Qualified applicants are always in demand in the legal field. One of the most sought after professionals by law firms and corporations is the paralegal, the person who does quite a bit of the legwork under the direction of the attorney.
Two Ways to Become a Paralegal
Those wishing to work as a paralegal essentially have two methods available for doing so. They can obtain work at a law firm, eventually working their way up to a paralegal position or they can get a paralegal education in order to immediately become an entry level paralegal.
A Foot in the Door
Occasionally, law firms have openings for entry level employees. These positions typically come with titles like file clerk, document specialist or receptionist. Motivated individuals can work their way up from such a position to being a paralegal. However, this route generally takes several years, and some firms refuse to give anyone the paralegal title until they’ve received formal education. This method can work, but it requires a great deal more effort than getting a paralegal degree.
The Other Option: Education First
Without ever setting foot in a law firm until the day of their interview, candidates who have a Paralegal Associate Degree can obtain employment as a paralegal. While it used to be true that appropriate training had to take place in a traditional classroom setting, today the choices are quite different. A multitude of online paralegal courses is making it easier than ever to enter this exciting career.
Online Career Training
In a period of about a year and half, most online paralegal students can obtain an associate degree. The classes are taught by experienced legal professionals who have real world knowledge and capabilities. This makes them singularly well qualified to prepare students to succeed in a competitive field.
The Advantages of the Paralegal Associate Degree
During the paralegal degree program, students have the opportunity to become familiar with various areas of law. They will learn about torts, contract law and litigation. Estate planning and intellectual property law may also be a part of the curriculum. With an introduction to so many different areas of law, the student can make a better informed decision about the kind of law firm they’d like to work for. Moreover, students with a degree tend to earn better salaries and get promoted more quickly.
While there may be more than one way of becoming a paralegal, it’s pretty clear that earning a degree usually makes the most sense. Formalized training allows students to hit the ground running right after graduation.