Legal Assistant Training
If you are considering becoming a legal assistant, which is often also called a paralegal, you need the right training so you know everything that is required of you. The majority of employers request that you complete at least some college, typically with a related degree. Consider the usual education that is required of you to become a legal assistant, and learn how to get it.
Types of Degrees
Many community colleges have a legal assistant/paralegal training program that lasts about two years, resulting in an associate’s degree in this subject. This is one of the most popular ways to get the proper legal assistant training before seeking a job. There are also some vocational schools that offer legal assistant training, and these typically take about two years, as well.
You can also sometimes get legal assistant training from a university, resulting in a bachelor’s degree in this field. You may need to search for universities offering this degree since not every college does, but it can be a good idea to go for it if you are determined to get a bachelor’s degree. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject, you do not have to go back to school to focus on law. Instead, you can usually get a certificate within one year, requiring you to take some classes that teach the skills you need to become a legal assistant.
Of course, some employers occasionally hire legal assistants with no formal education. This may be a possibility if you are already working for a law firm, perhaps as a receptionist, and can learn on-the-job. However, not everyone can depend on this opportunity, so a formal education is often encouraged.
Legal Assistant Training Courses
You can expect to take a wide variety of courses when you study to become a legal assistant. If you intend to get your bachelor’s or associate’s degree in this subject, you will also have to take general education courses, such as math and English. But if you go to a vocational school or take a certificate program, you will likely only have to take classes geared toward the legal industry.
Either way, you can expect to learn about legal theory, as well as the history of the legal industry. Ethics, legal terms, and filing procedures will also be taught. In addition, you can expect to learn how to perform legal research online, manage records in the office, and write letters, motions, discoveries, and other legal necessities.
Choosing a Legal School
If you are determined to have the best chance of getting a job right out of school, you might consider attending a college that is approved by the American Bar Association, or ABA. This is definitely not a requirement, but if you are having trouble deciding on a school, you can take this detail into consideration.
Another way to choose the right legal assistant program is to find out how the graduates are doing. Many reputable schools offer this information, especially if their graduates have a penchant for finding a job right out of college. The admissions department should give you the facts when you ask; if they do not, or if the information is not particularly impressive, consider other schools. You want to ensure that your legal assistant training will help you get a job soon after graduation. You can also find out this information from any former students you may know, or even reviews online.
A final method of choosing a good legal assistant training program is to find out if there are any job resources available. Some schools help students find employment toward the end of their degree. They may also require, or at least offer, internships so students can get an idea of what a legal assistant actually does at work. Internships can also provide a great way to make connections with employers, possibly increasing the chance of getting a job right after graduation.
Earning Legal Assistant Certification
Another way to increase your chance of getting a job shortly after graduation is to get certified. This requires you to take an exam that will test you on your knowledge of this industry. Many certification programs also require you to have a few years of experience in this field before you can test, so look up the requirements before you decide to get certified. You typically have to commit to continuing education every few years to keep the certification intact. All this work is typically worth it, though, if you want an impressive qualification that not everyone has, as employers may take notice of this. As a result, you may not only get your dream legal assistant job, but your pay may also be higher than average.