While attorneys usually take center stage in court houses and dramatic movies, their ability to defend, prosecute, or represent an array of clients would not be possible without the valuable support work of paralegals. Also known as legal assistants, paralegals are becoming even more essential in today's highly litigious environment.... Overburdened by the time and cost of handling growing numbers of cases and lawsuits, law firms of all kinds are delegating workloads to paralegals.
While seven out of 10* paralegals work for law firms, others work for corporate legal departments and government agencies. Depending on their workplace, a day in the life of a paralegal may be as busy and varied as the local court docket. Some days may be client-focused, as paralegals interview clients or prepare them for an upcoming court hearing. Other days may be heavily grounded in paperwork or research — such as digging up necessary legal codes, or organizing transcripts and records into electronic databases. Likewise, paralegals may often be called upon to file motions or draft pleadings on an attorney's behalf.
No matter how talented a paralegal is, her education is never quite finished in this field. Like doctors and teachers, paralegals are lifelong learners. There's always room to gain more specialized knowledge or get acquainted with changing regulations in a given sector. While most paralegal candidates usually have a minimum of an associate degree in paralegal studies, it may be advantageous to seek a higher degree or undergraduate certificate in the fast-evolving paralegal field. In some cases, paralegals who already have a bachelor degree may choose to supplement their education with an online paralegal studies certificate.
Depending on the program you choose, you might study topics like paralegal research, legal theory, legal software tools, and law-specific subject areas (like divorce, real estate, bankruptcy and tort law). Additionally, students may gain insights from practicing attorneys and program mentors. Graduates may go on to pursue law school or advance in their paralegal careers.
* The preceding information was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) online resource, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition," available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm
This Paralegal Certificate program includes 7 courses, offered through Boston University. more >
There are certain skills you need to begin a career as a Legal Secretary. The Penn Foster Career School Legal Secretary Program helps you learn them at home, quickly and conveniently! more >
Earn your Penn Foster Certificate of Advance Paralegal Application. more >
Earn your Paralegal Certificate in Real Estate, Wills, and Estates. Students interested in enrolling in this program should have an educational or work-related background in core paralegal concepts. more >
There are certain skills you need to begin a career as a Paralegal. The Penn Foster Career School Paralegal Program helps you learn them quickly and conveniently! You'll learn: more >
For learners who have already earned an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree , our Paralegal Certificate can help you move into a paralegal career quickly, with the knowledge and experience yo more >
The Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies offers a unique mix of legal theory and practical skills applications. more >