Paralegals and legal assistants help law firms and organizations with many petty legal tasks. It is an easy way to get an idea of the working of lawyers and the chores involved. Students interested in pursuing this line of study can join the online paralegal certificate program and earn an online paralegal degree, a bachelor’s degree, or an online paralegal associate certificate.
The gist of services paralegals do:
- Help lawyers prepare for trials and meetings,
- Conduct research on relevant laws and regulations,
- Study legal articles and create reports.
- Organize documents.
- Paralegals cannot offer legal advice to clients or charge legal fees.
They have several responsibilities that vary based upon the type of legal practice they serve. Some assist in preparing mortgages and other financial documents, while others investigate, collect, and organize evidence for court hearings. Paralegals in large firms often focus on specific areas of law, while those in small firms often assist and work on cases from beginning to end.
The paralegal profession is getting wide recognition as many public agencies, private law firms, and corporations understand that paralegals are cost-effective and improves efficiency. The minimum education required for paralegals is a certificate in paralegal studies, although most employers prefer candidates with more education and qualifications.
Students have lesser options in bachelor’s programs in paralegal studies than paralegal certificate and associate programs. Many paralegal aspirants earn a bachelor’s degree in another subject, such as criminal justice or law, and then pursue a paralegal certificate.
What is a Paralegal Certificate?
A paralegal certificate is one of the first basic qualifications for paralegal positions. These programs focus principally on core concepts of the subject. While some programs give eligibility for non-credit paralegal certificates, others grant credit for learners so that they can apply towards an associate or bachelor’s degree.
The course duration varies, and based on the program chosen, students can get a paralegal certificate in six months. However, those who opt for more education have better career opportunities. Completing a two-year or four-year program provide higher job prospects. Since the program is online, many students obtain a certificate and pursue higher studies while working.
Students should evaluate each program while selecting the best online paralegal certificate program to help achieve their objectives before enrolling in a program.
The students must consider the method of instructions, duration, and certificate fee. Those students who wish to study further should also ask if they can transfer their coursework towards the degree they intend to pursue.
The course fee varies depending on the status of the students. Online students pay much lesser as they save on accommodation, transport, fees, etc. Outstation students will need to pay additional for their housing, food, and general expenses. Most colleges offer hostel facilities. Part-time students may have the maximum costs as the duration of the program will be more.
This is an essential aspect that the candidates must enquire about. Most of regionally accredited institutions seldom recognize credits earned through nationally certified schools. After making their associate degree, students planning to move to a four-year school should research prospective schools’ transfer agreements and policies before registering. Furthermore, students with earlier academic or professional experience should look for schools with substantial transfer policies or options to obtain credit for work experience.
Students planning to join an online paralegal studies certificate or an associate in paralegal studies online should consider each prospective program’s course. Paralegal certificate programs generally take about six months to complete, and an online paralegal associate degree takes two years. Each student’s program completion time depends on their situation, time they can put each day, and enrollment status. Part-time students will take a longer time to graduate than full-time students.
What is a Paralegal Associate Degree?
Students completing an associate degree in paralegal studies will be mastering major courses and general education requirements. They also gain more fundamental knowledge than learners in paralegal certificate programs.
The topics associate programs cover include English, Communications, Mathematics, and Foreign languages. Online paralegal associate degrees may require an internship or class experience.
Accreditation for Online Paralegal Programs
The online paralegal certificate programs do not receive accreditations from the American Bar Association (ABA) but still earn their education from ABA-approved programs. The ABA approval programs are of a higher set of criteria. They require a minimum of 10 on-campus semester hours. Since this is not a criterion with online paralegal programs, they do not qualify for ABA approval. There are very few students holding ABA-approved paralegal associate and bachelor’s programs.
Some programs can complete in just six months, but those who wish to make a career and grow big in the industry pursue the best online paralegal certificate program will opt for the two-year associate or four-year bachelor’s program. It gives them more job options and higher earning potential.