Prepare for an interesting, behind-the-scenes legal career.
(Note: Only the Herzing University paralegal programs at New Orleans and Atlanta are approved by the American Bar Association.) Altanta and New Orleans students click here.
Today, paralegal professionals are handling many of the tasks traditionally done by lawyers. At law firms and corporations, they handle such important projects as:
- Investigating the facts of cases to ensure that all relevant information is considered.
- Identifying appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to assigned cases.
- Preparing written reports that attorneys use in determining how cases should be handled.
- Helping prepare the legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court.
- Tracking files of all-important case documents and make them available and easily accessible to attorneys.
In addition they help draft contracts, mortgages, and separation agreements as well as assist in preparation of tax returns, trust fund establishment, and estate planning. Some paralegals coordinate the activities of other law office employees and maintain financial office records.
The demand for paralegals is expected to grow in expanding areas such as intellectual property, healthcare, international law, elder issues, criminal law, and environmental law. The growth of prepaid legal plans should also provide new opportunities in this field.
The right credentials can launch a legal career in many areas.
Paralegals and legal assistants work in every field of law. They handle most of their work in offices and law libraries. Occasionally, they travel to gather information and perform other duties. Those employed by corporations and government usually work a standard 40-hour week while those in law firms sometimes put in very long hours under great pressure to meet deadlines.
A career as a paralegal or legal assistant could be right for you, if you:
- Are comfortable in a highly structured environment
- Are precise and pay attention to details
- Enjoy research and paperwork
- Have excellent written and oral communications skills
- Have strong computer skills
- Wish to continually expand your capabilities
- Work well alone or as part of a team
- Handle on-the-job pressure
- Are inquisitive and like to find answers to question
What are the career opportunities in this field?
Legal Studies — Career Paths
Opportunities for paralegal work exist in all areas of law, including family law, bankruptcy, employee benefits, personal injury, litigation, copyrighting, criminal law, labor law, immigration, and real estate. While seven out of ten paralegals work for law firms, many others are employed by the government or corporate legal departments.
All paralegals assist lawyers with the creation of legal documents and conduct research on laws, court cases and contracts, but some duties will vary depending on the employer. Those entering this field with little or no prior experience will typically perform routine tasks, taking on the additional responsibility of more varied tasks after gaining the appropriate experience.
Graduates of this program will also be eligible to work as a legal assistant or paralegal. The duties of a legal assistant/paralegal include assisting the lawyer with research, brief preparation, and other legal office administration, but do not include practicing law, advising clients, or setting fees since paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.
- Private sector paralegals - Legal assistants working for law firms or corporations often assists on such topics as employee benefits plans, shareholder agreements, financial reporting, and government labor regulations.
- Public sector paralegals - Duties for legal assistants working for government agencies depend on the specific focus of that agency. Those employed at the community level may assist with projects that help people who otherwise could not afford legal services. If working in litigation, the paralegal may assist with file maintenance, policy research, the preparation of explanatory documents about regulations and policy relating to that agency, and compiling data for agency hearings.
- Freelance paralegals - In some states, paralegals are able to freelance for lawyers, law firms or legal departments. They may work in a specialty area of the law or provide general assistance on exceptionally large or short-deadline projects.
Legal assistants are typically employed in an office setting and spend their time on the computer or in a legal library. Legal assistants may work part or full-time depending on the employer’s needs. Full-time employees typically receive a comprehensive benefits package including health care and retirement savings plan(s). A 40-hour work week is standard for most full-time paralegals however those employed by law firms may be required to work additional hours to meet court deadlines. Legal assistants may need to take precautions against eye strain and carpel tunnel, symptoms which occur more often for workers spending many hours at a computer.
Professionals in the paralegal field advance by taking on greater responsibility; this includes a greater diversification of duties, tasks that prove critical to case work or deadlines, and supervising other department personnel. Upon completing an associate degree in paralegal/legal assisting, experience is the largest factor in advancement; however, obtaining a bachelor degree will help most paralegals advance at a faster pace and earn a higher income. Certifications are also available for paralegals who wish to maximize promotional and employment opportunities.
Legal Assisting and Paralegal — Career Outlook
Legal assistants and paralegals are taking over many duties once performed by lawyers. This saves an employer money and increases demand for qualified legal assistants.
Only the Herzing University paralegal programs at New Orleans and Atlanta are approved by the American Bar Association. See http://www.herzing.edu/about/accreditation
What certification/licensure does this program prepare you for?
Graduates of the Associate of Science in Legal Studies or the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies programs are eligible to take the Certified Paralegal examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
What is the program title, length, and content?
Herzing University provides legal studies students with many career options. Our graduates work in law firms and corporate legal departments as well as government agencies as legal assistants, paralegals, research assistants and supervisors.
Note: Only the Herzing University paralegal programs at New Orleans and Atlanta are approved by the American Bar Association.
Legal Studies Program Comparison Chart
|Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Legal Studies||63||20|
|Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies||126||36|
Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Legal Studies
In this program, students learn about different types of law as well as gain the skills needed to conduct legal research and prepare legal documents. Graduates are prepared to sit for the Certified Legal Assisting and Certified Paralegal exams through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). They are ready for a professional role in any area of law. Download Program Course Sheet
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
Designed to provide students with a more advanced understanding of law, this program also incorporates a selection of core business courses to provide a solid background in management and administration. Graduates are prepared for careers in legal assistance, legal administration, business and management training. This degree is also ideal for those wishing to continue on to law school. Download Program Course Sheet