Paralegals are commonly known as legal assistants. Although they can carry out the same jobs as lawyers, they are not allowed to perform duties and responsibilities that are within the scope of practice of law. Therefore, they are not authorized to provide legal advice to clients. They are also interdicted to practice law without obtaining a license. Most of the job duties of a paralegal will involve preparing paperwork for trials and hearings, conducting research to assist lawyers they are working with, drafting legal documents and writing reports. This profession requires completing an examination for the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or a paralegal certification given by the National Association of Legal Assistants.
Paralegal profession is ideal for anyone who wishes to have a career in the field of law but does not want to become a lawyer. Essentially, a paralegal is a starting point to test if this is the right field for an individual.
Different ways to become a paralegal
To become a paralegal, you can start working in any field that involves administrative duties. From there, you can transfer into the position of legal assistant.
Some lawyers can send few of their employees in order for them to obtain paralegal degrees and undergo trainings needed so they can perform job duties of a paralegal. While other individuals take initiatives and acquire necessary skills and experience to become a paralegal.
Furthermore, many individuals attained their paralegal position through promotion in their current workplace. However, this avenue will not always guarantee that you can assuredly become a paralegal.
How to become a paralegal according to the professional standards?
To guarantee that you can perform job duties of a paralegal, you need to earn required paralegal degrees.
Another way to become a paralegal is to complete a paralegal certification examination. This certificate will increase your chances to be qualified in an entry-level paralegal job. Moreover, a paralegal certificate offers good foundation for aspiring paralegals. While you are earning this certificate, you are also learning the basics of legal research and analysis, legal ethics and other skills required to become an effective paralegal.
How to obtain paralegal certificate or degrees?
Certificate programs for paralegals are being offered in various places. You can enroll at junior colleges, in a 4-year university, or vocational schools. With the advancement of technology, paralegal certificates can also be gained through online paralegal programs.
If you are enrolled in college or university, you may inquire at your school if they offer paralegal studies. In this way, you can take a couple of courses to gain some knowledge about the job duties of a paralegal. As you study its responsibilities, you can resolve whether this profession is the right one for you.