What is a Legal Assistant/Paralegal, and what will I learn?
Legal assistants and paralegals are workers who assist lawyers with the day-to-day functions of filing, research, and documentation for court hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. They are a huge part of the overall success of both the law firm and the justice system. For this reason, legal assistants and paralegals study how to effectively investigate and gather the facts of a case, conduct research, write summaries, and schedule meetings such as interviews and depositions. A paralegal may also help draft employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and companies’ financial reports. The job is a great foundation for someone considering work as an attorney.
Future legal assistants and paralegals earn either an associate’s degree or a short-term certificate to prepare them for the job. The short-term certificate can be completed in less than a year. Enterprise State’s Paralegal Studies program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Enterprise State Community College requires that students take nine-semester credits of legal specialty coursework through synchronous online learning in a fully online program. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.
The major goals and objectives of the ESCC Paralegal Program, which serve as expectations of the graduates upon completion of the program, are as follows:
- To provide paralegal students with knowledge of major areas of substantive law as well as providing practical assignments which teach students to draft and interpret legal documents.
- To prepare students to apply analytic, critical thinking, and research skills to fact situation within a legal context.
- To prepare students to perform legal research by utilizing the most current electronic methods possible as well as having a basic knowledge of traditional library research.
- To prepare students to brief judicial opinions.
- To provide students with knowledge of the rules of professional conduct governing attorney’s actions and the application of those rules upon paralegals.
- To develop students’ abilities to demonstrate professional skills in oral and written communication and technology.
- To develop students’ ability to use effective personal, interpersonal, time and project management skills required in the legal profession.
- To respond to the needs of the legal community by providing paralegals/legal assistants who demonstrate professionalism and proficiency, and who are able to offer expert work product and enhance legal services.
You must be able to present your research and related information in a respectful, understanding manner.
You need to be familiar with how to use computers for legal research and litigation support.
You will spend most of your time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to make clients feel comfortable sharing personal information related to their cases.
You must be able to multi-task, as you may have to work on many cases at one time.
You will gather facts for cases and research information on relevant laws and regulations that will help attorneys prepare for cases.
can I get?
Legal assistants and paralegals work with attorneys in the federal government, finance and insurance, and local and state government.
What type of work
do the jobs consist of?
Legal assistants and paralegals do most of their work in offices, although they may sometimes travel to get information or attend trials and depositions with the attorneys for which they work.
As a legal assistant or paralegal, you will likely work in teams with attorneys, fellow paralegals, and other legal support staff to collect data and review documents legal support staff to collect data and review documents for depositions, trials, and other court-related tasks.
You will write and summarize reports, file exhibits and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel, and interact with clients, witnesses, lawyers and others for relevant meetings. You will need to be familiar with technology and computer software that can help manage documents over time. You will also need a smart filing system of important emails, data, documents, and accounting information.
What’s the career
On average, paralegals made $50,410 in 2017. Entry-level legal assistants and paralegals earned less than $31,130, and the highest earners made more than $81,180.1
There is a huge need for paralegal and legal assistants because law firms are counting on the workers to help reduce billing costs and streamline office services. The field is expected to grow by 15% in the next seven years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is faster than the average for all occupations!
For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Nelson – Department Chair
Phone: 334-347-2623 x2338
Lydia Dillingham – Paralegal Program Coordinator
Phone: 334-347-2623 x2207
Complete the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
1Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics