Find Out How to Become a Paralegal

Written by admin on May 13th, 2011

Learning how to become a paralegal is an important step in making the decision to get your education in this field. A paralegal is a person who works with attorneys. They do not have the same legal degree as an attorney does, but they do work with clients and aid attorneys in various ways. They often conduct research for the attorney. They write legal documents, contracts and reports for attorneys. They also do much of the preparation work for hearings, including important steps such as creating the closings, hearings and handling the documentation for trials. If this sounds like something you want to do, consider the options available to you.

If you are still in high school, and are hoping to work towards getting your degree in this area, start by talking to your guidance counselor. Ask questions about the demand for paralegals in your area. Find out what the local rate of pay in this field is as well as what the requirements in your state are for working with attorneys. Most paralegal students will enroll in specialized courses and degree programs to obtain this education. However, even while you are in high school you can begin taking courses that will work well to help you to get into these schools such as accounting, economics and law courses. Take them if they are available to you.

Next, check out the programs available to you in various colleges and continuing education programs. In some cases, there are work study programs that can help you to get started in this field right out of school. Look to the American Bar Association to ensure that the school you select to get your education from is one that is recognized by the ABA. This accreditation is critical for those who wish to work in this industry. You will need to select a school that is able to teach you to the requirements required by the ABA.

Once you find a school, consider the educational programs available to help you to learn how to become a paralegal. Some programs are just two years and may offer only an associate’s degree. However, many people do get a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. The type of education you receive will define the types of work you can do as well as the value you will be to an attorney who hires you. A bachelor’s level degree is often the most recommended option for paralegal students, though many will continue on even to earn their attorney’s degree in the future.

Once you find the school you want to enroll in, work through the educational programs the school requires to earn your degree. This process takes up to four years. After you complete the program, you will need to sit for an exam administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants. This allows you to legally work in this area of the field. It is a requirement that you do get this level of education before you are able to work in this field, but the type of exam as well as the type of subjects required to learn to achieve this will differ from one state to the next.

That is not all you need to do to learn how to become a paralegal, though. Many people who obtain this education will then spend some time working towards an apprenticeship or taking an entry level position in an attorney’s office until the individual can obtain the necessary experience to work towards becoming a full time assistant for the attorney. Take the time to find an attorney’s office where you have the ability to grow in your education and perhaps become an attorney there, one day.

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