Paralegal Studies

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Study Programs and Employment Prospects for Paralegal Studies
Paralegal Studies for Every Soon-to-be Paralegal

The American Bar Association defines a paralegal as an individual who is qualified through education, work experience or training; to assist lawyers, law offices, corporations or Government agencies in performing specifically directed legal duties, for which an attorney is ultimately responsible. This broad definition focuses on three main points of reference with regard to the career:
• Specialized paralegal studies through formal education programs.
• A number of years experience working under the supervision of an attorney.
• Performance of substantive non-clerical legal work for an organization.
The term paralegal is synonymous
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Students who complete their studies successfully are able to work in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies where they practice different facets of law including litigation, criminal law, family law, personal injury, immigration, employee benefits, corporate law, labor laws, real estate or bankruptcy. In large organizations with multiple departments, paralegals may concentrate and specialize in one area. However, in small firms, they usually perform generalized work according to the terms of their employment.
Paralegal Studies Programs
According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, roughly 600 paralegal studies programs are available in the US, which are offered by different learning institutions such as Community Colleges, Business Colleges, private and public Universities and proprietary institutions, in different formats and time frames. Hence, individuals from diverse backgrounds may join the profession at whatever level they deem appropriate. Legal assistant programs in the US include:
Associate Degree
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Students earn the degree after successful completion of sixty to seventy semester units. The units usually consist of combined paralegal and general studies. Before you choose this program, it is advisable to consider whether you might wish to progress with a four-year program at another college. Make inquiries about the transferability of credits from this course to other ones.
Bachelors Degree Programs
Many four-year universities and colleges offer baccalaureate degrees in paralegal studies. Students can major in legal assistant programs or concentrate on related studies. Bachelor’s degree programs usually run for 120-130 semester units, with 30-60 units dedicated to paralegal courses directly.
Certificate Programs
Certificate programs usually run 30-60 semester units, and include general education and paralegal coursework. Certificate programs are mainly suited for individuals with associate or baccalaureate degrees already.
Masters Degree Programs
The masters degree program in paralegal studies is fairly new and only available in select institutions of higher learning. Apart from the advanced degree, you may also opt for advanced programs in related fields such as legal administration or legal studies from major colleges or universities.
Employment Prospects For Specialists In Paralegal
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