Paralegal & Legal Assisting DegreeLawyers, law firms and law enforcement agencies heavily rely upon the skills and services of paralegals to complete important legal tasks. These tasks may include preparing legal documents, conducting legal research, maintaining records, answering telephones, assisting attorneys as they prepare for trials, and interviewing potential court witnesses. Paralegals must have excellent communication, problem-solving, research, and organizational skills.
Entry-level paralegal jobs can be obtained with an associate's degree, but those with bachelor's degrees will have better job opportunities. People with bachelor's degrees in fields not related to paralegal studies can earn a professional certificate in paralegal studies to qualify them for many industry positions. Many colleges and universities are now offering college degree and certificate programs online.
Paralegal and legal studies associate degree programs introduce students to various topics relating to the law and legal process. Students will learn about preparing legal documents, maintaining communication with clients, preping for trail, and researching cases. Upon graduation, students will also be familiar with court procedures, legal terminology, ethics and laws. A high school diploma or GED is typically the only requirement for admission to a paralegal studies programs. Most paralegal studies and legal assisting programs are offered by community colleges and vocational schools.
Many paralegal associate programs provides students in class lectures, coursework and hands-on training in preparing legal documents. Some program offer internships and work-based learning opportunities with local law firms. When evaluating schools, you'll want to find out what benefits the school provides in addition to in class lectures and training. Some schools leave finding an intership up to each student, while others help students secure internships.
Most associate degree programs in paralegal studies or legal assisting offer courses that address the following topics:
- Legal terminology
- Criminal law
- Constitutional law
- Civil litigation
- Bankruptcy procedures
- Tort and personal injury
- Real property
- Legal research and writing
- Employment law
- Laws of evidence
- Immigration law
- Legal ethics
As with most bachelor degree programs, the bachelor in paralegal studies is a four-year degree program composed of general education, core courses and electives. General education typically include science, math, English, communication and foreign langauge classes. Core courses typically include legal ethics, civil litigation, legal writing and research and law. Once all general education and core courses have been completed, student are able to select electives which focus on specific professional areas of interest such as corporate law, constitution law, personal injury law, etc.
The Certified Paralegal Credential is recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as one of the highest levels of professional achievement within the field of paralegal studies. It is also recognized by several other bar associations and over 47 legal assistant organizations.
You can learn more about the paralegal certification through the NALA at http://www.nala.org/certification.aspx.
Below you can search our database of accredited online and campus-based degree and certificate programs in paralegal studies and legal assisting.
Paralegal & Legal Assisting Degrees and Programs
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