A Lawyer’s Right Hand Assistant is a Paralegal
If training and practicing as a lawyer is not the lifestyle you want, but you crave the fast pace and excitement of working in law, perhaps being a paralegal or legal assistant is right for you. It requires someone with a passion for the law who can dedicate themselves to research, organization and preparation of cases, and if these qualities sound like you, you could be joining the field at the right time, for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a very rapid growth of this industry compared to other careers in criminal justice; with a projected increase of about 28% until 2018. Those numbers are much higher than most other professions, and matched with earnings that average around $46,000 but that can rise up to over $73,000, it can be a very exciting and lucrative industry to breach.
To become a paralgel doesn’t necessarily require extensive studying, and there are different ways to go about your education. From high school, you can apply to a community or vocational school to a 2 year associate’s criminal justice degree program. This is the most common way of entering the field, and there are extensive online schools, like Remington College Online or Kaplan University – School of Legal Studies, that offer the training you need from home. If at all possible though, try to enrol in an American Bar Association (ABA) approved program as it will enhance your opportunities later on. If you already have a degree in another field, you can also simply take a certificate program in paralegal studies that you can complete in around 6 months. Associate’s degree programs may give you the added advantage of doing an internship, but all courses of study will cover methods of legal research and using the computer for legal applications.
There are so many paralegal jobs opening because more and more tasks that a lawyer would normally do are being passed to legal assistants, leaving the lawyer with more free time to handle court work. A paralegal is therefore employed to basically prepare a court case by doing all the research, analysis and preparation of legal documents like treaties or contracts. They are also skilled to handle basic legal problems, but they are not allowed to give any legal advice or present any of the cases in court. A legal assistant is essential to a lawyer since they will essentially do all the background work required to make the case, and so having strong investigative skills, knowledge of the law and attention to detail are critical for a paralegal.