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Becoming a Paralegal

Is Becoming a Paralegal Right For Me?

Studied Paralegal at James Madison

Are you …

  • A legal assistant who wants to augment your experience and training with a professional credential?
  • Looking for a career change into a legal profession with strong compensation potential?

Becoming a paralegal offers many exciting opportunities to advance your career.

What employment options are available for those who become a paralegal?

One of the most exciting aspects of becoming a paralegal is the diversity of career opportunities. Here are some examples of industries that employ paralegals:

  • Litigation
  • Bankruptcy
  • Immigration
  • Criminal Law
  • Workman’s Compensation
  • Construction Defect
  • Contract Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Real Property
  • Administrative Law
  • Court Clerk
  • Prosecutor’s Office
  • Public Defender’s Office
  • Incorporation
  • Oil and Gas
  • Environmental Law

Paralegal education provides additional professional advantages. There are many careers that, while not titled “paralegal,” are able to make use of a paralegal’s skills. Some of these professions include:

  • Real Estate Professionals
  • Landlords/Property Managers
  • Patent Clerks
  • Investigative Positions
  • Social Services
  • Office Managers

NOTE: We do not recommend that paralegals offer their services directly to the public. To do so risks engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

What do paralegals/legal assistants do?

A legal assistant or paralegal may perform any function delegated by an attorney, including but not limited to:

  • Conducting client interviews and maintaining general contact with the client (so long as the client is aware of the status and function of the paralegal, and the paralegal works under the supervision of the attorney)
  • Locating and interviewing witnesses
  • Conducting investigations, as well as statistical and documentary research
  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting legal documents, correspondence, and pleadings
  • Summarizing depositions, interrogatories, and testimony
  • Attending executions of wills, real estate closings, depositions, court or administrative hearings, and trials with the attorney
  • Authoring and signing correspondence, provided the legal assistant’s status is clearly indicated and the correspondence does not contain independent legal opinions or legal advice

NOTE: We do not recommend that paralegals offer their services directly to the public. To do so risks engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

Paralegal Industry Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, paralegal and legal assistant employment is projected to grow 8% by 2024. The following “significant points” were emphasized about the paralegal profession:

– Most entrants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a certificate in paralegal studies.

– Most work for law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies.

– Competition for jobs is expected to continue. Experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best employment opportunities.

We have compiled a list of useful resources for current and aspiring paralegals.

Do You Provide Paralegal Job Placement?

We want you to be successful upon graduation, so we incorporate four classes into your program to assist you with career development support — including résumé-writing and interviewing skills. You will also learn to develop a client file and produce work documents based on specific cases, and you will earn a prestigious Certificate of Completion from James Madison University upon graduation. While we can’t guarantee you a job offer after this program, we can certainly equip you with the tools needed to be as competitive as possible.

Are There Any Prerequisites for the Paralegal Certificate?

To ensure our students are prepared for the intensive, rigorous education in this online program and qualified for employment after certificate completion, we require either:

  • A four-year undergraduate degree

OR

  • The equivalent of four years of professional work experience (does not have to be in the legal field.)

Who Are My Instructors?

Your instructors are practicing attorneys chosen for their knowledge, experience, and effectiveness in the learning environment. The coursework focuses on the practical skills and competencies used in the legal workplace.