Behind those skillful lawyers are a group of individuals called paralegals or legal assistants. Paralegal is defined as a profession employed by a lawyer, governmental agency, law office or another entity that performs legal work. Although legal assistants may act as a lawyer, they are not allowed to represent as lawyers to the public or to present cases in open courts. Essentially, they work under the supervision of a lawyer, who is the officer of the court. Certification is not mandatory in the US. But, in order to obtain more job opportunities, anyone who wishes to become a paralegal needs to undergo paralegal training or take on further courses.
As mentioned earlier, paralegals are not required to obtain a certification of paralegals. However, mandatory certification is being advocated these days. It is a catch-22 situation. The reason for this is to provide a distinction between real paralegals and merely legal secretaries. In addition to that, mandatory certification helps boost the standard of paralegals today.
If you want to become a paralegal, you have to be proactive and should decide to go ahead of the others by taking paralegal courses from accredited schools. You may also be able to learn online by doing online degrees to further help your career and increase your knowledge about this highly exciting and lucrative profession.
Paralegal accredited schools
One of the ways to obtain a certification is to attend a 2-year community college. However, if you are currently enrolled in a 4-year university, your school might be offering legal assistant courses. But your school should be certified by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Paralegal courses from any of the paralegal accredited schools will assist you in learning about the many facets of law. These courses will include sociology, litigation, marketing, different types of law, dispute resolution and professional and legal ethics.
Once you have finished paralegal courses, you can obtain further training through an internship program in a local lawyer's office. This is to help you hone your skills to become a certified legal assistant.
After you have completed your internship program, you should pass a final exam that allows you to receive a certification. When you will become a certified paralegal, you may take additional courses and other certifications provided by the National Federation of Paralegals Association.
Qualifications to practice as a paralegal
To become a legal assistant, you should be able to satisfy the following minimum requirements:
- 2-year in-house training
- 3 years experience in the paralegal field
- Passed the examination of the Certification Legal Assistant conducted by the National Association of Legal Assistants
- Completed courses or education from paralegal accredited schools
Most popular paralegal educational programs
- Bachelor degree programs to become a legal assistant. You will need to complete over 120 sessions related to paralegal studies. Completing this program entitles you to receive a bachelor's degree.
- Certificate programs are given after you have completed paralegal-related bachelor's degree programs.
- Master's degree program aims to further your knowledge about paralegal studies.
Paralegal certification may not be mandatory to help you become a paralegal. However, if you wish to grab more job opportunities in the paralegal world, you need to acquire certification and undergo paralegal training. In addition to that, you should also meet the minimum requirements to become a paralegal and earn paralegal education.