"Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Job Outlook." Posted by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. How to Become a Paralegal According to McClure, there are three types of academic credentials that someone can use to enter the paralegal … Becoming a paralegal can give you a fast entry into an amazing profession within the legal system. The exact job duties of a paralegal (sometimes called a “legal assistant”) can vary depending on where they’re employed and the area of law in which they work. However, it’s a personal choice by many paralegals to undertake some paralegal education. However, making the decision to become a paralegal does not mean that you can’t become a lawyer down the line. Corporate paralegals assist lawyers with the organization and planning of corporate transactions and business matters. Students can become professional paralegals after competing an associate’s degree in this field. To become a paralegal, you must graduate from high school. Making a good impression as an intern may lead to an offer of employment. There is no certification process for paralegals in Oklahoma. Below are descriptions of possible paralegal careers. You can enter the profession as an Administrative Assistant , Legal Secretary or Paralegal in a small firm and work under the supervision of a Lawyer, gaining knowledge, experience and rank over time. Keep in mind that more education will be required to become a lawyer. A bachelor’s degree in legal studies is not required by all employers, but it might help you gain an edge over the competition for entry-level roles. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind moving from routine and repetitious work to a heavy and stressful period of work, this might be a job that you’ll excel in. Paralegals investigate the facts of a case, collect documents from a variety of sources, research legal cases, write reports and legal documents, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, and assist attorneys during trials. Legal secretaries provide administrative support under the direction of the attorneys or senior paralegals with whom they work. Law school can be very difficult and very expensive, so if you are not sure if it’s the right move for you, finding work as a paralegal is a more cost-efficient investment while you decide. Paralegals assist lawyers with preparing for trials, hearings, and corporate meetings. Personal injury can take many forms, which makes it necessary for personal injury paralegals to possess a wide skill set. Find employment that provides on-the-job training at a firm, corporation, or organization. Many community colleges, technical schools, and universities offer specific degree programs to prepare for this career, including certificates as well as associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in paralegal and legal studies. The National Federation of Paralegals, the National Association of Legal Assistants, and the American Alliance of Paralegals all offer certification programs. Level 3 Award in Paralegal Practice – 3-4 months Level 3 Certificate in Paralegal Practice – 6-8 months Since most businesses require paralegals to have an associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies, you will need to complete your education. A litigation paralegal’s job begins with discovery and an investigation into the facts of a case. What Are Non-Lawyer Careers in a Law Firm? Now is a great time to take the next step and further your education in this growing field. Brand Ambassadors 2021/2022 - remote. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#st, {"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Why should I choose a bachelor's program instead of an associate's program? Research educational requirements According to the BLS, most paralegals or legal assistants have an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies. In the five largest US states by population, paralegal salaries are as follows: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.3. They work for law firms, corporations or government agencies. "Paralegal vs. Legal Assistant: Examining These Two Law Careers." "Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Pay." However, NALA also recognizes the following as adequate preparation to become a paralegal: A bachelor’s degree in any field, plus at least 6 months of paralegal training (in-house) At least 3 years of experience, supervised by an attorney, including at least 6 months of training as a paralegal (in-house) To read more about criminal law paralegals, see our Criminal Law Paralegal Career Guide. "Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Work Environment." Bachelor’s degree programs in paralegal studies and legal studies are both common. And juggling all of these duties for many cases at a time requires top-notch organizational skills., Generally, paralegals work at least 40 hours per week, but sometimes put in more time than that to meet deadlines. When deciding on a school, consider choosing one with an ABA-accredited paralegal program. A personal injury paralegal may deal with medical personnel and documents, so familiarity with administrative procedures used in the medical field will prove helpful. About 73% of paralegals work for law firms according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but governmental agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations also utilize these professionals.1. There are no nationally required education standards to work as a paralegal so education can be flexible. The terms “paralegal” and “legal assistant” used to be interchangeable, but that is slowly beginning to change within the industry. If a program isn't listed in the directory, then it's not ABA-approved., According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for the paralegal profession is pretty promising. The route you choose to go depends on your current role, educational status, and what your eventual goals are. Becoming a paralegal is not a ‘soft’ way into the legal industry and is fiercely competitive and takes time, but is a great alternative for those not wishing to go to university. Many employers prefer paralegal candidates with four-year degrees. In most states, there are no specific education requirements to become a paralegal. Certificate programs 2. Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Work Environment, Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Job Outlook. A paralegal career offers the opportunity to perform engrossing, meaningful work in a professional atmosphere. If you are interested in becoming a paralegal, this page will serve as a guide to inform you about what paralegals do, the kind of experience and schooling needed to become a paralegal, and the salary and outlook for the occupation. Yes. Most Paralegals have at least an Associate’s degree, but others may have a Bachelor’s degree. Pleadings, which the litigation paralegal may write and file, may also occur during this time as attorneys attempt to maneuver their clients into the most favorable positions. They can do many of the same tasks that an attorney can do, with the exception of accepting cases and setting fees, giving legal advice, and representing clients in court. Paralegals, or legal assistants, work in private law firms or in the public sector and perform support tasks for attorneys. But the BLS states that the most common educational path that leads to work as a paralegal is an Associate’s degree, which can be completed in as a few as 18 months. A legal assistant is another general term for a paralegal. Certification recognizes those paralegals that have mastered the national requirement of legal information and thus highly competent in their field. While some organizations will hire candidates with a two-year degree or certificate, the National Federation of Paralegals Association asserts that employers are increasingly requiring paralegals to possess a four-year degree and recommends that all aspiring paralegals work toward a bachelor’s degree. However, only individuals who have earned certification as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) can use the title of “legal assistant.”. You probably already know that you would need a specialized education in order to emerge as a successful professional. In addition to earning a degree or certificate in paralegal studies, paralegals may choose national certification, which is awarded by the national professional paralegal associations. It’s also possible, but increasingly rare, to obtain a position based on other work experience and on-the … The litigation paralegal often assists with the settlement of the case and an appeal, if necessary, which includes organizing and analyzing data, communicating with the necessary parties, and acting as a liaison with court officials. Many employers also provide tuition reimbursement or pay for classes and seminars. Should You Become a Paralegal or a Lawyer? A: An associate’s degree in Paralegal studies is typically a two year program. ABA-accredited curricula must meet strict criteria established by the ABA, and by choosing an ABA-approved program you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality education. Legal assistants often have more administrative roles, while paralegals perform more duties directly related to the law.. Step 1 Earn an Associates Degree The most important thing to do when trying to become a Paralegal is to gain an education. Most professional organizations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegals (NFP), recommend choosing a program that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Paralegals are a vital part of any legal team, and they take on interesting, important assignments that often vary on a daily basis. Paralegal salary can vary significantly by geographic area; those in large cities tend to make more, while those in states where paralegals are in high demand will also typically see higher salaries. Salary: £500; Location: London End: 18/06/2021; View job. Currently there are four national exams from which to s… Community colleges typically offer two-year paralegal programs while colleges and universities feature four-year programs. You can get into this job through: a university course; a college course; an apprenticeship; working towards this role; University. Communication skills are necessary since they serve as a liaison between clients, experts, vendors, and the parties of a litigation or legal transaction. Immigration paralegals generally assist attorneys and help clients through the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, a legal resident, or to help a US citizen go through the immigration process for adopting a child from abroad. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the paralegal job field is expected to grow at a rate of 15% through 2026.1 As law firms and other employers continue to cut budgets while the demand for legal services increases, employers are choosing to utilize paralegals whenever possible since paralegals can perform legal tasks at a lower cost per hour than attorneys. Why should I choose a bachelor's program instead of an associate's program? LinkedIn is also an effective tool for building your network and reaching out to potential employers so make sure your profile is up to date. Bankruptcy can involve many steps, including attending meetings between attorneys for both parties to take notes and to make records, drafting applications, petitions, and schedules, conducting real property searches to establish known assets, ordering appraisals, interviewing various individuals, and preparing for hearings. Aspiring paralegals who are still in school should take advantage of internship opportunities and the services of their school's career placement office. ","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"More employers are now requiring paralegals to hold a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies or legal studies. In addition to needing to put the high school diploma on your resume, you also need the skills that you learn in high school. If you’re interested in a career that is growing faster than average, or if you possess the necessary skills and are interested in the legal profession, a career as a paralegal may be for you. We interviewed paralegal leaders from across the country to provide professional career advice. