Friday, 8 July 2011

Learn the Simple Ways on How to Become a Paralegal

Legal assistants or paralegals are individuals who work in attorney's offices or law firms, corporations or the government. They are not allowed to practice law, such as presenting cases in court. However, they can perform a variety of tasks in a law office. For that reason, they should have a firm grasp about how the legal system works.

Becoming a paralegal online is easy. If you have earned a bachelor's degree, then you can get a paralegal certificate. Or you may obtain a paralegal diploma if you do not have an undergraduate degree yet. Diplomas and certificates for paralegals can be easily earned from an online paralegal school.

If you want to become an in demand paralegal, you can enroll in a paralegal education program being offered by an ABA-accredited school. When selecting the right school, you should keep these factors in mind:

Length of the program

Availability of financial aid

Other factors you should consider when getting an online paralegal diploma or certificate will include the following:

Marketability. It is important to choose a paralegal education program that will meet the education requirements of your prospective employers. For instance, if the company you wish to apply for as a paralegal requires a two-year degree in paralegal studies, you should not waste your time completing a four-year program. However, some employers do require their paralegals to obtain a four-year education program from an ABA-accredited school.

Teaching staff. The faculty and the instructional materials are important in helping you obtain the proper education for your paralegal studies. You should make sure that the online paralegal school offers an education program that will be taught by instructors who can develop your skills so you can easily find a job after completing the said program. The best schools have instructors who maintain contacts within the legal community that will be useful for you when you seek a job in the paralegal world. It is important to read reviews by actual students of the school you wish to attend. If you can communicate with them, ask them how long it took for them to find a job after completing the course and inquire what kind of support they received from the institution.

Career advancement. When selecting the right online paralegal school, you should not only evaluate its education program based on employability and teaching staff. You should also opt for an online school for paralegal that allows you to further your education. This is to ensure that you can pursue other related courses for career advancement in the future. That means, it should offer college credit in case you want to transfer to another school or shift to another course. A four-year paralegal education programs offer more advantages when it comes to career enhancement. Some paralegals who took a four-year paralegal degree opted to continue to law school to become a lawyer.

Paralegal specialties

Not all online paralegal schools offer a paralegal program that lets you choose an area of specialization. Some of the in-demand paralegal specialties are listed below.

Intellectual property or patent
Real estate
Complex litigation

Patent paralegals are said to earn higher salaries than other general paralegals. This is caused by the increasing cases of piracy and copyright infringement. As the trend is increasing, the demand of patent paralegals is also increasing.

Your ticket to success as a paralegal will depend on your education and experience. When opting to earn an online paralegal diploma or certificate, you should keep in mind the factors mentioned above to help you pick the right online paralegal school.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Paralegal Studies: Can a Paralegal Education Help You Become a Lawyer?

Paralegals are not just secretaries who perform administrative tasks. They are legal assistants who can carry out duties that can assist attorneys and judges. They conduct research to help their employers in their legal tasks. In other words, they play a crucial role in an attorney's success. Because of that role, it is important that paralegals should earn a good education. Bachelor's degree or associate's degree in any study is one of the requirements to become a paralegal. Although it is not an absolute requirement to obtain a paralegal diploma or certificate, a certificate or a diploma in paralegal studies gives one an edge when looking for a paralegal job position.

What are the types of paralegal programs offered?

There are different institutions in the US that offer paralegal education programs. You may choose from any of the programs listed below.

* 4-year education program in paralegal studies

* Associate's degree

* Certificate programs - They can vary from several months to a year.

* Advanced paralegal education program - Completing this program allows you to obtain a master's degree in paralegal studies, which gives you more job opportunities.

Choosing the right institution

Nowadays, it is easier to obtain an education program for paralegal studies. With the advent of online schools, you can enroll and sign up for a paralegal education program that helps you prepare in carrying out tasks as a legal assistant in real world.

When choosing for the institution that can give you an online paralegal diploma, you should opt for the one that has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). A school that has gained ABA's recommendation signifies that it offers high quality education for aspiring paralegals. To obtain ABA's approval, an online school has to be in operation for 2 academic years and has met the guidelines and requirements of the ABA. You may visit ABA's website to look into its list of ABA-approved online paralegal programs.

What can you get when you enroll in an online school to obtain a paralegal certificate or diploma?

Online paralegal education programs should aim to develop competencies in the following areas:

* Critical thinking - This is important when you are assigned to analyze, research and solve a particular case.

* Organizational skills - You should be able to know how to communicate with clients, judges, lawyers and other people that you will interact in the future.

* Computer skills

* Communication skills

* Understanding of ethics

Can an online paralegal education program help you become a lawyer?

An online paralegal education program can help you land a job in the paralegal world. While working in the paralegal field, you will understand how legal processes work and be able to have first-hand legal experience into law practice. With that in mind, your work experience as a paralegal will help you succeed should you wish to continue your education in law school.

But keep in mind that a paralegal education program will not qualify you to take the bar examination. Also, the said education program should not be considered as an equivalent of a law school education. In addition to that, the units you have obtained from a paralegal education program are not transferable to law school.

In other words, a paralegal degree is just a stepping stone if you aspire to enroll in law school. Some paralegals do work as a paralegal first before they go to law school and become a lawyer. This can help them determine whether or not being in the legal field is the right career for them.