What are Paralegal Studies?
A paralegal, in essence, is a legal assistant. That being said, paralegals are not permitted to practice law; the occupation is not allowed to offer legal advice nor represent clients in the court of law. Although paralegals are stripped of the responsibilities of a qualified legal professional, the occupation is essential to assist attorneys in writing briefs, investigating facts within a case, constructing closing, organizing schedules and interviewing prospective clients.
Paralegal studies are programs aimed to bolster an individual’s ability to deliver the aforementioned roles. The program of paralegal studies does not; however, limit an individual to only work in a law office—a number of paralegals who undertake various paralegal studies will work in government or corporate settings.
Paralegal studies refer to the suggested educational programs that an individual should undertake to become a paralegal. Although there are no distinct certification requirements to assume a paralegal’s duties, it is recommended that a prospective paralegal engage and successfully complete various paralegal studies.
By completing such programs or courses, a prospective candidate will increase his or her chances of landing a job as a paralegal within a law firm, government office or corporate setting. Furthermore, those individuals who satisfy these paralegal studies will most likely earn higher wages than individuals who simply obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Suggested Routes to become a Paralegal:
An individual, in the most basic of routes, can become a paralegal by obtaining an associate’s degree from an accredited academic institution. Paralegal studies in these types of environments, such as colleges, will require roughly 60 credit hours. A number of institutions offer paralegal studies in intense learning environments where a student can complete advanced training in a year to 15 months.
Some colleges or universities in the United States offer paralegal studies in the form of specialized paralegal programs; these programs will award an individual, upon successful completion, with a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. Although these programs are not widespread, they are commonly found in those academic institutions, which offer legal programs. The basic curriculum will entail roughly 120 credit hours of study to obtain a bachelor’s degree in this specific field.
The most common form of paralegal studies is found in post-baccalaureate certification programs. These types of paralegal studies require the prospective student to obtain a bachelor’s degree—there are no requirements for a specific major.
The curriculum in these types of bachelors studies programs require roughly 30 credit hours, which may be completed in as little as a few weeks to a few months. The majority of schools who offer these types of paralegal studies will include accelerated or night programs to offer students certification as quickly as possible.
The role of a paralegal entails extensive background work; because of this function, the majority of paralegal studies will focus on research, litigation and legal writing. The majority of university programs will also include classes that focus on a specific legal field, such as corporate business practice or real estate practice, to allow specialization for the individual looking to become a paralegal.