BECOMING A PARALEGAL
If you are thinking of becoming a paralegal there are many things that may have inspired you, including popular television shows and movies, people you know, and situations in life that made you want to help people with legal problems and issues. There is also a good chance that you have considered becoming a lawyer or other type of legal professional, or to get a courtroom job. An advantage to becoming a paralegal is that it is one of the fastest tracks you can take to get a job in the legal field. Many people become paralegals in anticipation of a lifelong career in this fast paced and challenging career, whereas other people see it as a stepping stone to familiarize themselves with the legal field to help them determine if they would like to become a different kind of legal professional.
In simple terms, a paralegal does legal work to help to keep their attorneys organized and a law office running smoothly. Some of the many duties of a paralegal may include, preparing legal briefs, conducting client and witness interviews, doing legal research, preparing trial notes, organizing case files, and assisting their attorneys during trials. Paralegals can expect to work on contracts, real estate, civil lawsuits and other legal needs. The size and kind of law firm a paralegal works for will determine their specific job details.Being a good paralegal means being detail oriented, organized and efficient.
There are different paths a person can take to become a paralegal. A common way to become a paralegal is to get an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. An associate’s degree in paralegal studies provides students with a fundamental awareness of the law and practical hands-on skills. Associate degrees typically take two-years or less but individuals with different time constraints may take longer to complete their courses. People who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in another background, can take a paralegal certificate program to gain the knowledge they will need to be successful at their jobs without requiring additional years of schooling. As with many jobs, much of the skills and knowledge you need to be a successful paralegal will be gained while doing the job itself.
Paralegals can expect to work long and hard hours but many paralegals find this to be rewarding when they can do their jobs well. Paralegals need to be detail oriented and efficient, and can’t make mistakes or miss deadlines. Many paralegal students thought that they knew the need to be rigorous in their attention to detail but when they begin their careers they often realize that what they thought, was putting it mildly. While some people find that being a paralegal is too stressful because the responsibilities hold great weight, many people thrive in this kind of environment.