Imagine going from zero to a great career in just a few short months. Legal assistant and paralegal programs could be the way to do it. You'll be a working professional in the legal business, doing many of the things that a lawyer commonly does, but without the personal and financial commitment of spending years in law school. You can train at either a local campus or an online school.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Career Profile
Paralegals — also called legal assistants — help lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. They often perform complex research duties, compiling information and writing reports that lend credibility to a legal position. Find your school.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to increase 22 percent through 2016, that's much faster than the national average for all occupations. There will be an increase in the demand for paralegals with specific industry experience, such as real estate, bankruptcy, medical malpractice, and product liability. Career opportunities also exist in Federal, State, and local government agencies, consumer organizations, and the court systems.
Training, Certification and Degrees
There are about 1,000 colleges and universities, law schools, and proprietary schools that offer formal legal assistant training programs either online or on-campus; of those, approximately 260 programs are approved by the American Bar Association. Academic credentials for paralegals range from a certificate to a Master's degree.
With respect to certification, The National Association of Legal Assistants offers the Certified Legal Assistant, the Certified Paralegal, and the Advanced Paralegal Certification. In addition, the National Federation of Paralegal Association offers the Registered Paralegal certification to professionals who have a bachelor's degree, at least two years of experience, and can pass the examination test.
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Spotlight Schools Today: Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) is in Rochester, Minnesota. RCTC offers an Administrative Assistant with Legal Emphasis certificate program that includes coursework on the legal environment of business, communications, word processing skills and transcription skills. It's a one-year program. Read more about it.
The University of Baltimore is a state school in Baltimore, Maryland. They offer a Bachelor's Degree in Jurisprudence. While some students use this degree as their undergraduate degree before attending law school, many other students will take this degree and use it to start working in a variety of other fields, and often as a paralegal or legal assistant. Read more about this four-year degree option.
Tacoma Community College is a two-year community college in Tacoma, Washington. They offer both an Associate in Applied Science degree and a Paralegal Preferred Pro-Certificate to students interested in going after a job or career in the legal services field. The paralegal program can prepare graduates to enter into the legal services field in positions in law offices, corporate legal departments, court systems, public agencies, private investigation firms and independent paralegal services. Their Pro-certificate program is designed for individuals who already have either an associate's or a Bachelor's degree. Read more about this community college.