Kaplan degree programs
Are you hooked on watching old episodes of TV’s Law & Order? Chances are you have noticed the savvy legal assistants, or paralegals, who help the lawyers assemble all the facts related to their cases. Becoming a paralegal can offer you a challenging and interesting career with opportunities for growth and advancement.
Paralegals conduct research on relevant laws, legal articles, and regulations and then write a report which helps a lawyer to prepare a solid court case. The work varies according to the legal practice: Some paralegals help prepare mortgages or other financial documents, while others investigate, collect, and organize evidence for court hearings.
The paralegal profession can be traced to the 1960s, when assistants were trained to help attorneys during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Since then, the career has expanded as public agencies, private law firms, and corporations have recognized the benefits of employing paralegals to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their services.
Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there were about 256, 000 paralegal and legal assistant jobs in the Unites States in 2010, and it predicts an 18% growth for the career through 2020.
The average paralegal’s 2010 salary was , 680 per year, or $22.44 per hour.
The typical workload of a paralegal can be varied and interesting. In larger firms, paralegals may specialize by working on the same particular phase of a variety of cases, while a paralegal at a smaller firm may work on the same case from beginning to end.
Either way, a paralegal’s responsibilities usually include:
- investigating the facts of a case
- conducting research on relevant laws and regulations
- organizing and presenting that information
- storing information in computer databases
Some paralegals specialize in areas such as litigation, personal injury, corporate law, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate.
As you grow in your career, your salary can grow in step, as you take on other responsibilities such as supervising team projects.
More than 1, 000 colleges and universities offer paralegal training programs; however, only about 270 of those programs are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). ABA approved programs offer courses in legal research, laws and ethics, legal writing, family law, business law, intellectual property and personal injury.
An associate’s or bachelor’s degree program includes core studies in English, science, math, and social sciences, along with other courses required for paralegal work.
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