Paralegal Job Description
Become A Paralegal | Legal Secretary Career

Read my firsthand experiences & my honest Paralegal job description. Want to become a paralegal? I got my legal secretary job 5 years ago & never looked back!

If you have any interest at all in a great, stable legal secretary/paralegal career, keep reading to learn...

At Criminology Degree, we pride ourselves on being the Internet's number one resource for those investigating a career change or researching starting a career in criminal justice. One of our readers volunteered to write our Paralegal hub article for our collection.

All About Paralegals: My Paralegal Job Description

  • How do you become a paralegal?
  • What is the average paralegal salary?
  • What is the difference between a paralegal job description and a legal secretary job description?
  • What are the different paralegal careers open to you (including government and corporate paralegal job description)?
  • What should your paralegal resume look like?
  • And what is the best way to become educated in preparation for your paralegal career?

Paralegal Resume

paralegal and boss

As you begin to prepare the resume that will land you that coveted paralegal position in the firm of your choice, remember that you must be professional.

A professional paralegal resume will list:

  • Personal information
  • Previous (related) work experience
  • Education and training
  • Related skills and qualifications
  • Objective

Constructing a great objective is essential to your paralegal resume.

It should be both professional and personal, briefly explaining how the company would benefit from your employment and what you are looking for in an employer.

Getting your resume perfect is only part of the battle--but it sure is an important one. Also, be sure to research the company's specific paralegal job description. My experience has taught me that every company has a slightly different vision in mind for their legal secretary.

Paralegal Salary

It may not be the most high-paying job in the world, or in the criminal justice system, but paralegals are still fairly well compensated for their work.

The average paralegal salary is over $40,000 per year.

The top ten percent earners in the field of paralegal work, however, earn upwards of $60,000 for their contributions to their firms.

Paralegal Careers

legal secretary hands documents

A Legal Secretary Hands Over Documents

There are many paralegal jobs open to you across the country. Criminal justice is a rising industry with new jobs being created all the time.

You can work as a paralegal for a variety of different organizations, both government-based and private.

What you need to know before you can get your hands on one of these, though, is how you go about fulfilling the requirements to become a paralegal.

Placement in a firm is secondary to getting your education. And this can be attained in a variety of ways.

Me personally: I got my paralegal education online. It was the best decision of my life and allowed me to keep my day job and stay out of debt!

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How to Become a Paralegal

In order to become a certified paralegal, you need to get educated. This means getting a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, or at the very least a certificate in paralegal or legal studies.

This much is necessary.

But the way in which you become qualified is entirely up to you. You can either get your degree or certificate from a campus-based college or university, or you can get certified by attending an online institution, like me!

There are many advantages to going the Internet-based route, as opposed to the traditional one. Most importantly: expenses.

What is a Paralegal?

paralegal shows where signature goes

A Paralegal Shows a Client Where to Sign

First things first: if you want to become a paralegal, you should certainly know what it is.

The paralegal carries most of the responsibilities of the attorney, but is unable to perform all of the same functions.

For instance, according to the official paralegal job description, a paralegal cannot:

  • Set fees with regards to professional relationships with clients
  • Try a case before a court of law
  • Offer personal legal advice to any client

What they can do is assist the attorney in the preparation and execution of a case.

We get to do the paperwork, research, and interviews that an attorney simply doesn't have time for.

Online Paralegal Programs

Some of the benefits of earning your degree or certificate online include:

  • Saving time by completing your work faster
  • Creating your own work schedule
  • Living at home with your family
  • Saving money on tuition

There are a number of online schools that you can get your paralegal education in. Take the time to look them over to find one that is just right for you and your needs.

Paralegal Certificate Programs

If you are interested in simply earning a paralegal certificate before jumping headlong into the world of law and order, then you should certainly consider getting educated online.

By earning your certificate from an online university, college, or other institution, you can:

  • Save time (done in as little as 7 months)
  • Save money (up to ten times as much)
  • Stay home with your family
  • Keep your day job (if necessary)

Paralegal Ethics

According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, there are a number of canons (or rules) that each certified paralegal must follow during the course of his or her career. This is in the paralegal job description--no way around it.

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Like most professions in this country (including the medical and collegiate world), paralegals are governed by a body of individuals to make sure they are behaving and working in a strictly professional and ethical manner.

Accredited Paralegal Schools

The American Bar Association is a governing organization that offers a seal of approval to schools that have a curriculum that conforms to their ideals. This accreditation doesn't come cheap, however.

Aside from the ABA, there are other organization and institutes that offer accreditation to programs. And because the ABA doesn't recognize online schools with accreditation, this is good news.

Employers will often overlook the fact that a school isn't ABA certified as long as it is accredited in some other way and follows the basic curriculum as outlined by a school that is ABA accredited.

Requirements to Become a Paralegal

paralegal stamps a document

A Paralegal Stamps a Document

While you don't have to have a bachelor's degree in paralegal or legal studies, or even an associate's degree in a similar focus, you at least must have a paralegal certificate.

This can be earned in a number of ways. One of the easiest, quickest, and cheapest is by attending an online program.

These are some of the best online colleges and universities for paralegal studies:

  • Kaplan University
  • Everest College
  • South University
  • Colorado Technical University

Paralegal Bachelor Degree Online

You may not need a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies, but it will only help your chances of beating out the competition for the job you want. And in this competitive economy, any advantage is a worthwhile one.

Employers will recognize a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies as a sign that you take your profession seriously and are willing to take the time, spend the money, and put in the effort to be the best paralegal you can possibly be.

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