What do Paralegals Do?
Paralegals work closely with lawyers to assist them with legal research, preparing documents, and maintaining files.
In both civil and criminal cases, paralegals may conduct interviews with victims, suspects, witnesses, clients, or client families. Paralegals take notes or record these interviews to prepare a written transcript for review.
Paralegals must know how to research statutes, the state and federal constitutions, and precedent setting case law. Paralegals take this knowledge and present it to the attorney in a written brief. Briefs identify the issues and show how the research applies to the issues.
Another responsibility is to prepare what is known as the trial notebook. Each attorney has a certain way to organize the notebook. These are indexed and organized so that attorneys can just follow along in the notebook as they present their case to the judge and jury.
Paralegals prepare rough drafts of wills, contracts, bankruptcy filings, motions, and pleas. Attorneys will review these and note any changes to be made.
According the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, paralegals earn a median wage of $46,000. Lowest reported wages were $29,000 and the highest reported wages were $74,000. Paralegal in large cities or firms will earn more than those working in a small town or law firm.
Requirements to Become a Paralegal
There are no set guidelines or requirements for becoming a paralegal. Some attorneys will hire someone with no legal experience so that the attorney can train the paralegal in the ways they like to have things done. This may happen more frequently in smaller law firms.
In order to have an advantage over other paralegal candidates it is recommended that one earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in legal studies. Students learn legal research and legal writing, legal ethics, interviewing and investigation techniques, and litigation procedures.
Another avenue to a career as a paralegal is to add a certificate in paralegal studies to your associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The degree can be in any field.
Some states do have certifications that paralegals must obtain before they can begin work. Voluntary certifications are available from organizations such as The National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.
Be sure to participate in an internship while attending college. Once you graduate with your degree and some experience, you will be well on the road to success.
Schools For Paralegals
Pioneering distance education since 1985, Liberty University is now the nation’s seventh largest university. With more than 300 online and residential areas of study, Liberty offers programs from the certificate to doctoral level.
- CERT: Paralegal Studies
- Paralegal (Associate's)
- Paralegal (Bachelor's)
As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.
- Paralegal Studies (AS)
- Legal Studies (BS)
Give your career a boost with an education from Bryant and Stratton College. We offer certificate, associate degree, and bachelor's degree programs for careers in the business, criminal justice, design, finance, technology, health care, and legal fields.
For more information about Bryant and Stratton’s graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.bryantstratton.edu/disclosures.
- Paralegal Studies-AAS
- Executive J.D. SM Program
- Juris Doctor Program
At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education. That’s why we offer a wide range of quality Certificate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in a highly interactive online format that emphasizes flexibility, convenience, and support. Whichever program you choose, you can take classes in 8-week modules, six times a year from faculty members with advanced degrees and extensive real-world experience. You’ll also enjoy access to a full array of academic support services, including advising, tutoring, writing center assistance, and our virtual library at no additional charge.
- Certificate: Paralegal (Legal Studies)
- A.S. in Legal Studies
- B.S. in Legal Studies
Study online with California University of Pennsylvania. We offer certificate and bachelor's and master's degree programs in a wide variety of fields that can be completed 100% online.
Earn your degree online with Grand Canyon University. We offer approximately 100 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs that can be completed 100% online. Degree programs are available in the fields of education, nursing and health sciences, business, fine arts and production, and liberal arts.
- M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies