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Jessica Blackmer

Become a Paralegal and Change your Life

Are you interested in the legal field?  Do you love researching and preparing documents?  Are you the kind of person who prefers to be “behind the scenes?” If you said yes to any of these questions, a career in Paralegal Studies might be just the thing for you. 

What is a Paralegal?

A paralegal is a legal assistant who provides clerical support services to agencies and individuals within the legal system. Paralegals generally serve as assistants to attorneys but may provide legal services to government agencies or law offices. Paralegals are qualified as such by their education and experience in the legal field. While they are not permitted to provide legal advice to clients, they do prepare legal documents, do research on legal cases and may participate in investigations for cases as well as taking care of general clerical work in the office.  The terms paralegal and legal assistant are used interchangeable to refer to paralegal workers.

How do you Become a Paralegal?

If you are considering a career in Paralegal, you are likely wondering what steps you would need to get there.  It all starts with what kind of educational background you have.  Most schools offer Associate’s degrees and Certificate Programs in Paralegal Studies.  The reason that your educational background matters is that most workers entering the Paralegal field have either an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies or they have a Bachelor’s degree in another field and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies.  If you have already earned a degree in a different field of study, it is not necessary to complete another degree; you will be qualified to enter the field after completing a Certificate program.

It is important to consider accreditation when choosing the program that you enroll into.  Bryant & Stratton College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Regional accreditation is the highest accreditation that can be held by a college or university and it is a benchmark of quality.  In addition to this, Bryant & Stratton College believes in preparing students to enter the workforce and consults with experts in the legal field on a regular basis when creating new courses and updating existing courses.  This allows us to teach the skills to our students most desired by employers in the field by building them into our course outcomes.

If you are thinking of working for a large corporation or the government, you should consider choosing a law specialty that you would enjoy focusing on.  Some of the most common specialties are Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Patent and Copyright Law, and Real Estate Law.  It is important for someone interested in pursuing this career to become proficient in online computer research and legal software programs.  Those who are interested in entering the legal field should also become skilled in document preparation and communicating professionally through email.

Once you have earned your degree or certificate, you should still stay current with what is happening in the legal field.  A good way to do this is by joining a professional organization for Paralegals or by becoming nationally certified.  Paralegal professionals have the option to test to become a Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal (CLA/CP) through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)  This certification will make you more competitive in the workforce and being a member of the NALA will allow you to network with other Paralegals in your industry.

For more information on the Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies at Bryant & Stratton College visit https://www.bryantstratton.edu/degrees/associate-degrees/aas-paralegal-studies.


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