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. State and federal government agencies, consumer organizations, public defenders’ or prosecutors’ offices, and community legal services programs all hire paralegals. directory of approved paralegal education programs, Paralegal vs. Legal Assistant: Examining These Two Law Careers. The path to becoming a paralegal can look very different from one person to the next. Their work, however, will specifically support the building of cases for or against accused criminals. If the case does not go to trial, the paralegal may assist in a settlement negotiation, which also involves research and analysis. A bachelors degree in paralegal studies (offered as a Bachelor of Science from most schools) is earned upon completion of 120 credit hours, generally taking students about four years. While paralegals perform attorney support tasks such as legal research and drafting legal documents, legal secretaries provide administrative support to attorneys and paralegals, focusing on day-to-day tasks such as answering phones, setting appointments, scheduling meetings, and maintaining automatic reminder systems. If you're interested in becoming a paralegal, you're not alone. Joining a local paralegal association can also lead to opportunities. More employers are now requiring paralegals to hold a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or legal studies. How to become a Paralegal While there are no mandatory educational requirements to become a Paralegal, it’s common for Paralegals to have some legal training. How to Become a Paralegal. Paralegals have a limited career growth in most organizations. However, overtime may be necessary. Law Offers Many Choices. We recommend the following steps to give you the best chance of success in your chosen career path: Paralegals generally must have some formal education to find employment. References:1. If you’re seeking a challenging and engaging position in a growing field, consider pursuing this career. "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What type of schedule does a paralegal generally work? ","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Making a good impression as an intern may lead to an offer of employment. They'll then earn a certificate in paralegal studies through another program. However, you will undergo a certificate training plus at least 6 months of in-house paralegal training. While not mandatory in most states, paralegal certification may provide an edge during the employment process. The typical educational requirements can be completed in as little as two years with an associate’s degree or even less with a paralegal certificate, and the starting salary is reasonable – with plenty of room for growth. Becoming a Paralegal in Nevada Paralegal Certification Process in Nevada. At the end of your degree program, you must then take a paralegal certificate exam to enter the profession. Are you interested in a Paralegal career? A bachelor's degree provides legal assistants with more job opportunities, and typically a higher starting salary. They may also assist attorneys who help US citizens complete the adoption process of children from abroad. Joining a local paralegal association can also lead to opportunities. There are several ways to become a paralegal: Certificate programs, two-year programs, and four-year programs can all lead to becoming a paralegal. Personal injury cases often lead to trial. They work along the…, As sworn officers with the New York State Police, New York State Troopers work to improve highway safety, detect and prevent terrorism, and prepare for…. However, overtime may be necessary. Basically, you become a paralegal with a bachelor’s degree in any course. How to become a paralegal. A criminal law paralegal supports the work of criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors. Some bankruptcies can be very complex and involve additional steps of varying degrees of complexity. a paralegal practice award, certificate, diploma or higher diploma; a legal secretary certificate or diploma; an award in legal studies; an HNC/HND or foundation degree in law, legal studies or paralegal practice; a law degree; Depending on the job you are applying for, these qualifications may not always be necessary. It's often recommended that people interested in the law but not decisively sure they want to go to law school work as a paralegal to gain experience in a legal field and to see if they like the work. Use this opportunity to figure out what aspects of the field you like and which aspects you don’t care for so that you can be more focused in your next job search and seek out a paralegal job that best suits you. Alison Monahan wrote about legal careers for The Balance Careers. You'll also need to complete a paralegal studies program in order to get a job, which will require a high school diploma or GED to enroll in. CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Paralegals may assist in deposing witnesses and collecting and cataloging facts in the case file. Accessed May 23, 2020. However, paralegals are prohibited from doing tasks that are considered “practicing law.” Providing legal advice, representing clients, accepting a client’s case, and determining a client’s fee are all prohibited tasks for paralegals and must be performed by a practicing attorney. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An individual that completes a paralegal studies program may be the only paralegal working for an attorney or may work alongside other paralegals in larger law firms or corporations. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. Something which also makes accuracy and attention to detail other key attributes for anyone looking … "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is the best way to find employment? Just about anyone can become a paralegal with the right education. Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests? These legal professionals can provide numerous legal services, although tasks that are considered practicing law, such as representing a client in court, are prohibited. In addition to working for law firms, paralegals often provide assistance to the legal and finance departments in large corporations as well as nonprofit and government organizations. A paralegal specializing in corporate law must have a thorough understanding of mergers and acquisitions, investments, employment laws, contract law, banking, finance, and securities. Now what? We’ve discussed the advantages and the disadvantages which may be associated with the job of a paralegal. If you enjoy investigating facts, performing research, writing, and working with people in a fast-paced atmosphere, chances are you may enjoy this career path. However, there are some specific skills that paralegals should possess. There are many colleges across the country that offer such courses. Also known as legal assistant, paralegal is one of the fastest growing career choices in the United States. 2018 NALA National Utilization and Compensation Report: https://www.nala.org/sites/default/files/files/users/2018%20Utilization%20%26%20Comp%20Summary%20of%20Findings.pdf3. Get paralegal certification through an accredited association. Client contact may be extensive or minimal depending on the organization for which the paralegal works. Certification is not required to become a paralegal in Nevada, but some law firms may require certain certifications to be eligible for positions with more responsibility. Certified paralegals are those who have passed such an exam and have been issued certification by a national paralegal association. Bachelor’s degree programs 4. "}}]}, As of May 2018, there were about 24,290 paralegals employed in Texas, with the Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas among the top ten metros with…, Border patrol agents (BPAs) are law enforcement officers who enforce federal laws when people or goods travel into the United States. Those interested in legal careers but who aren’t sure they want to go to law school are often good candidates for becoming paralegals. It's projected to grow by 12% between 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average projected growth of 5% for all occupations., In May 2019, the median annual wage for paralegals was $51,740, according to BLS. 10 Certificate Programs That Lead to High-Paying Jobs, The 8 Best Things About a Paralegal Career. Rasmussen College. There are at least 4 main types of formal paralegal education and training. Currently there are four national exams from which to select: The PACE offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) The PCC also offered by National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) She is a lawyer and founder of The Girl's Guide to Law School. © 2021 CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com, a Red Ventures Company. Corporate paralegals ensure that companies have all the necessary paperwork (filings with the Secretary of State, for instance) completed and filed and comply with all applicable federal and state laws. Aside from an excellent knowledge of law and the legal system, good research skills are essential for anyone looking to become a Paralegal. In addition, get certified. Of course, you could always go back to college and tackle law school...but becoming an attorney comes with its own set of drawbacks. In fact, the National Federation of Paralegals asserts that distance programs provide flexibility and a “viable alternative” for self-motivated individuals. Certified paralegals have passed a national exam and have been issued certification by a national paralegal association. Aspiring paralegals who are still in school should take advantage of internship opportunities and the services of their school’s career placement office. Opportunities also abound in the public sector. Major duties include interviewing clients, taking notes and creating detailed records, conducting legal research, acting as a liaison between interested parties, and ensuring proper documents are filed with the court in a timely manner. Becoming a Paralegal in Oklahoma Paralegal Certification Process in Oklahoma. Paralegals cannot give legal advice and always work under the supervision of an attorney. However, they're essential to the legal profession, as they assist attorneys in most aspects of case research and preparation. Even among firms that do not require a certificate, having one can make you more competitive. It’s also possible, but increasingly rare, to obtain a position based on other work experience and on-the-job training. Accessed May 23, 2020. Next article: Paralegal qualifications . A bachelor’s degree provides legal assistants with more job opportunities, and typically a higher starting salary. The route you choose to go depends on your current role, educational status, and what your eventual goals are. "What Paralegals and Legal Assistants Do." It is possible for an experienced paralegal working in a highly specialized or technical field to make a six-figure salary. Most paralegal positions also include numerous other benefits such as medical, dental, life, and disability insurance, paid time off, and company-matched 401(k) or IRA accounts. So you know you want to become a paralegal. Outside of courtroom preparation, legal assistants may prepare civil documents such as wills, contracts, mortgages, and separation agreements; interview witnesses and clients; and maintain communication with clients. Paralegal Job Description in Maryland. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. AW LAW LAW HOW TO BECOME A LAW LAW LAW PARALEGAL PARALEGAL EDUCATION • Complete a Paralegal program at a college to earn an associate's degree (1-2 years) The path to becoming a Paralegal Complete Paralegal certification … "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Are online programs a good alternative to a traditional program?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Yes. Many employers prefer paralegal candidates with four-year degrees. No specific education requirements to become a paralegal career offers the opportunity to perform engrossing meaningful. 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