Paralegal Associate's Degree Program

if you'd like to pursue a career in the legal field without having to pay for law school, you might want to consider a paralegal studies associate's degree program. This article walks you through some common topics in law and crime, and shows you what potential there is in a career as a paralegal. Schools offering Paralegal degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Classes Will I Take During a Paralegal Studies Associate's Degree Program?

Associate's degree courses in paralegal studies will train you in legal theory, writing and research techniques. Some classes might emphasize communication and customer relation methods, so that you can successfully interact with clients, lawyers and other legal office staff. You can also expect to take general education courses. You might study the following legal subjects:

  • Personal injury law
  • Professional ethics in law
  • Wills and trusts
  • Employment law
  • White-collar crimes
  • Legal writing and documentation
  • International business
  • Contract drafting

Course TopicsWills and trusts, international business, employment law, professional ethics in law, personal injury law
Program FormatOnline or on campus
Job DutiesInterviewing clients, performing legal research, organizing client records, participating in hearings, preparing legal correspondences
Median Salary (2014)$48,350 for paralegals and legal assistants*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Online Options?

You can find a variety of paralegal associate's degree programs online. These programs may require you to complete courses by using chat-based interactions or discussion forums. Lectures might be recorded live, so you can attend remotely or access the lecture videos at other times during the week. Technical requirements for an online paralegal program might include a cable or DSL Internet connection, sound cards, speakers and a CD-ROM drive.

What Will My Job Involve?

Paralegals, also called legal assistants, help lawyers by researching cases, composing legal documents and preparing basic legal defenses. As a paralegal, you could also be responsible for drafting contracts, fact-checking documents, performing clerical work, preparing tax returns or billing clients. Some paralegals specialize in a particular type of law, such as intellectual property, real estate, bankruptcy or family law. Your daily job duties might include the following:

  • Interviewing clients and defendants
  • Performing legal research
  • Presenting research findings
  • Organizing client records
  • Taking part in hearings
  • Preparing legal correspondences

What Is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an 8% projected rise in paralegal and legal assistant positions between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported a median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants of $48,350 as of May 2014. The top ten percent of paralegals made upwards of $77,830 per year, while the lowest-paid ten percent of professionals in this field made $30,280 or less annually.

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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