Legal assistants who are also identified as a paralegal is an individual who is required to perform certain tasks which are generally the responsibility of the attorney. This is usually the case when an attorney does not have a paralegal to provide assistance. The paralegal is assigned the responsibility of investigating the facts which may be related to a case, interview witnesses and clients, draft legal documents and even conduct legal research.
A paralegal is not allowed to provide legal advice and must always work by being supervised by an attorney. The legal profession finds it essential to hire the services of a paralegal. In most cases, the term paralegal is interchanged with a legal assistant and some are also referring to them as secretarial assistants but it is the duty of a paralegal to perform tasks which are directly pertaining to the laws.
Who Can Consider Becoming A Paralegal?
If you are interested in a legal career but are uncertain about whether you want to visit law school a career as a paralegal will be appropriate for you. You need to have certain skills which include communication, multitasking, and the interest to investigate which can be obtained from educational programs for paralegals. However, it will be beneficial if you already possess these skills. The job outlook for the paralegal profession is estimated to grow by 17% until 2022 by the Bureau of labor statistics and the figure can give you an accurate assessment of your future to make an informed decision.
A career with a positive outlook for the future may certainly interest you and it could also be a benefit to you if you possess the skills necessary and are interested in the legal system in America. A career as a paralegal may be just what you need in times where unemployment is already raging high.
How Can You Become A Paralegal?
You will have several options before you if you decide to become a paralegal as stated by the National Federation Of Paralegal Associations. You will have access to certification programs along with two and four-year programs which are all merit-based. The route you choose will depend on your current role and status of education along with the goals you have in mind. You can also opt to obtain the post-baccalaureate certification which allows people with degrees from other educational institutions to obtain the credits required and the certification to become employed as paralegals. You must understand that law firms of top-quality generally prefer the paralegals they hire to have a four-year degree along with a certificate.
Despite a curriculum being suggested by the NFPA for paralegal programs, it has been observed that many programs being offered are not abiding by the standards. A number of online resources are also available to help students who are interested to find the appropriate formal education program for themselves. An option is also provided by the American Bar Association which is recommended by the NFPA. These programs have abided or even exceeded the standards which have been set for a paralegal by the ABA. After you have received some formal education you can also find continuing programs which can lead to paralegal certification. These certificates are different from the post-baccalaureate certification. A paralegal is required to have a minimum experience of one year and thereafter pass an examination in order to receive the paralegal certification.
Does A Paralegal Certification Prevent You From Becoming A Lawyer?
You are at no time restricted from becoming a lawyer after you decide to become a paralegal. Recommendations are often made to students who are interested in the legal profession but do not want to go to law school to begin working as a paralegal for gaining the experience needed in the legal field. The objective is also to understand whether they prefer handling the type of tasks they are assigned. Working as a paralegal will expose you to the intricacies of the law and help you to decide whether you want to pursue this field further and become a lawyer.
As an individual interested in the legal profession you are likely to find law school not just difficult but also expensive even as you may be wondering whether it is the right move for you. You may find that working as a paralegal proves to be a cost-efficient option during the time you are yet to make a decision. Working as a paralegal will also give you an insight into the conditions that lawyers are generally working in which could possibly assist you in making up your mind.