Online Colleges for Paralegal and Legal Services

Paralegals and legal assistants are integral in keeping the law offices and courts around the country running smoothly. As clients look for more affordable legal services, paralegals and those with a background in legal studies might be asked to handle anything from interviewing clients to helping an attorney prepare for trial. Though there are restrictions on who can provide legal advice, social service agencies often hire paralegals and other legal professionals to offer support to low income clients, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though most paralegals and legal assistants choose to work in law offices, there are other occupations that require an extensive knowledge of the law, including legal secretaries, law clerks, court reporters, claims adjusters and title examiners.

Paralegal and Legal Services Online Programs

Though legal assistants and paralegals can be trained on the job, most employers prefer an applicant who holds at least an associate degree. Helpful online courses can include legal secretary courses, notary public courses, legal assistant training and administrative assistant courses. Associate degrees in paralegal studies, criminal justice and social science are common options available through online schools. Four-year degree programs you can find online include the bachelor's of science in criminal justice and the Bachelor's of Science in Paralegal Studies. Those who already have a bachelor's degree in a related field can earn paralegal certification through community colleges or online schools. Some paralegal and legal studies programs offer graduate degrees, though these are rare in the online format. Specialization among paralegals and other legal experts is common, and can include real estate, accounting, social services and more.

Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS. More than 70 percent of paralegals work in law offices. Other large employers include the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury and the Social Security Administration. Those with training in real estate, medical malpractice, bankruptcy and product liability could be in highest demand, according to the BLS. The mean annual wages earned by paralegals and legal assistants were $49,640, according to 2010 BLS data. Judicial law clerks earned mean annual wages of $44,060 and court reporters and title examiners, earned mean annual income of $53,270 and $43,370, respectively.


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