How Paralegal Studies Can Get You Into The Law Field

Paralegal Studies

The American Bar Association defines a paralegal as “a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible”.  Paralegal studies will prepare you to perform many legal tasks in firms or agencies.

Because there are so many areas within the law field, there are just as many areas for paralegals to find employment. Engaging in paralegal studies has advantages that can help you get into the law field.

You may choose to apply for the LSAT with intentions of attending Law School. You may also want to work for legal firms or private attorneys. Or, you may want to seek employment in non-law agencies that require the services of a paralegal or legal assistant. Paralegal studies will also help prepare you for the LSAT.


Law School

Passing the LSAT exam to be admitted into law school is still necessary, although many states are considering changing this requirement. Studying for and becoming a paralegal is like on the job training and preparation for the exam. You not only learn what you need in the classroom, but you also see your studies implemented into real world law situations.

You will also need good letters of recommendation. Working with attorneys as a paralegal can help you obtain those solid reference letters that may set you apart from other applicants who are seeking to enter law school.

In some cases, law firms offer their paralegals tuition reimbursement. Meaning, they will help you pay for law school if you dedicate a certain number of years of employment to them once you finish. Because law school can be expensive, an opportunity like this is a huge advantage. Even having exam fees paid for by an employer can be helpful.

Working as a paralegal can prepare you for the demands of the college class requirements. You will already know how to research factual and non-factual information, you will be able to prepare for mock trials, and you will be able to report your findings professionally, as you have seen your employer do in many situations.

You will already know how to use the Law Library, which is totally different from a regular library. Knowing how to research in this environment before law school will give you a great head start.

The knowledge you have gained from assisting an attorney, will benefit you in applying for and succeeding in law school.

Law Firms

Attorneys are busy preparing for trial. They spend many hours working on legal cases. Using a paralegal as an assistant provides attorneys with much needed help.

Paralegals can conduct research needed for a case. They can complete semi-legal tasks that require the services of an attorney but can be done by a paralegal. Some of these tasks include coordinating property tax appeals, investigate facts of a case, interview people involved with a case, proofread documents and ensure filing deadlines are met.

Rather than hiring more lawyers to complete these jobs, it is more cost-effective to hire paralegals who can do the exact same work as an attorney.

As a paralegal, you can do more than assist an attorney. You can also work in a legal office staff member position.

Legal Office Staff

As a paralegal, the office duties you can perform are wide. One day you may be researching and collecting data for a case, while the next day you may have to draft legal documents. You may spend most of one day answering calls and interviewing potential clients. The next day may be spent researching police records or preparing travel arrangements for your employer.

Studying and receiving a certificate in paralegal studies shows an attorney you will be able to handle all the needs of his or her office.

Working for an attorney is not the only working environment in which paralegals are valuable.

Non-Law Firm Agencies

Paralegals are needed in many organizations, not just law firms. Many private businesses and corporations seek the skills of paralegals. A corporate paralegal will assist the law team hired by the company. Paralegals in this field can expect to prepare documents and contracts.

They may also work to change the legal status of companies, from incorporated to limited liability companies and partnerships. Knowing each state’s incorporation rules is a must. Paralegal studies will prepare you for this.

Paralegals are also needed in the insurance business. They use their skills as a claims paralegal or in defense in claims cases.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14 percent of paralegals are employed in local, state and federal government agencies. These may include the Social Security Administration, Courts, Department of Justice, and the Military.

Choosing the Right Paralegal Studies Program

Not all paralegal studies programs are the same. Some offer better courses that can potentially offer higher marketability when you enter the law field. Meaning, having certain knowledge can give your resume an edge over your competition.

Paralegal studies courses that can help you stand out to potential employers include learning legal terminology for the area of law you are applying. If you are seeking a job in corporate law, it is important you know the legal terms associated with corporations. If you are in criminal law, knowing related terminology is key.

Courses you want to take include learning interviewing techniques and skills. You will need to be taught how to research law data, both in a law library and using specialized computer systems.

Other courses should focus on identifying, analyzing and completing legal documents. One of the most important areas of study should focus on the ethics of working in the law fields.

An ethics course will teach you how to react professionally in many situations that are known to happen in the legal environment.You also learn about the importance of confidentiality between law workers and client.

Having the benefit of the knowledge you learn in classes and going on to receive your paralegal degree or certificate, will give you an advantage when entering the law field.




