Online Paralegal Programs

Growing demand of legal services has pushed the need for paralegal assistants. These professionals are hired by law firms to assist attorneys and lawyers with the delivery of services. The US News and World Reporthave ranked paralegal assistant jobs among the best social services jobs in the nation.

What do paralegals do?

What is a Paralegal?

Paralegals are professionals who provide supportive services to lawyers and attorneys. These legal assistants help with the delivery of legal services and carry out a number of administrative tasks. The main difference between a paralegal and a lawyer is that paralegals are not authorized to provide legal advice to clients, sign legal documents, and must work under the supervision of a lawyer. The typical job duties of a paralegal include:

  • Carry out legal research for a case
  • Maintain and organize file systems
  • Call clients and schedule appointments
  • Write reports and prepare legal documents
  • Assist lawyers during trials and court hearings
  • Take notes and review trial transcripts
  • Help lawyers prepare for meetings, hearings, and trials

Origin of Paralegals

Paralegals can be traced back to the 1960s when the American Bar Association (ABA) increased the access to legal services for the betterment of legal services. Since then number of paralegal assistants has increased gradually. The ABA has made tremendous efforts throughout the years to promote this profession and increase the efficiency of legal services.

Educational Requirements

Not all states require paralegals to be certified. But it is necessary to have a degree in paralegal education. A number of accredited institutes are offering paralegal degrees and certificate programs. These are geared towards prepping students as paralegal assistants.

Paralegal Degrees

The primary goal of paralegal degrees is to provide students with in-depth legal knowledge and skills needed for the job. As the legal industry is transforming due to technological and economic changes, paralegals must be competent, skilled, and technically-savvy. Paralegal programs will cover a range of different subjects that highlight various facets of the field, administrative needs, and technological requirements. Credit hours are assigned to each course component that must be earned for the completion of the program. The curriculum may vary from school to school, but will generally cover subjects such as the following:

Legal Research and Writing

This course will enable students to learn about various research methodologies and how to effectively conduct legal research. The course also emphasizes writing skill development that is needed for the occupation.

Legal Ethics

As a paralegal, individuals must have a thorough understanding of the ethical codes in the practice of law. All paralegals must be fully aware of ethical boundaries they are required to practice within.

Legal Technology

This course will teach students how to operate various computer applications and acquire technical know-how.

Philosophy of Law

This course emphasizes important aspects of the legal field. Students will learn about the historical, moral, and cultural basis of law development.

Tort and Contract Law

This course will highlight the various principles of tort law and contract law. Individuals will acquire in-depth understanding of the formation of legal contracts, components of contracts, and compensation methods.

Evidence and Litigation Process

Students in this course will learn how to investigate evidence and facts. The course will cover in-detail the different stages of a litigation process ranging from pre-trial motions to cost-sentence submissions.

Court and Government Office Administration

This course covers the role and functioning of different federal ministries and legal departments. It is important for students to have a brief understanding of public policy and the inner workings of these offices.

Specialization Areas

  • Employment benefits law
  • Contract law
  • Business law
  • Family law
  • Real estate law
  • Criminal law
  • Intellectual property law

Objectives of the Paralegal Degrees

  • Students will be able to demonstrate in-depth understanding of legal processes
  • Build strong communication skills, technical skills, and administrative skills
  • Apply principles of legal ethics
  • Conduct legal research effectively
  • Display awareness of ethical and moral issues relevant to the legal field

Why Choose an Online Paralegal Degree?

Paralegal programs can also be pursued online as well thanks to the growing trend of distance learning. Now students do not have to be physically present in classrooms to earn a degree. The benefits of online paralegal programs have been listed below:

  • Students can study from their home or any location
  • Online programs can be cost-friendly
  • Flexible coursework
  • Self-paced programs
  • More accessible as compared to campus-based degrees

What do paralegals do?

Paralegal studies can lead to a range of job occupations in the legal industry. You can work as a paralegal assistant, judicial law assistant, and a legal secretary. The exact type of job you may qualify for will depend upon your area of specialization.

Career Outlook for Paralegal Assistants

Paralegal assistants are among the few fast-growing areas in the legal industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated a growth rate of 17% for paralegals. Paralegals are in demand in all kinds of legal firms and organizations. Federal agencies have the most paralegal assistants working. Here is some detail about the paralegal occupation:

  • Annual median wage: $46,990 (2012)
  • Employment in 2012: 277,000
  • Projected employment 2022: 323,300

*All figures taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Which schools offer online paralegal degrees?

A:Various schools such as Virginia College, Grand Canyon University, Kaplan University, The George Washington University, Ashworth University, Colorado Technical University and Keiser University offer paralegal degree programs online.

Q:How can I get a Paralegal online degree?

A:There are quite a few schools mentioned on our website offering the online programs in Paralegal Studies. These are offered in the certificate, associate, and bachelor programs, most prominently. You can get enrolled in any of the online schools listed on our website and complete the required degree. Here are the names of some of the online schools offering paralegal degrees: Bryant & Stratton College, Kaplan University Online, South University Online, and the Grand Canyon University.

Q:What career options are available after a paralegal degree?

A:After earning a paralegal degree, candidates can work in various types of law offices. Private law firms may give as much importance to personal interaction as to degrees and certificates. Large law firms might be more interested in education and experience. Paralegals may also work in government offices, banks, corporations, and other areas.

Q:What can I do with an online paralegal degree?

A:With a degree in paralegal studies, you can work as a paralegal assistant in a law firm. Legal assistants are in high demand nowadays and are ranked among the best occupations in the legal industry. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals made a median income of $46,990 in 2012. The employment growth rate is approximately $17%, which is faster than average.

Q:Can you tell me about the benefits of online paralegal degree programs?

A:If you plan to become a paralegal assistant but cannot attend college full-time, you can always opt for online paralegal degrees. In an online program, you can easily study from your home or any other location without having to go anywhere. On the other hand, you can also cut down on educational expenses since there is no need to purchase textbooks or travel anywhere.

Q:What is the admission criteria of online paralegal degrees?

A:The admission requirements will vary from college to college. Most schools will require you to submit your high school transcript and a few letters of recommendation. You may even have to take an entry test. The exact details of admission will depend upon which school you plan to enroll in. Browse through our page for more information.

Q:Can I specialize in a field of my choice in Paralegal Programs Online?

A:Yes, it is possible to specialize in a certain field of law in a paralegal program. However, you must check with the prospective school to see what options are available for specialization. Some of the most common specialization options are: real estate law, family law, corporate law, accident law, intellectual, property law, and more. Browse through our page for more detail.

Q:Why are online Paralegal Programs becoming very popular among students?

A:Paralegal programs are designed to prepare students for careers as legal assistant. The legal industry offers many career opportunities for paralegals. Students can opt for specialization in different areas of law such as corporate law, family law, employee law, real estate law, intellectual property law, and more. The 2012 annual median income of paralegals was $46,990 according to BLS.

Q:What are the enrollment requirements for Online Paralegal Programs?

A:In order to enroll in online paralegal programs, candidates need to research into prospective colleges as admissions requirements vary by college, and will also depend upon the level of program you wish to pursue. Generally, candidates will be required to submit their high school transcript, letters of recommendation, and complete an entry test.

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