Paralegal Studies Degree Options - Video
Training in Paralegal Studies can result in an Associate in Applied Science degree, a diploma or a certification in Paralegal Studies. Most students can complete a Paralegal Studies program in one to two years. Upon completion, students will have the skills needed to provide research and assistant services to lawyers in a law firm or legal office setting.
Description of Degree
Students who are interested in working in the legal industry as a paralegal or legal assistant will greatly benefit from a formal program. Paralegal Studies programs provide theoretical concepts and practical skills in legal communication, ethics and research. A paralegal certificate or Associate in Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies can be earned at many two-year colleges and technical schools.
Skills Obtained and Typical Courses
A Paralegal Studies program provides students with skills in legal research, documentation and presentation. Students will gain an understanding of legal terminologies and will also learn how to use computer applications that aid in legal research and litigation. Quite frequently, courses in Paralegal Studies are taught by lawyers or judges in order to provide students with real-life experiences and information. Courses specific to a Paralegal Studies program can include:
- Legal Writing and Research
- Family Law
- Civil and Criminal Litigation
- Wills and Estates
- Bankruptcy, Real Estate and Contracts
- and Legal Terminology
Career Options and Occupational Outlook
The majority of students with a degree in Paralegal Studies go on to become a paralegal, legal secretary or assistant. About 70 percent of all paralegals or legal assistants can be found working within a law firm. Other options for employment can include government organizations or a business' legal department. Paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers prepare for trials, hearings, closing or other such meetings and events. Fact investigation, gathering legal articles and decisions, preparation of written reports and preparing legal arguments are just some of a paralegal's specific job duties. They can also be charged with organizing and tracking case documents and files for lawyers. Even though a paralegal's duties can be broad, there are a few specific duties that by law, they cannot do. These include giving legal advice, presenting court cases or setting legal fees.
As a graduate of a Paralegal Studies program, students are able to work in a variety of legal areas including personal injury, criminal, corporate and labor law. Paralegals are able to specialize in certain areas of law and as those laws become more complex, it is beneficial for paralegals and legal secretaries to become more specialized. This may require additional certification or training. It can be advantageous for students to earn certification from professional organizations, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants. The NALA offers a Certified Legal Assistant and a Certified Paralegal credential.