Associate of Applied Science programs in paralegal studies train students to assist licensed attorneys with their day-to-day activities by performing legal research, interviewing clients, assisting with investigations, and drafting legal documents. Students learn about litigation, criminal investigation procedures, and evidence preparation methods. Many of these two-year programs emphasize communication and critical thinking skills, and some require students to participate in an internship for one or two semesters.
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Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
The classwork in this AAS program helps students develop legal writing and research skills. Additionally, courses cover computer software applications and legal office procedures. Typical course topics include the following:
- Legal terminology
- Legal ethics
- Wills, trusts and estates
- Intellectual property
- Civil law
- Family law
Popular Career Options
Paralegals or legal assistants can work for law firms specializing in areas such as criminal law, family law, bankruptcy and contract law. Graduates may also work for state and local government agencies, banks and insurance firms. Other career options for those with paralegal training include the following:
- Real estate broker
- Property manager
- Patent clerk
- Office manager
- Court clerk
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of paralegals and legal assistance will rise by 8% between the years 2014 and 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. In 2015, the BLS reported a median annual salary for paralegals and legal assistants of $48,810.
Continuing Education Information
Students who complete Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies programs may enroll in four-year bachelor's degree programs. Some schools even have transfer agreements with local colleges and universities that allow graduates to enroll in business, organizational leadership, marketing, computer information systems or psychology programs. After earning a bachelor's degree, students may pursue a law degree.
To summarize, an associate's degree in paralegal studies prepares students for entry-level work in the legal field. It can also serve as a foundation for further studies in related subjects at the bachelor's degree level.