Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in legal assistance or paralegal studies. In these AAS programs, students learn the skills they'll need to work as assistants in a law office, such as preparing documents and researching legal issues. Programs typically take two years to complete and may include an internship. The coursework may qualify graduates to apply for professional certification in the field, which, while not required, can be helpful for career advancement.
Associate of Applied Science Degree
Besides taking core general education classes, students are trained in various areas of law like bankruptcy law, criminal law, business and corporate law, civil litigation, divorce and family law, real estate law, personal injury law and property damage law. Typical coursework includes:
- Legal research and writing
- Commercial law
- Ethics in law
- Civil litigation
- Criminal law procedures
- Legal terminology
- Legal research methods
- Law office technology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants was $48,810 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Additionally, employment in this field is expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024. The most opportunities are expected to go to paralegals and legal assistants working in law firms, but employment is expected to also grow in large corporations, finance and insurance companies, consulting firms, and healthcare institutions.
Continuing Education and Credential Information
Students, who are interested in expanding their knowledge base, and possibly their employment opportunities, may wish to pursue a bachelor's degree program in paralegal studies. There are also a number of professional credentials and certifications available in this field, including the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) and the Certified Paralegal (CP) credentials offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants and the American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) credential offered by American Alliance of Paralegals Inc. Earning these voluntary credentials typically requires both education and experience, and the satisfactory completion of a test.
By earning a law-related AAS degree, students prepare themselves for basic legal careers. Graduates also have the opportunity to enroll in bachelor's degree programs or seek professional certification.