What Can You Do with a Paralegal Degree?
You love courtroom drama shows and find the law interesting, but you’re not ready to commit to the years it would take to become a lawyer. A Paralegal Degree might be a good path into a law office and maybe even a courtroom and the skills you’ll learn in the program are good for many other careers. You might find positions within the federal, state, and local court systems, providing support for departments within the courts or you might venture into corporate America.
Is a paralegal program right for you? Consider the career paths you might take.
Local, state, and federal courts and law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice all employ paralegals. In these settings, you might assist attorneys in a court’s Facilitators Office to draft documents for attorneys, provide educational materials to the public about the court’s rules and procedures, and help people who represent themselves in the preparation of legal filings. You would also provide referrals to state government and community nonprofit services agencies.
Court Research Specialist
A court researcher taps into court systems to review public documents such as mortgages, marriage records, tax liens, judgments, divorces, and criminal history. While research specialists often use public terminals located at the courthouse to gather information, many also work from home. Your job would be to collect data, enter it on a spreadsheet or data entry program, and help determine if it is relevant to a particular inquiry or case.
As a judicial paralegal your role would be to help attorneys prepare for trials, whether it’s for a criminal case or civil lawsuit where one party is suing another. You would conduct research, write and file documents with the courts, and prepare the items that will be shown to the judges and juries. You might also be present during the trial to take notes and help address any issues that arise. Before the trial you might interview the client and witnesses; review medical, police and other records; and work with private investigators. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with clients, law enforcement, judges, investigators, and forensic experts so all are kept informed of developments in the case.
Many times, both parties in a civil lawsuit decide to settle a case instead of going to trial. As a judicial paralegal, you would help prepare the agreements for both parties to sign.
If you work as a Paralegal in a firm that specializes in bankruptcy law, you would arrange for the appraisal of assets and personal property, attend bankruptcy hearings, and prepare the client’s monthly operating costs, petitions, schedules, and statements.
In a law firm that specializes in labor law, you would be involved in cases concerning everything from worker’s compensation to wrongful termination. In your role, you might need to collect evidence, prepare pleadings and affidavits, and even write and revise employee policies and handbooks.
The attention to detail and professionalism that are required for legal work are easily transferrable to other career paths. Especially in business, where CEOs rely on assistants to keep their schedules and handle multiple tasks, paralegal training could make you a top-notch executive assistant. Financial services, insurance, and real estate are other areas where your skills would be considered an asset. And if you find you love the law, you may want to reconsider and pursue a law degree!
At National American University, we offer an ABA-accredited Paralegal Studies program that is flexible and online. An Associate or Bachelor’s degree will give you a solid foundation to become a successful paralegal and enable you to have a competitive edge with employers. Do you already have some experience or a certificate in a law-related field? You may be able to transfer those credits to your degree program so you can start ahead. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor or request more information.