Students will be trained to research litigation matters, prepare legal paperwork, follow transactional proceedings, and help attorneys in courtroom preparation. Work can take place in several legal settings, such as law offices, government organizations, or legal departments.
Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree Program in Paralegal Studies
Students enrolled in paralegal studies programs are trained in communicating effectively in a legal setting. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students can expect to become adept at researching cases, organizing legal files, assisting in trials, obtaining affidavits and understanding legal ethics. Students are trained to deal with legal documents and contracts used in tax returns, trust accounts, estate planning, marital separation and real estate. Students gain familiarity with how a law office setting works, including maintenance of legal records and organizing of meetings.
Coursework in this two-year program includes classes pertinent to a variety of subsets of law. Mock trial experiences are offered in some programs thereby facilitating the opportunity to students to learn how to assist with real-life courtroom proceedings. Internship opportunities are also offered as part of the coursework in order to impart hands-on experience. General education coursework is augmented by classes in topic areas such as:
•Wills and trusts
•Law office procedures
Job and Wage Outlook
Graduates can seek entry-level jobs in the legal departments of business firms, in addition to government agencies and law offices. They could also seek jobs in areas pertinent to a particular practice, such as tax law, family court, property law, mediation or family law. A job growth of 28% has been predicted for legal assistants and paralegals during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In 2010, legal assistants and paralegals took home an average annual wage of $46,680 (BLS).
Continuing Education Choices
Graduates can seek advancement in their careers by pursuing a paralegal or legal assistant bachelor’s degree program. Those interested in becoming legal experts or lawyers can earn an undergraduate pre-law degree. Students are offered instruction in these programs as preparation for enrollment in law school in pursuit of a master’s degree in a specific legal discipline or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.