Those interested in paralegal office studies should look into a bachelor’s degree program in Paralegal Studies. Paralegals help lawyers prepare for trials, hearings, and real estate closings; they also manage law offices.
B.S. Programs in Paralegal Studies
Students enrolled in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in Paralegal Studies can expect to become adept at completing legal research, in addition to assisting with legal office administrative tasks and preparation of briefs. Students gain proficiency in numerous types of software employed in legal offices. They benefit from training in office practices, as some paralegals involve themselves in managing law offices, wherein they have to set appointments and coordinate the work of other employees. Prospective paralegals are also involved in the utilization of legal sources, identification of ethical issues, development of interpersonal skills, handling of accounts and application of adaptive behavior to specific situations.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.
Coursework for paralegal students focuses on legal office procedures, communications, research skills and the principles of litigation. Hands-on training in legal office management and administration is gained by students through capstone projects and internship opportunities. Apart from general education classes, coursework may also include subject areas such as:
Paralegals can seek entry-level careers in government offices, corporate legal departments and private law firms. Varying with their area of interest, paralegals can seek positions such as:
Job and Wage Outlook
A job growth rate of 18% has been predicted for paralegals and legal assistants over the 2010-2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In 2012, this group took home an average annual wage of $46,990.
Certification and Continuing Education Choices
Master’s degrees and graduate certificates in Paralegal Studies are offered by a few schools. A core curriculum of legal courses is completed by enrolled students, who can opt for specialization in the field of study of their choosing, such as international law or government law. Some paralegals may pursue continued education through completion of law school.
Voluntary certification may benefit these professionals by enhancing their employment opportunities; (BLS). The Certified Paralegal designation is offered to paralegals by the National Association of Legal Assistants; this can be accomplished through meeting education and experience requirements, and passage of all five sections of the credentialing examination. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. offers certification for qualified paralegals.