Paralegal Training and EducationJune 10, 2018
A paralegal will assist lawyers in preparing their cases for trials, hearings and closings. A paralegal can also investigate facts of a case and prepare written reports for lawyers. Paralegal training will involve obtaining the two year associate’s degree and working as an intern in a public or private law firm.
While there are certificate and bachelor’s degree programs available for this criminal justice position, the majority of paralegals will obtain the associate’s degree in paralegal studies.
Certificate paralegal training programs vary widely, with some programs being completed in a few short months, while other certificate programs last for a period of six to twelve months.
Education Overview for this Criminal Justice Position
Both degree and certificate programs will feature an internship, which allows for the paralegal student to obtain field experience working alongside lawyers and certified paralegals. When seeking employment in this field, having completed an internship is a valuable asset for a potential employee to list on their resume.
To qualify for enrollment into a paralegal certificate or degree program an applicant will need to have a high school diploma or GED and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. The typical coursework for a paralegal program will include such topics as legal research, paralegal studies, computer work for the paralegal, litigation basics, business law foundations and report writing.
Certification for this field is done on a voluntary basis, but it can help to significantly improve a person’s chances of landing employment. There are many agencies that have credentialing programs for this field and they will require individuals to obtain a certain amount of continuing education credits in order to maintain certification.
The Salary for the Paralegal
The salary for this position will depend on each individual’s training and education, in addition to their experience in the field, place of employment and geographic location. Paralegals that work for larger law firms will earn more than the paralegal that works for a smaller firm, or in a more rural area. The average annual income for this position ranged from $38,000 to $42,000, while the top ten percent in this field had a salary that ranged from $68,000 to $72,000.
Law firms will also typically pay their paralegals bonuses, in order to compensate for long work hours. Additional benefits for this position will include health insurance, paid sick leave, vacation pay and paid continuing education programs.
There are a number of organizations that will employ a paralegal, but the majority will be employed by law firms, government agencies and corporate legal departments. A paralegal will have more responsibilities in this position once they have gained two or more years of field experience. These additional responsibilities will include assigning tasks to new paralegals and training paralegal students.