Career Options with a Legal Degree

Career Options With A Legal Degree - SBBCollege

Becoming a lawyer or a judge is not the only way to work in the legal field. These jobs may be the first areas that come to mind but they are just two of the numerous professional areas in which you can seek work after obtaining your legal degree.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are jobs in the legal field that are increasing faster than average. Jobs such as paralegals and legal assistants are expected to grow by fifteen percent between now and 2026. These are professional fields you can enter with just an Associate Degree.

Whether you get your legal degree in paralegal studies or the criminal justice field, you will study a wide range of coursework that can help prepare you for varied careers.

Below you will find more information on specific careers for those with a legal degree.


Working with Juveniles

If you have a desire to work with children and adolescents, you have several areas in which you can focus within the legal industry.

Youth Advocacy can allow you to work for positive changes on behalf of the youth in your community. You can do this through outreach, education and helping make policy changes. Youth advocates typically have a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

The main goal of a Youth Advocate is to act in the best interest of the youth in which you are working with to make sure their rights and needs are being met.

Also, with a legal degree in Criminal Justice, you can work directly with juveniles on probation or use your experience as a juvenile court counselor. But you don’t always need a bachelor’s degree to work with juveniles. You can work in juvenile correctional facilities with an Associates Degree.

You will also be prepared to serve as a case manager for youth in the legal system. Because of the rise in drug and alcohol issues in America, your criminal justice degree can prepare to work in treatment centers as well as in social services.

You may even choose to work with juvenile attorneys, or work with attorney in other areas.


Working with Attorneys

As a paralegal or legal assistant, you will be able to support attorneys and law firms in many ways. You may seek a job as a legal office receptionist, one of the most important jobs in the field. It is the legal office receptionist who is the first point of contact for the firm.

With an Associate degree, you will be prepared to perform all necessary legal job duties required to succeed in the profession.

If legal researching sounds more appealing, you will be prepared to perform those duties as well. Legal researchers work closely with lawyers, preparing for court cases. You will research former cases, verdicts, laws and any other information that can improve your attorney’s chances during trial.

Your legal degree prepares you to discuss cases using the right legal terminology. You will also know how to distinguish between legal documents your attorney uses.

Rather than working directly with attorneys in a firm, some graduates choose to work inside the court system.


Working with Court Systems

As a Court Clerk, you can have the chance to assist officers of the court, such as judges, other clerks and attorneys. You could seek a position in a county court, district court, all the way up to the Supreme Court. Duties may be to handle various legal documents, issue licenses or permits, and record court appearances.

Other ways to work in the court system is with a legal degree in Criminal Justice. You could become a bailiff assistant or a bail bonds assistant.

A bail bond is a legal contract between the court, the bail bond agent and a co-signer who is willing to put up a percentage of money for someone who has been arrested to be released from jail. As an assistant, you will take care of all the administrative tasks this process involves.

A bailiff assistant handles court schedules, docket records and respond to other requests by court officials, which can range from locating judges to assisting with DNA checkpoints.

If working in these specific areas of the legal system does not sound appealing, that’s okay. There are many other areas you can seek work. These can be working with the community, private agencies, public or governmental agencies.


Working with the Community

Social service agencies work with the community at large. If you are interested in serving the health of the community and the people in your community, this may be an area for you to investigate further. Social service agencies can be non-profit organizations, social workers, and even private agencies working toward the good of the community.

There are close to two million social service workers in America, and rising. Meaning, there is an increase in your chances of landing a job in this field, assisting professionals such as counselors, case managers, treatment centers and probation offices.

Aside from human services, jobs exist in other private and public agencies too.


Private and Public Agency Opportunities with a Legal Degree

Seeking a job in corporations, insurance companies, and government agencies on the local, state and federal levels may interest you.

With a criminal justice degree, whether associate’s or bachelor’s, you can search for jobs working at private security companies, colleges and universities, airports or even working security detail for an individual.

You will be educated in criminal behaviors, victimology and the law, you may want to put your skills to use in agencies that seek to rehabilitate criminals or work with domestic violence victims. From advocacy to apprehending violators, you have a broad range of jobs to consider.

As a paralegal, you can choose to work in large private law firms or become an entrepreneur and start your own paralegal consulting business. Your Associate degree prepares you for all job possibilities in these sectors.

A legal degree is not a guarantee of your dream job right away. However, it does teach you and better equip you to reach that goal.