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Paralegals Schools

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A paralegal, sometimes referred to as a legal assistant, is a relatively new profession (created in the mid '60s). Paralegals today number over 120,000 in the United States alone. They are a staple of law firms, from a one-person storefront to a huge law office. Government agencies, patent offices, real estate firms, and title agencies also frequently employ paralegals. Universities and schools are also using paralegals to sort through grant proposals, scholarship applications, and government funding requests.

The Duties of a Paralegal

The duties of a paralegal vary somewhat according to the office in which they are employed. In a general sense, they assist lawyers in research and case analysis. They interview clients and witnesses. They help prepare legal documents, such as briefs, wills, trusts, and real estate transfers, and they, frequently, supervise the office staff and other paralegals.

Superlative communication skills are necessary to be a successful paralegal. In the course of a typical day, he or she might talk with clients, write a memo or a complicated brief, and even supervise a staff of other paralegals. Computers are used by paralegals to keep track of the documents and facts associated with each case. Being able to use word processing programs, create spreadsheets, and navigate Internet search engines are all necessary tools.

A paralegal's salary can vary quite a bit, depending on his or her experience, supervisory responsibilities, and whether he or she works for a large company or a small firm. The national average salary for a paralegal is $44,000 with the higher salaries going to those paralegals working on either coast and in Washington DC. Specializing in one area of the law, such as probate law, and passing the paralegal certification exam generally increases one's salary.

Paralegal Schools--Training to Be a Paralegal

Becoming a paralegal typically requires completion of a training course. To enroll, applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED. Four-year, two-year, and several month certification courses are all offered. Online courses, too, are becoming increasingly popular. Schools frequently include some sort of placement assistance for graduates.

Training typically concentrates on basic law principles as well as ethics and law terminology. Communication skills, both written and oral, are highly stressed, as is computer training. Specialized courses in various areas of the law may or may not be included, depending upon the length of the training course. Longer programs will naturally yield to more in-depth study. In addition, students learn research techniques and legal analysis.

Online training courses give students the flexibility to "attend" classes on their own schedule. This can be after the kids are in bed at night or first thing in the morning before a student goes to work. This flexibility is ideal for older students and those with other responsibilities. Course material is the same as for those in brick and mortar classrooms. Online students communicate with other students and instructors via e-mails, chat rooms, and discussion forums. If your time is limited, an online paralegal school may be your best option.

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