The US BLS, Office of Employment Projections forecasted an increase of more than 19% percent in the legal assistant career by 2022. The median annual wage for full-time paralegals is also expected to increase. Such a huge increase in the demand for this service is surely going to make headlines as more and more people choose to opt for a paralegal career.
A paralegal is an assistance job wherein a paralegal is hired by a lawyer, corporations, and even governments to perform substantive legal work. Through formal instruction and field experience, paralegals get enough knowledge and skills to handle legal issues under the oversight of a lawyer. Paralegals are prohibited from giving legal advice, however, which can only be given by an attorney. Much like lawyers, offices bill hourly for the work done on a file with a paralegal, only at a lower rate.
Seven out of ten paralegals have employment with law firms and the rest work for government agencies and corporate legal divisions, with a small number providing their services on a freelance basis to lawyers and companies. The U.S. Department of Labor states that the largest employers of paralegals inside the Federal Government are the Ministry of Justice, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Treasury.
1. Getting an education
Paralegals help attorneys with the delivery of legal services and perform an extensive scope of jobs like research, creating formal documents, planning for real estate closings, planning for court hearings and collecting information from relevant parties. Some education is required for this profession. Paralegal education can be obtained in traditional settings through universities by attending the classes and going through the conventional education program. In recent years, there has been a tremendous improvement in technology making it entirely possible to have to get paralegal education online. An online program can be convenient as it allows mid-career professionals to easily get an additional education without going to college again.
2. Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs make it easy to understand the essential skills for employment in this growing profession. Over 1,000 schools provide proper paralegal programs and much more than 600 different paralegal programs exist. About 260 paralegal programs are accepted with the American Bar Association, the governing organization for lawyers. Even though American Bar Association (ABA) approval is not required, graduation from courses which have it might improve possible job opportunities.
Prerequisites for admission to paralegal on-line schools is as varied as the number of classes currently available and could include a high school diploma, bachelor’s degree, or completion of a standardized test. Written coursework, reading assignments, e-mail, on-line chats and virtual lectures are examples of what a paralegal course may involve.
Online paralegal programs include 2-year affiliate’s degree programs, 4-year bachelor’s degree programs and certification programs. Some universities even provide master’s degree programs in subjects like paralegal studies, legal studies, and legal management. Online paralegal programs may be finished in as little as 6 months or may take up to 4 years, depending upon the course of instruction the student chooses.
3. Having a career as a paralegal
Considering the above-mentioned factors that paralegals are in demand and that it is now easier to get paralegal education through online programs, a career in paralegal is certainly worth it. If you get employed by a mid-sized or larger law firm, you have a great chance to move up the ladder. It could even become a stepping stone to firm partner after completing your regular law degree.
Positions like case officers and case managers are considered as highly lucrative positions in the paralegal industry. So if you’re looking for a new start or just want to increase your skills and income potential, a career as a paralegal may be an excellent opportunity.