Prospective paralegals may choose to pursue one of several educational paths that are available both traditionally and online. Paralegal programs offered at community colleges award associate's degrees. Students may choose to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in paralegal studies. You may also join this field with a certificate in paralegal studies, if you have a bachelor's degree in another subject. The certificate only takes a few months to complete and consist of thorough training in the necessary coursework.
Students may have the chance to study the following areas in a paralegal program:
Legal research and writing
Legal applications of computers
Litigation and trial technology
Intellectual property law
Internships are also an integral part of these programs. Students may gain practical work experience by working at one of the many law organizations or firms such as private law firms, legal aid organizations, corporate legal departments, government agencies, and the offices of public defenders and attorney generals. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies generally offer a combination of paralegal training and other academic subjects. Occasionally employers may hire graduates with no formal education or training background in paralegal studies. In such cases employees are given rigorous on-the-job training.
What Do Paralegals Do?
They are required to assist lawyers in trials by writing reports, organizing, and presenting information, etc. Sometimes they may have to obtain formal statements that can be utilized as evidence. They conduct legal research on related regulations, legal articles and law, and investigate facts related to a case. They are responsible for investigating the facts of a case and storing that information in databases, and drafting correspondence and other documents, such as contracts and mortgages. Law firms may also involve paralegals with tasks such as tax preparation. Graduates hired by personal-injury law firms often possess a good understanding of nursing and health administration. Some paralegals may become corporate or litigation paralegals. The former are involved with preparing shareholder agreements, employee contracts, stock-option plans, and annual financial reports of companies; and the latter document evidence received from clients and conduct research that is indispensable at trials.
Accomplished paralegals are in high demand these days, and their employment outlook is quite bright. From 2010 to 2020, their employment is expected to increase by 18%. This is almost as fast as the average for all occupations. Their median annual wage was $46,680 in May 2010. Many paralegals also choose to enroll in law schools.