Two-year A.S. in Paralegal Studies programs train students to research legal cases, organize legal files, assist in trials, obtain legal affidavits and deal with various types of contracts and legal documents. Students are also required to take general education courses in subjects such as mathematics and social studies; course requirements like history help supplement a paralegal student's understanding of how law has impacted government and social justice over time. In addition, most programs require hands-on experience through an internship in a legal office.
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Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
The program includes education in various types of law, such as business law, criminal law and family law. Some programs offer mock trial experiences, allowing students a chance to prepare for assisting with actual courtroom proceedings. Some other course topics could include:
- Legal research
- Civil processes
- Law office procedures
- Tort law
- Wills and trusts
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of a paralegal studies program can become paralegals or legal assistants and seek opportunities specific to a certain type of practice, such as family law, mediation, property law, family court or tax law.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), paralegals and legal assistants are projected to see an 8% employment increase from 2014 to 2024, which is about as fast as the average job growth (www.bls.gov). Additionally, the BLS states that paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of $48,810 in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Students interested in advanced career opportunities can pursue a legal assistant or paralegal bachelor's degree. Additionally, individuals who want to become lawyers or legal experts can complete an undergraduate pre-law program. These programs offer instruction that can prepare students for enrollment in law school to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or a master's degree in a particular legal discipline.
For students who want to become paralegals, an Associate of Science (AS) provides the general education and basic legal training that is required. Those who want to go for higher positions within the field can transfer to bachelor's degree programs in similar subjects when they finish.