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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Paralegal Studies

Majors Overview December 15, 2013

Students will be taught about civil procedures, legal office management, and law research. Graduates have the chance to work under the guidance of an attorney in a law office, government agency, or corporate legal units.

A.A. Programs in Paralegal Studies

Students enrolled in Associate’s degree programs in paralegal studies are trained in legal procedures and law research. A variety of types of laws are explored by students – these include tax law, estate law, tort law, family law, and real estate law. They are imparted skills related to legal writing and familiarity with standard terminology used in the field. Students are also trained to provide assistance to lawyers to ready for trials through the organization of forms, briefing of clients and planning of meetings. They are also taught how to prepare settlement packages and create contracts.

Admission criteria typically require applicants for admission to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Those who graduate from the program are not allowed to practice law and must perform their work in satisfaction of the legalities as defined by their state; their work must usually be supervised by a lawyer.

Coursework

It usually takes two years to complete paralegal associate’s degree programs, generally comprising 60-70 units of study. Students are often given the opportunity to participate in internships whereby they can get hands-on experience in a legal setting. Students can expect to become adept at meeting deadlines, analyzing laws and drafting legal documents. General education coursework is usually augmented with classes in topic areas such as:

•Legal office management
•Legal procedures
•U.S. politics
•Law analysis
•Law research
•Criminal justice
•Real estate law
•Tort law
•Litigation

Career Choices

Those who successfully complete the program can pursue entry-level jobs working as a paralegal in corporate legal divisions or law offices. They may also seek occupations in government settings, including work within the U.S. treasury department or the justice system and aim for job titles such as:

•Litigation paralegal
•Probate legal assistant
•Real estate paralegal

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

After they successfully graduate from paralegal studies degree programs, graduates are typically ready to earn certification, offered by NALA, the National Association of Legal Assistants, through the passage of a voluntary certification examination that would lead to the Certified Legal Assistant or Certified Paralegal designation. Enrolling in continuing education courses would enable paralegals to stay abreast of changes in judicial procedures and laws through the course of their careers. Candidates interested in advanced job opportunities can seek enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs in pre-law, criminal justice or paralegal studies.

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