Associate of Specialized Business (ASB) program in paralegal studies typically include courses in legal studies, business and liberal arts. They prepare students to assist attorneys with tasks including research, correspondence, real estate transactions and investigations. Students may also be required to complete internships in attorney's offices. These programs take 15-24 months to complete at community colleges and vocational schools. They are also available under other degree titles, such as Associate of Science and Associate in Applied Science.
A student must have a high school diploma or GED certificate to enroll. They must also demonstrate proficiency in using a computer or take classes in computer fundamentals. Prerequisite classes in English composition, fundamentals of the legal system and political science may be required before students begin their paralegal coursework.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Court Reporting
- Legal Administrative Assistant or Secretary
- Legal Assistant or Paralegal
Associate's Degrees in Paralegal Studies
Although paralegals may carry out much of the same work that lawyers do, they cannot advise clients, present cases in court or make legal decisions. Therefore, coursework focuses specifically on the duties of paralegals. Topics may include:
- Legal terminology
- Spreadsheet creation
- Real estate law
- Criminal law
- Legal writing
- Probate issues
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning an associate's degree is the most common way to become a paralegal (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that employment of paralegals and legal assistants was expected to grow by 8% from 2014-2024, but competition for these jobs is expected to be fierce. The median annual salary for paralegals and legal assistants was $48,810 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education and Professional Certifications
Paralegals with associate's degrees may decide to pursue bachelor's or master's degrees in paralegal or legal studies. A master's degree could help a paralegal who wants to work in academia or in a specialized field. Holding a certification from a professional organization may give paralegals an edge in the job market. A number of organizations offer certifications based on experience and the successful completion of an examination. These organizations include the American Alliance of Paralegals Inc. and the National Association of Legal Assistants.
Overall, if you want to become a paralegal, an ASB in the field can provide the necessary training. It also gives students the foundational knowledge for higher level studies in related fields.