Paralegals are not just secretaries who perform administrative tasks. They are legal assistants who can carry out duties that can assist attorneys and judges. They conduct research to help their employers in their legal tasks. In other words, they play a crucial role in an attorney’s success. Because of that role, it is important that paralegals should earn a good education. Bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree in any study is one of the requirements to become a paralegal. Although it is not an absolute requirement to obtain a paralegal diploma or certificate, a certificate or a diploma in paralegal studies gives one an edge when looking for a paralegal job position.
What are the types of paralegal programs offered?
There are different institutions in the US that offer paralegal education programs. You may choose from any of the programs listed below.
* 4-year education program in paralegal studies
* Associate’s degree
* Certificate programs – They can vary from several months to a year.
* Advanced paralegal education program – Completing this program allows you to obtain a master’s degree in paralegal studies, which gives you more job opportunities.
Choosing the right institution
Nowadays, it is easier to obtain an education program for paralegal studies. With the advent of online schools, you can enroll and sign up for a paralegal education program that helps you prepare in carrying out tasks as a legal assistant in real world.
When choosing for the institution that can give you an online paralegal diploma, you should opt for the one that has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). A school that has gained ABA’s recommendation signifies that it offers high quality education for aspiring paralegals. To obtain ABA’s approval, an online school has to be in operation for 2 academic years and has met the guidelines and requirements of the ABA. You may visit ABA’s website to look into its list of ABA-approved online paralegal programs.
What can you get when you enroll in an online school to obtain a paralegal certificate or diploma?
Online paralegal education programs should aim to develop competencies in the following areas:
* Critical thinking – This is important when you are assigned to analyze, research and solve a particular case.
* Organizational skills – You should be able to know how to communicate with clients, judges, lawyers and other people that you will interact in the future.
* Computer skills
* Communication skills
* Understanding of ethics
Can an online paralegal education program help you become a lawyer?
An online paralegal education program can help you land a job in the paralegal world. While working in the paralegal field, you will understand how legal processes work and be able to have first-hand legal experience into law practice. With that in mind, your work experience as a paralegal will help you succeed should you wish to continue your education in law school.
But keep in mind that a paralegal education program will not qualify you to take the bar examination. Also, the said education program should not be considered as an equivalent of a law school education. In addition to that, the units you have obtained from a paralegal education program are not transferable to law school.
In other words, a paralegal degree is just a stepping stone if you aspire to enroll in law school. Some paralegals do work as a paralegal first before they go to law school and become a lawyer. This can help them determine whether or not being in the legal field is the right career for them.