Students enrolled in associate's degree programs in legal studies learn how to conduct legal research and provide assistance to licensed attorneys. These programs include general education courses in addition to legal studies courses.
Those students enrolled in a degree program in legal studies must study the basic concepts of U.S. law, civil litigation and legal procedures. They are also required to learn how to prepare basic legal documents, write legal correspondence, organize legal assignments, demonstrate knowledge of legal ethics and use correct legal terminology.
- Prerequisites: High school diploma
- Program Length: Two years
Associate's Degree in Legal Studies
A high school diploma is an absolute prerequisite to gaining admittance into an associate's degree program in legal studies. Applicants should also be strong writers and should have a keen interest in research and a strong attention to detail.
Associate's degree programs in legal studies include courses that provide an introduction to law and legal theory as well as courses that provide specific instruction and training in legal writing and procedures. Examples include:
- Introduction to the U.S. legal system
- Civil procedures
- Legal interview techniques
- Law office management
- Administrative law and contract law
- Family law and bankruptcy law
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Paralegals and legal assistants are most typically employed by legal services agencies or local, federal and state government agencies. About 256,000 professionals were working in the United States in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Those in the profession made a median annual salary of $48,350 in May 2014.
Certification for paralegals and legal assistants may not be a requirement, but it is recommended in the workforce. Organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants and the American Alliance of Paralegals offer credentials in the field. Individuals seeking certification are required to complete an educational program and pass a certifying examination.