Legal Assistant Associate's Degree

Legal assistants should have an eye for detail and a knack for research to work in a fast-paced law office helping lawyers prepare for court cases. Read on to learn more about associate's degree programs in legal assisting as well as job duties, employment outlook and salary range for this field. Schools offering Paralegal degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Associate's Degree in Legal Assisting?

Associate's degree programs in legal assisting are similar to associate's degree programs in paralegal studies. This is a 2-year degree program that can be completed on a traditional college campus or over the Internet. Online programs commonly have the same requirements, curricula and faculty as on-campus programs; they are administered through virtual classroom platforms that feature discussion forums and video lectures. Some online programs also provide Internet-based orientation sessions and access to online tutoring.

Online OptionsAvailable; feature video lectures, forums and possibly online tutoring
Common CoursesLegal research, litigation, criminal justice administration and technical writing
Job DutiesWrite reports, prepare legal documents, research precedents and write contracts
CertificationCertified Legal Assistant or Certified Paralegal; certification is optional
Median Salary (2014)$48,350 (for legal assistants and paralegals)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)8% (for legal assistants and paralegals)

What Can I Learn?

Associate's degree programs in paralegal studies provide training in legal office procedures, research, writing and criminal justice. You can also expect to learn how to assist lawyers with legal procedures in specific areas of law. For example, you might find classes such as:

  • Civil litigation
  • Domestic litigation
  • Estates, wills and trusts
  • Criminal justice administration
  • Legal research
  • Technical and legal writing
  • Paralegalism
  • Information technology for law offices

What Is the Job Like?

Paralegals help lawyers with clerical work and litigation preparation. In this position, you might research case precedents, prepare legal documents, correspond with clients and other lawyers, write contracts or prepare tax forms. You could also manage filing systems, help prepare closing arguments, schedule corporate meetings, prepare for pleadings and write reports.

While you don't need to be certified to find a job, you could increase your chances of employment by earning a voluntary Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP) credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Possible employers include law offices, corporate legal departments or government agencies. Additionally, your employer might specialize in a particular area of law, such as personal injury, real estate, criminal law, employee compensation or immigration.

What's in Store for Me in the Job Market?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), legal assistants and paralegals earned a median annual salary of $48,350 as of May 2014; top-earning legal assistants and paralegals took home upwards of $77,830, while the lowest-paid earned $30,280 or less (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported a projected employment growth rate of 8% for legal assistants and paralegals between 2014 and 2024.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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