Paralegal Office Management Bachelor's Degree
Paralegals can be the busiest people in a law office. Although by law they can't dispense legal advice, paralegals can do just about everything else including interviewing clients, performing legal research, writing briefs and preparing arguments. Read on to learn how you can earn a paralegal office management bachelor's degree. Schools offering Office Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Why Do I Need a Paralegal Office Management Bachelor's Degree?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that you may be able to secure an entry-level position as a paralegal or legal assistant by earning an associate's degree or a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate (www.bls.gov). A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies may prepare you to complete additional duties as a paralegal and make you more attractive to employers. However, the BLS goes on to state that paralegal bachelor's degree programs might be difficult to find.
You may be able to locate schools that offer appropriate bachelor's degree programs through the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). The AAfPE maintains an online directory of member schools that offer degree and certificate programs. In addition, the American Bar Association (ABA) maintains an online directory of schools that offer approved paralegal education programs.
What If I'm Already a Paralegal?
Associate's degrees in paralegal studies are much more common than bachelor's degrees. However, in addition to traditional bachelor's degree programs, there are opportunities for you to participate in 2 + 2 or degree-completion programs.
Sometimes these programs are completed by way of an articulation agreement between two schools. You earn your associate's degree at a community college and then transfer to a 4-year school to complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree.
What Are Some Program Details?
Typical courses you might encounter include legal research and writing, software applications and keyboarding, law office administration, legal transcription, constitutional law, administrative law for paralegals, civil litigation and interviewing. Often, you'll have the opportunity to complete an externship at a school-partnered law office or agency.
You may have the opportunity to complete all or part of a program online. If an externship is involved, you'll have to complete it in a live setting. Other programs may simply contain a number of on-campus requirements. You communicate and submit assignments in online courses by way of a course management system such as Blackboard.
An online program is generally more flexible than an on-campus program. You're permitted to access courses 24/7 at your convenience, though in order to maintain a recommended pace, you may be required to log-in a specified number of times per week. By offering courses throughout the entire year, schools may give you the chance to complete a 4-year degree in three years.
What Are Some Employment Projections?
Though certification is voluntary, you'll find that it can enhance your employment and advancement potential. Depending on the professional organization, you may qualify to sit for a certification examination by meeting education and experience requirements. Organizations administering exams include the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI).
The BLS projected that employment opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants will increase 28% from 2008-2018. This may be due in part to lawyers attempting to reduce fees by hiring more paralegals to perform clerical and prep duties. In addition, as the population grows and economic circumstances continue to fluctuate, the country becomes more litigious. This increases the need for more legal services, which in turn may call for an increase in the number of paralegals and legal assistants. In 2010, the BLS determined the mean annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants to be $49,640.
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