Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are employed by attorneys or the court system to assist with legal tasks, such as preparing for trial, researching cases, drafting legal documents, submitting court filings and facilitating communication with clients. While they are prohibited from personally practicing law, paralegals are an important part of the legal system and perform many of the duties that keep law offices running smoothly. Are you interested in pursuing a paralegal career? Here are some steps to take to obtain a position as a paralegal.
Graduate From a Paralegal Degree Program
While paralegals do not necessarily need a degree to work in a law office, it is always helpful to have the training and knowledge that comes from graduating from an accredited paralegal or legal studies degree program. Many community colleges have Bachelor’s degree or certificate programs that can put you in a stronger position to find a job at a law office or in the court system. Do your research beforehand by visiting the school and asking questions about the job placement rate of their graduates. This will give you a better idea of whether or not you will easily be able to find a job after graduation.
Pass a Certification Exam
There is no mandatory nationwide certification exam that paralegals must pass and only some states offer optional licensing through their bar associations. You may want to consider taking a certification exam, however, to give yourself an advantage over other job applicants. Your potential employer may also require that you have a passing grade on a certification exam before they will interview or hire you.
Find Employment at a Law Firm
There are many options for paralegals, depending on your area of interest. Paralegals and legal assistants can work in the areas of bankruptcy, corporate law, evictions, real estate, traffic violations, estates, Jesse Minc Personal Injury Law, criminal law and more. Often, paralegals end up working in multiple areas of law. Carefully consider the type of law you would be interested in assisting with and research law firms in your area that practice that type of law. You may also want to consider whether you want to work at a small firm with only a few attorneys or at a larger firm, which can have hundreds of attorneys and multiple locations.
Continue Your Education While Working
Working as a paralegal means constantly learning on the job. There are also opportunities to attend conferences and workshops to obtain continuing information about the way the law is evolving. You may want to consider becoming a notary public, which can be very helpful when working at a law office. A notary witnesses the signing of important documents, such as mortgages, affidavits, wills, powers of attorney and contracts. If you end up enjoying your work at the law firm, you may even consider going to law school to obtain your law degree.
The law can be an exciting and challenging field in which to work. Following these steps can put you on the path to pursuing the career of your dreams as a paralegal or legal assistant.