Paralegal Studies

Paralegal careers are constantly in demand, and even more so when the economy is down and attorney fees need to be cut. If you enjoy law and doing research while diving deep into the details, and are capable of performing mundane administrative duties as well, a paralegal career might be the profitable career for you.


A paralegal career is a professional career that can be started with less than a bachelor’s degree, yet provide the returns of a bachelor’s degree salary with some on-the-job experience. There are a few schools that offer a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, but more often you will see an associate degree for paralegal studies or a certificate for paralegal studies. Although licensing is not required, getting a paralegal license through the American Paralegal Association can improve your employability, and position you to be more eligible to work in lucrative firms.


Paralegal studies will include courses in legal communication, legal document preparation, court proceedings, legal research, personal injury, medical terminology, and likely a course in legal branches, such as corporate law, estate law, family law, criminal law, tax law, torts and others. There will also be standard English, grammar and writing courses. A certificate course will be very skill focused, and provide a faster route to employment; however, a paralegal with an associate degree, or even a bachelor degree, is more likely to find a higher-paying job in a corporate firm. Administrative, clerical or secretarial experience is also valuable on a paralegal resume, since most paralegal positions also require a great deal of administrative responsibility.


Paralegals are responsible for assisting the attorney with legal research and trial preparation. This could include drawing up and filing court documents and pleadings; collecting testimonies; medical records and investigatory material; calling businesses, clients and courts; researching applicable laws and statutes; reviewing depositions and testimonies and comparing them to the details of the case; creating and proofreading correspondence and documents with assistance from a legal secretary; filling out numerous forms; and possibly accompanying an attorney on a trial. Entry level paralegals are often expected to do paralegal work and administrative secretarial work. This would include creating, typing and mailing correspondence and filing legal documents rather than handing them to the legal secretary to type, mail and file, and may include a larger burden of phone calls to courts and for medical records.


Paralegals are legal professionals. Advancement is either in office hierarchy in larger firms, or in pay through your firm or other firms. Paralegals can work in law firms, corporations, federal and non-profit agencies. There are also paralegals that work for advocacy groups, politicians, or freelance from their home. The opportunity to go to law school is always there, and will be more affordable after you start your paralegal career.


Paralegal careers are for those who love law and research, and can competently handle administrative duties. Timeliness is essential in the legal world, and so is professionalism. If you’re intrigued with the law and have administrative capability, research a paralegal career – and you’ll quickly see that you can profit from your career as a paralegal.


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