Bachelor of Science – Paralegal Studies
Becoming a paralegal represents a great opportunity if you are interested in the law without having to become a lawyer. Paralegals and paralegals assist lawyers in administrative tasks, such as drafting contracts, reports, affidavits and court proceedings, and carry out investigations on information relating to a specific case. Since there are no strict education and certification requirements, you may be self-taught in how to become a paralegal. However, acquiring a formal education increases your chances of getting a job.
The graduate of the Paralegal Studies program will have the education and training to work under the direction and supervision of a lawyer and make delegated specifically substantive legal work under the supervision of a lawyer. Due to the high demand for legal work, lawyers have turned to paralegals to help not only in writing and investigating aspects of the law but also in preparing for litigation.
Courses and assignments reproduce real situations inside and outside the courtroom or legal advice. As an assistant to a lawyer, the paralegal investigates legal precedents, prepares legal documents, and investigates the facts. The investigation was conducted in support of a legal proceeding, to initiate legal action, to develop a defence, or to prepare documents. The paralegal program has been developed to prepare graduates in other knowledgeable areas of law. Advanced in litigation beyond the Paralegal Studies, the graduates can work in offices, private law government offices and companies.
Students have a culmination course, which includes preparation for certification. The certification is voluntary and optional and is not mandatory for employment as a paralegal. Upon graduation from the program, the student can become a registered Florida Paralegal through: (1) successfully completing the Advanced Paralegal Competency Exam (PACE certification offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations “NFPA”) and the good standing with NFPA or (2) the successful completion of the Certified Legal Assistant / Paralegal Certified Exam and the good standing. Registration is voluntary and not required in order to obtain employment as a legal assistant.
- No special certificates are needed to be a legal assistant.
- Identify the area of justice of your interest by talking to lawyers and also conduct research in different areas of the law.
- Also note that different states apply the law of different areas differently for the Paralegal Studies, which will influence your choice of geographic scope for practice.
Request a self-taught paralegal program in the area you wish to practice. Check with the program provider if the program is accredited by the American Bar Association, a regional paralegal accreditation body, state associations of lawyers or distance education and the Training Council.
Read free legal books online to supplement your self-study program and familiarize yourself with the area of law that interests you. Visit your local library and universities, as well as state bar associations to access other relevant books that are not available online.
Structure of Paralegal Studies:
The first year of study is relatively structured with mandatory modules such as civil procedure, constitutional laws, contracts, criminal law and processes, legal method, legal drafting, property law and personal injury law. The first year can also include mock trials where students can discuss cases against each other. During the second and third year of study, the courses may include evidence, civil litigation, taxes, wills and trusts, administrative law, commercial, family, environmental and international law. Although the Paralegal Studies do not allow much specialization, students have more freedom during the last two years to choose elective courses in their field of interest.
There is often the possibility of obtaining professional skills after the first year through clinical courses or external internships, allowing students to work with real or simulated clients. These opportunities vary from one law school to another, but they are usually in the form of real workplace clinics dealing with minor cases, external job positions in a law firm or a public agency or a course in simulated clinical work. Students gain professional experience through internships or internships during the summer. Learn the step-by-step process of conducting legal research by accessing legal research books at your local library. It uses online sources such as The Best Guide to Canadian Research, which provides a legal research guide and information from any jurisdiction, including the United States.
Study effective ways to conduct legal research online through the use of legal research guides, such as the Cornell University Law Library Guide. Acquire knowledge on how to generate the search terms to locate case material and the relevant statutes, as well as to verify the validity of the information online. Volunteer in a community organization or a local law firm to learn the skills of practising the profession as a paralegal. Look for opportunities at local paralegal associations, law firms and volunteer associations. Talk to the organization to get a description of what your work will be and what you can get from the experience.
Currently, certification for paralegals is a voluntary process; No mandatory exam for legal assistants exist in the United States. However, the issue of certification has been a topic of great interest and debate in recent years among paralegal organizations, bar associations and state legislatures. Many legal assistants obtain professional designations after having gained a couple of years of experience in the field. While certification is not a prerequisite for paralegal employment, it can improve your professional credibility, employment prospects and earning potential. Below is an overview of several certifications of common legal assistance.
National Association of Legal Assistants
Issuing Body: The National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA), based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, began sponsoring a certification exam (Certified Legal Assistant) in 1976.
NALA also offers advanced specialization exams.
Appointment: Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Paralegal Certificate (CP). More than 12,000 legal assistants have gained the use of this professional designation.
Eligibility requirements: To be eligible for the CLA / CP exam, a paralegal must meet one of the following alternative requirements:
The graduation of a paralegal program that is:
- Approved by the American Bar Association; or
- An associate degree program; or
- A postgraduate certification program in studies of legal assistants.