How to Become a Paralegal

Complete Guide to Paralegal Schools and Degrees

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Paralegal Studies involve students in the legal system thoroughly, as they learn about the necessary processes and documentation. Paralegals go on to assist lawyers in their cases and various legal work. Below are highly-rated bachelor, associates, and certifications in paralegal studies.

Kaplan University — Kaplan University offers online degrees, AAS in Paralegal Studies and BS in Paralegal Studies. The courses in this program are comprehensive and the faculty members are practicing professionals in their fields. Additionally, the legal studies program helps students to prepare for law school and provides students with knowledge to use in business or government positions.
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Liberty University — Liberty University offers online programs for an AA and BS in Paralegal Studies. This program offers a unique mix of legal theory and practical skills. Courses include: Real Estate Law, Legal Research Methods, Litigation, Corporate and Property Law, International Law, Environment Law, Women and the Law, and The Paralegal Practicum.
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George Washington University — George Washington University offers an online MS in Paralegal Studies degree. The online program is identical to the traditional classroom-based format and provides students with the opportunity to earn the most prestigious paralegal credentials available from a top-tier university. Courses include: corporate law, litigation, legal research and writing, government and international law.
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Boston University — Boston University offers an online Paralegal Certificate that can be completed in 14 weeks. This program contains 7 courses designed for graduates and legal secretaries pursuing a career as a paralegal. Curriculum for this certificate focuses on the technological aspects as students will learn to use various software and online databases.
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Virginia College — Virginia College offers online degrees, AS in Paralegal Studies and BS in Paralegal Studies. This program prepares students for a career utilizing knowledge of legal office procedures, delivery of legal services, and legal research and writing. Courses include: The American Legal System, Legal Research and Writing, Administrative Law, and Civil Litigation.
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How to Become a Paralegal: The Unbiased and Straightforward Guide to Becoming a Paralegal

What is a paralegal?

What is a paralegal?

A paralegal is an individual that is not qualified as a lawyer, attorney or other similar legal official but performs substantial legal work in the office of an attorney, law office, governmental agency, corporation or other similar place of work. This can include duties like handling legal documents, compiling reports, applying the law to various events, liaising with legal officials and so on. However, paralegals are not allowed to actively practice law or advise members of the public in any way.

The paralegal industry and thus number of jobs has risen exponentially in recent years, which is why there are now numerous programs of study available for students to enroll in. There is a wide variety of qualifications available now so a little research beforehand is essential if you want to get ahead in the job market.

What different types of degree are there in the paralegal field?

At the present time, there is no requirement for entry into a basic paralegal job role. It is expected that all individuals looking to pursue a career in that field have a high school diploma or a GED at the very least but many are now looking to obtain qualifications to enhance their job prospects. Experience in the legal or business field is also preferred. As to how to become a paralegal, there are more and more job opportunities in the field but any advantage that you can get will undoubtedly boost your credentials so the following courses may help:

What kinds of financial aid are available for school offering paralegal degrees?

As with all other professional or academic qualifications, federal and state help is open to those looking into how to become a paralegal. There are also specific hardship funds and paralegal grants available from various community colleges, colleges and universities for those struggling. However, you may also want to look into professional funding from the following bodies:

National Federation of Paralegal Association (NFPA) This organization offers a range of paralegal grants and scholarships for those looking to undertake degree training to become a paralegal. Requirements vary depending on the nature of the grant but applications can be taken online.

American Institute for Paralegal Studies Offering four paralegal scholarships, the AIPS offers them annually and applications are taken online. Check out the qualification requirements because individuals may not qualify for all of them.

What colleges and universities offer paralegal qualifications?

Paralegal Courses and Programs

Until recently, very few colleges and universities offered any form of course that could help students who were looking to become a paralegal. Instead, it was taken for granted that they would learn on the job. This is not the case today and there are various schools offering learning options, both online and offline, a few of which are outlined below:

  • National Paralegal College: Bachelor in Legal Studies – http://nationalparalegal.edu/. This school offers solely online programs that are nationally accredited and geared towards individuals looking to qualify as a paralegal. The range of courses is good and all offer different benefits in addition to a common advantage in the field.
  • The Paralegal Institute: Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies – http://www.theparalegalinstitute.edu/. Administered solely online, students can follow this associate in paralegal studies course at their own pace. It provides hand on experience, problem solving instruction and modern theory as vital elements.
  • Broadview University, Utah: Bachelor of Science in Paralegal – http://www.broadviewuniversity.edu/programs/legal-science/paralegal.aspx. An incredibly comprehensive degree program, the four year bachelor degree in paralegal studies is designed to equip all students with the knowledge they need to be able to obtain one of the higher level jobs following graduation.
  • Keiser University: Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies – http://www.keiseruniversity.edu/paralegal-stud-AA.php. The Keiser University paralegal studies associate degree is geared towards teaching students analytical as well as technical skills that all professionals need as well as an understanding of legal process.
  • Emory University: Paralegal Certificate – http://cll.emory.edu/paralegal/. Emory University’s paralegal certificate is highly regarded in professional circles because an undergraduate degree in business, law or a related field is required. Mentoring is exceptional on this course and it will prepare you for life as a professional.
  • MTI College: Associate Degree in Paralegal – http://www.mticollege.edu/legal_aas.html. This paralegal associate degree is very traditional in that it provides legal knowledge for students looking to become a paralegal rather than hands on training. The focus is on achieving efficiency and independence in the workplace, although half of the course can be followed online.
  • ICDC College: Paralegal Certificate – http://icdccollege.edu/programs/paralegal-certificate/. The paralegal certificate from this college is designed to provide a basic but comprehensive introduction to the legal world, including research skills, compiling reports and drafts and interviewing clients.

What is the salary of someone with a paralegal qualification?

A qualified paralegal average salary is between $45,000 and $49,000 per year, depending on experience, location and the nature of the duties you will be asked to undertake. Trainee or newly qualified paralegals can expect to earn significantly less. However, those working for the government or in the Washington DC area could expect to earn in excess of $75,000.

What are common paralegal careers?

There are numerous careers that paralegals can enter into and most people who perform the role are not actually given the title of paralegal at all. Instead, they are referred to as being in one of the following job roles:

Legal Secretary The most common paralegal profession, a legal secretary prepares drafts, prepares motions, liaises with other legal processionals and is generally office based.

Law Clerk A law clerk is a paralegal that may assist in investigations, interview clients and prepare legal documentation for court or various cases that lawyers and attorneys have at any given time.

Insurance Claim Handler This job role requires the individual to be able to gather information and investigate claims made on various forms of insurance, applying the law as and when necessary to ensure that the right decision is rendered on individual claims.

Prosecution Caseworker Prosecution caseworkers are essentially paralegals that research individual cases to ensure that all evidence is gathered and accounted for. They also liaise with clients and other legal professionals.

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