The Basics of Becoming a Paralegal

December 31st, 2012 by

Paralegal Within the legal system there are a number of different individuals that work together to convict criminals, protect the innocence of individuals and ensure that justice is served in and out of the courtroom. Although most people think of attorneys, or lawyers, as being the driving force behind the criminal justice and legal systems, the reality is that there are many people who work together in tandem with attorneys.

A paralegal, or legal assistant, is someone who assists attorneys, and the position can be very interesting and challenging. It requires great attention to detail and communication skills, but it can also be enjoyable and lucrative.

If you are interested in pursuing this a career, keep reading for more information on the field. You can learn how to become a legal assistant, what a legal assistant does each day, how to study online to become a legal assistant and what kind of career opportunities and salaries can be expected you can expect to earn in this field.

How Do I Become a Legal Assistant?

Although it is not necessary to have any formal training or qualifications to work as a legal assistant, there are few companies who would hire someone in this field without extensive experience or a degree of some kind.

There are many specific associate degree programs that cover topics such as legal ethics, legal research, family law and personal injury to better prepare you for a career after graduation. These associate degree programs typically take two years to complete, and they can be taken online or through a traditional college campus program.

Many aspiring legal assistants also complete certificate programs. Although these are not formal degrees, they include much of the same training to secure a position after graduation. Licensing is not required to become a legal assistant, but it can help in your job search.

What Does a Legal Assistant Do Each Day?

One of the great things about working as a legal assistant is that you will never do the same thing every day. Legal assistants do almost exactly what attorneys do, which means that they constantly face new challenges and deal with changing situations. On one day, you might meet with a witness to discuss a future case.

On another day, you might help several attorneys in the firm prepare for a serious case that is going to trial. Legal assistants often meet with clients, prepare legal briefs and do research, and they may also have some administrative duties.

Can I Become a Legal Assistant With an Online Degree?

Not everyone decides to become a legal assistant straight out of high school, and few people have the opportunity to drop everything and attend classes every day on a college campus. Commuting, parking and organizing a schedule that includes work, education and family can be challenging, but online degree programs help.

Instead of driving each day to a lecture, you can stream them live over the Internet or watch them at a later date when it is more convenient. The degrees and certificates earned online are just as respected as those earned at traditional college campuses.

What Kind of Career Opportunities are Available in This Field?

Legal assistants are able to find work in a number of different places. While many decide to work in legal firms, others can find great positions in government agencies, in financial institutions and in court offices. Salaries for legal assistants with just two years of education is an average of $46,680 per year.

If you think that working as a paralegal might be the best choice for your future, find out more about earning your degree online at

About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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