banks.  Education loans have lower interest rates and generous repayment terms.  There are plenty of financial aid options to choose from to help you get your paralegal degree.

What can I expect after receiving my Paralegal Degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegal positions are expected to increase by 28% over the next several years.  So having a paralegal degree will help you get one of those jobs.  The salaries for a paralegal can vary greatly: location, law firm, education, and experience all factor in salary.  By getting a paralegal degree you get the education and experience, through internships and class case studies, to put yourself at the front of the employment line.  The average salary for a paralegal is around $46,000.  The range runs from $29,000 to $75,000.  Another way to enhance your paralegal degree is joining a paralegal association and applying for a paralegal certificate.  Having a paralegal certificate is not mandatory for a job, but employers look favorably towards those that have one.  In addition to the years you put into getting your paralegal degree, getting a paralegal certificate shows you are dedicated to your profession, want to continue your education, and show mastery of skills and knowledge required to do your job.  Getting your paralegal degree is the first and an important step in entering the profession.  Also, if you decide being an attorney is really what you want, then having the degree will only help you as you apply to law school.


Questions / Answers

Q:A paralegal degree online will cover what different subjects. Can you please name a few?

A:Paralegal degrees are designed to equip students with the skills needed to become a paralegal assistant. The program will entail a number of subjects that focus on skill development and knowledge building. Some of these subjects include the following: legal terminology, corporate law, report writing, drafting documents, and legal research methodologies.

Q:Paralegal degree programs will allow me to become a legal assistant?

A:Yes, with a paralegal degree you can qualify as a paralegal assistant in a law firm. Many law firms and law experts require the services of these professionals. However, the type of job you can get will depend upon your specialization area and level of degree. You can work in corporate law offices, family law offices, employment law offices, and more.

Q:Paralegal degrees offered online are less expensive. Can you tell me how?

A:One of the major benefits of online education is low costs. With campus based education, students have to cover a wide range of costs such as travelling expenditure and textbook costs. In online programs, there are no such costs involved. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection. You can easily study from your home and at any time of the day, according to your convenience.

Q:If I get a degree in paralegal, will the income be worthwhile?

A:Paralegals have been ranked as the one of the top jobs in the law industry nowadays. If you plan on becoming one, you must have a degree or a certification in this field. The median income level of paralegals has been estimated to be $46,680 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This field is expected to grow in the coming years.

Q:Basically what is a paralegal assistant and what does a paralegal do?

A:A paralegal is a legal assistant that provides supportive services to lawyers and attorneys. These are trained professionals who can perform a number of office related tasks and legal tasks such as the following: drafting documents, trial preparation, managing office administrative tasks, scheduling appointments, communicating with clients, assisting lawyers in trials and courtrooms.

Q:What jobs can you get with a paralegal degree?

A:With a paralegal qualification, you can seek work as a legal assistant in law firms. The type of firm you can join will depend upon your specialization area and level of degree. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals careers are expected to grow at a fast rate in the coming years. These professionals are in high demand in the legal industry.

Q:How much money does a paralegal make in a year?

A:A paralegal makes a median income of $46,680 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for paralegals is likely to increase in the coming years. Students interested in joining the legal industry and prepare for a paralegal career by earning a certification or degree in this specific field.

Q:How much education to become a paralegal?

A:The educational and training requirements to become a professional paralegal may vary slightly from state to state. Usually it is recommended that you have acquired a college degree in this specific field. Paralegal studies can be pursued at associate and bachelor level. You can also opt for a certificate program in the area and prep for a career as a paralegal.

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