A paralegal is another name for a legal assistant. The National Association of Legal Assistants recorded more than six hundred education and training programs in the United States. There is a variety of courses available in a number of colleges and universities. Paralegal studies can be completed at community colleges, four-year colleges or by using online institutions. Programs can take as little as six months to more than five years if you are pursuing a master’s degree.
A Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) is normally the goal of a many of these training programs. Such educational programs would qualify students for an entry level positions in a law facility such as a file clerk or legal secretary.
There are associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees available under paralegal studies. Many more colleges, universities, and online institutions offer paralegal bachelor’s and associate’s degrees than master’s degree programs. A master’s degree in paralegal studies is a little more difficult to come by.
A two year degree, an associates program, in paralegal studies would probably include courses such as family law, torts, legal writing, case law research, civil rights and other legal subjects. Even though the program is only two years long, it can equip a student with a basic understanding of the business of law.
There is a more in depth experience provided in a bachelor’s degree program in paralegal studies. More liberal arts an more legal topics will be covered. The courses in a bachelor’s degree program in paralegal studies covers basic civil law in greater depth than that of an associate’s degree, and it allows for more elective classes.
Paralegals have held positions in law offices since the nineteen sixties. There are a number of responsibilities that a paralegal may be required to handle, and these might be just as many as an attorney would have to handle. The educational requirements for paralegals have grown along with the demands and complexity of the position. Many law firms will no longer accept only associate’s degrees, and only hire those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
It is important to remember that with many online degree programs, bachelor’s degrees can be obtained in less than three years, and an associate’s degree might be obtained in less than two years. If you are interested in pursuing an education in the paralegal field, consult some of the law firms in your area about what their requirements are.