There is more than one road to a position as a paralegal. The National Association of Legal Assistants say that formal educational training is not always required. With hands-on experience through apprenticeship under an experienced attorney can match the standing of a certificate.
Even though it may be possible to land a job as a paralegal without a degree, most individuals seeking this career will obtain an education in the field. These paralegal candidates may enroll in a certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree program. These can be obtained either on campus or online through many colleges and universities.
There are a number of colleges and universities that offer online education programs and distance learning options these days. Entry level paralegal positions can be landed with an associates or bachelor’s degree. Some master’s programs in paralegal studies can lead to legal administration positions. The responsibilities of a paralegal vary depending on the particular law firm you may be applying to.
An associate’s degree typically focuses more on clerical work and law office management rather than detailed legal knowledge. A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies will provide general education that covers history, mathematics, and English.
According to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, a bachelor’s degree is becoming the standard level of education required for a paralegal’s position. The federation has set a general curriculum requirement for a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies.
General education should cover: English Composition/Grammar Mathematics Logic/Philosophy Speech/Communication Earth or Natural Science Political Science/History Sociology Humanities, including Philosophy
Preferred electives include: Business Computer Science/Literacy Foreign Language Psychology Economics
The practices and theories that undergraduates should be exposed to are: Litigation/Civil Procedure, Legal Research and Writing, Real Property Transaction, Business and Corporate Law Wills, Trust and Estate Planning and Family Law Torts Contracts. Also, Advanced Legal Research and Writing, Advanced Litigation/Civil Procedure, Bankruptcy, Debtor/Creditor Rights, Administrative Law, Pension/Profit Sharing, Law Office Economics and Management, Tax Law, Labor Relations/Employment Law, and Intellectual Property are classes that would prove beneficial.
Most bachrlor’s degree programs in paralegal studies will include these or similar course offerings. Having a bachelor’s can provide the confidence and background necessary to apply at just about any law firm and apply for a paralegal position.