Why We Love It
$52,390Potential Avg. Salary*
Growing DemandJob Outlook
* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm for 23-2011 Paralegals and legal assistants 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
With a bachelor of science in paralegal studies, you’ll gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary for success as a paralegal. Modern law firms depend on paralegals to help research cases, reviewing case details, helping form defenses, and seeking former, related rulings. In a paralegal studies program, you’ll learn how to conduct legal research so that you can qualify for open paralegal positions.
What is a Degree in Paralegal Studies?
A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies can lead to one of two careers: students can either take the LSAT and enter graduate school to become lawyers after graduation, or they can seek work as paralegals. Some students do both, using their training as a paralegal to gain practical experience while they’re in law school. Whichever option you choose, a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies provides excellent preparation. You’ll gain the skills needed to do well on the LSAT and to work as a paralegal.
In a paralegal studies program, students study law, learn how to conduct legal research, and learn how to create legal paperwork like depositions. They’ll learn how to access historical cases in order to find outcomes that favor cases lawyers are considering or defending, and they’ll learn how to organize and catalog evidence and files. This enables them to effectively serve the lawyers that employ them, reducing costs for clients and helping to ensure arguments are sound and thorough.
What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Paralegal Studies?
- Legal Research and Writing
- Legal Ethics
- Torts and Personal Injury
- Contract Law
- Criminal Law
- Property Law
- Civil Litigation
- Drafting Contracts
What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Paralegal Studies?
Demand for paralegals has been increasing in recent years, and that trend is expected to continue into the coming decade. Paralegals allow law offices to take on more clients, charge lower fees, and provide better service, so talented and trained paralegals are in high demand. For this reason, individuals with bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies should be able to find work in the field after graduation with law firms that specialize in any type of law, including personal injury, defense, contracts, or immigration.
How Long does it take?
A bachelors in Paralegal Studies will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at OnlineDegree.com that could transfer to universities in the US.
Online Paralegal Studies Degree
Paralegal profession is currently formally recognized in many countries which increased the popularity of the paralegal studies programs. Although, paralegal work is less financially rewarding compared to working as a lawyer but it is still more rewarding than many other choices. Several universities offer completely online paralegal studies programs. There are also hybrid programs that include online and on-campus courses. Students are required to complete around 120 credit hours to earn their degree. Additionally, most programs require completing an internship or training period at an approved legal organization or company.
What Can You Do With a Paralegal Studies Degree?
Paralegal worker are employed by law firms or lawyers to perform legal tasks that are assigned to them by lawyers. Paralegal studies are very similar to law studies but may be less specialized and easier to complete. Paralegals are protected by law from professional liability as they should work to assist lawyers with their work. Paralegals are not allowed in most cases to offer legal services independently with few exceptions limited to settlements, court filings, legal research and other auxiliary legal services and should have a proof that they received instructions from a solicitor.
What does a paralegal studies student learn?
Paralegal courses are very similar to the courses offer to law students but may be simplified or shorter. In some cases, courses studied in paralegal studied can be transferred to a degree in law. The following list shows courses that are commonly offered in paralegal studies programs:
- Introduction to Law: this course introduces the foundations of laws including its sources and objectives. It introduces topics as the metalegal principles and philosophy of law.
- Paralegal Business Law: this course introduces the legal operations of corporates including the proper way to prepare audit letters, SEC filings, and other legal agreements.
- Paralegal Contract Law: this course provides the knowledge about various types of contracts and how they should be prepared. Students learn to draft contracts and to assist in cases involving an alleged breach of a contract.
- Paralegal Criminal Law
- Legal Writing and Terminology: legal writing is a critical knowledge to paralegals as they are usually responsible for drafting contracts, letters and other legal documents. Mistakes in such documents can lead to serious consequences.
- State and federal courts: this course introduces the structure of the judicial system including the court jurisdiction and procedures.
- Pleadings and discovery: this course introduces the work done by paralegals to prepare for a trial. Pleadings refer to the documents that are presented to the court to support the legal claims while discovery refers to the process of collecting information, facts and evidences. Discovery can be done in several forms as interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission and depositions.
- Legal ethics: the course introduces the principles of conduct that should be observed during work. Ethical principles include respect of client confidences, truthfulness in statements to others and professional independence.
- Other courses: paralegal family law, employment law, real estate law, bankruptcy law, immigration law and paralegal intellectual property law.
Now I have the paralegal degree…where can I work after graduating?
Paralegals can work in the same places where lawyers do. Their role is important in facilitating the legal work and ensuring the quality of the work. The following list shows several career options available for paralegal graduates:
- Law firms: this is the main and most common choice for paralegals.
- Corporate paralegals
- Real state and title insurance
- Public defender: the role of this job is to work with the government in the offices of state public defenders to protect the rights of accused people.
- Juridical paralegals: they help judges with legal research and draft aspects of court decisions.
- Government paralegals: they play a role in almost all departments of the government providing legal support.
Should I choose a paralegal studies degree?
Studying paralegal is a good choice if you cannot afford the cost or time to complete a law degree but still has the passion to this field. You will have the chance to work in the exciting world of law. You may participate in drafting business contracts, criminal cases or defending the rights of people. It is also a good choice a step towards starting your career in law. You need to keep in mind that you should have the following skills to succeed as a paralegal:
- Prioritizing: paralegal are usually overloaded with tasks and should be able to carefully and efficiently to fulfill all their duties. Additionally, you should never miss any of your assigned tasks as this legal work is usually critical and time sensitive.
- Organization: paralegal are involved in building the defense or claims and supporting this with the required documents. You should have unique organization to keep track of your duties.
- Communication skills: large part of paralegal work requires efficient communication skills. This is vital to complete tasks as writing statements for witnesses, or scheduling court appointments.
- Research skills: you will commonly need to look for evidences, document or do internet research as part of your paralegal work.
Best Jobs for Paralegal Studies Degrees
The obvious career for graduates of paralegal studies programs is as a paralegal, but there are many other careers that this degree program can lead to. Many paralegal studies graduates continue their education to earn law degrees and become layers, prosecutors, district attorneys, or judges. Some may also earn master’s degrees in library sciences and become librarians, utilizing their paralegal research skills.
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Get an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies First
Before enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program, you may want to consider first earning an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. An associate’s degree only requires two years of study, so you may be able to enter the workforce sooner and begin earning money and accruing professional experience. As a bonus, the credits you earn in an associate’s degree program may transfer to a bachelor’s degree program to reduce the number of courses required for graduation.