Before a lawyer is qualified to practice law and achieve licensure, it is necessary to finish a four-year bachelor’s degree program and a three-year law school program. Associate of Arts (A.A.) degrees are not relevant to the occupation. Legal assistants and paralegals are allowed to finish two-year programs, such as an Associate of Arts in legal Studies.
A.A. Programs in Legal Studies
Community colleges are among the schools that most commonly offer Associate’s degree programs in legal studies that are devised to help graduates seek entry-level jobs as paralegals and legal assistants. Students can expect to become adept at conducting legal research and providing assistance to licensed attorneys.
Graduates of a degree program in law gain knowledge about the basic concepts of U.S. law, legal procedures and civil litigation. They can also expect to be taught the modes of preparing basic legal documents, writing legal correspondence, organizing legal assignments, demonstrating knowledge of legal ethics and using correct legal terminology.
Admission criteria related to an associate’s degree program in legal studies typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Applicants should also have strong writing skills and an avid interest in research apart from paying keen attention to detail.
Coursework in an Associate’s degree programs in legal studies includes classes providing an introduction to legal theory and law in addition to courses that impart specific training and instruction in legal procedures and writing, including:
•Law office management
•Introduction to the U.S. legal system
•Legal interview techniques
•Legal research and writing
Job and Wage Outlook
Legal assistants and paralegals are mainly hired by local, state and federal government agencies apart from legal services agencies. In 2009, there were over 246,000 of these professionals employed in the country (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). During that year, these professionals earned an average annual wage of $46,980.
Paralegals and legal assistants may not need certification to be able to get employed; however, these professionals would benefit from certifications offered in the field by organizations such as the American Alliance of Paralegals and the National Association of Legal Assistants. Completion of an educational program and passage of a certifying examination are requirements for certification.