Paralegal Certificate

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Paralegals are legal assistants who aid lawyers with many key duties. They are responsible for compiling, organizing, and analyzing all documents and data related to legal proceedings and cases, and presenting the information to the lawyer, accompanied by such things as an outline, case history, plan of action, and notes regarding any cases, hearings, laws, or precedents that might be potentially relevant to the case.

Paralegals also conduct research, both in the library and in the field, where they are often called upon to interview people with information relevant to a case, and to compose the findings of the interview into clear, relevant legal documentation. The results are also provided to the lawyer, often accompanied by an analyses, and estimation of the information's relevance. While paralegals also help lawyers with many other aspects of their cases, they are prohibited by law from engaging in any actions that can be considered practicing law. These actions include providing legal advice, setting legal fees, and representing cases in court. However, many law firms are now entrusting paralegals with additional duties that were once handled only by lawyers. In order to accommodate the newfound responsibility, paralegals should seek certification courses that offer education in these more recent paralegal duties.

Earning Your Paralegal Certificate

There are several types of paralegal certification programs. Students can earn their certification through two-year associate programs, four-year bachelor's degree programs, and even through basic certification programs, which can often be completed in a matter of months. Paralegals often chose their education venue based on their far-reaching career goals, as some routes provide more of a foundation to build and expand on, should they want to continue their education after becoming certified.

Some paralegal programs also offer job placement. This is due to the fact that paralegals are currently in high demand at law firms across the country. Many law firms have experienced a significant increase in clientele over the last few years. The result has been an expanded workload, which can make it difficult for lawyers to efficiently fulfill their duties. As a result, tasks that were once carried out only by lawyers are becoming the responsibility of paralegals, in an effort to curtail each lawyer's escalating workload and time demands. The increased responsibility of many paralegal positions is addressed by the addition of new classes in many certification programs, such as distance learning online and correspondence paralegal training courses.

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