If you want to practice some law without investing in lengthy academic education, think about earning a paralegal certificate.
Most people understand the need for rules and regulations in our modern society. The need for order is instinctive and forming customs and some sort of social structure gives people a sense of safety and control.
There is, however, a special group of people who relish in going into tiny details when regulating anything that requires to be organized. They feel like a Judge Dredd, walking into a barren wasteland full of primitive tribes to teach them some law and order.
If you feel an overwhelming need to discover the secrets of legal science and contribute to shaping the judicial system of our society, think about getting the paralegal certificate.
As an assistant to attorneys and law firms, you will witness the swift hand of justice firsthand, as you become an expert in many branches of law and observe different cases and judicial procedures. Legislation department always needs people of strong moral integrity who believe that what they do matters and is making the world a better and safer place to live.
Lawmakers, judges, attorneys, and law enforcement work together to create a system that guarantees constitutional rights for every law-abiding citizen. They need your assistance to make this happen, and if you want to be a part of this noble undertaking, you will need to get at least a paralegal certificate, so you can actively contribute.
If you like researching facts, and you have a propensity for meticulous planning and organizing, you might enjoy learning more about this profession. Paralegal assistants are the backbone of the nation’s legal system and with their efforts, they help maintain the order of civilized society as we know it.
How to get a paralegal certificate
A certificate program can be completed in six to fourteen weeks, but one should be aware that there are different kinds of certification in this field. Traditional on-campus certificate programs are predominately aimed at people who already hold an associate or bachelor’s degree.
The bulk of other certificate programs are designed to accept high school graduates who are seeking entry-level jobs in law or government, hoping to expand their legislative knowledge base and skillset. Coursework typically teaches legal terminology, and basic procedures required in several legal subject areas, to prepare students for working with lawyers.
Students interested in paralegal certificate are introduced to the primary legal research resources, including the Constitution, statutory and regulatory law, case law, and executive orders. Legal research is the basis of the paralegal profession, and mastering this skill is essential to succeed in this field.
Students also learn and practice the IRAC style of legal writing, and the appropriate use of legal precedent and persuasive authority, which are sources of law that the court consults in deciding a case. Being knowledgeable in legal precedents can mean a difference between winning and losing a case for a client.
You will learn about personal injury law, and how to help people collect damages on the grounds of suffered pain, medical costs and lost income. Topics about procedures involved in processing claims and litigating, trial strategy, and the law concept of attorney-client privilege will be examined.
Professional codes of conduct and ethical obligations of the paralegals including confidentiality, unauthorized practice of law, and conflicts of interest will be covered in a paralegal certificate course. Employment laws, immigration laws and case studies regarding these sensitive issues will be reviewed and practiced.
Professional certification for paralegals is not obligatory, but earning recognized credentials is a solid investment in their future and a great way to distinguish themselves from their colleagues in the field.
There are three nationally recognized paralegal professional organizations that offer professional certification exams:
- The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- The Association for Legal Professionals (NALS) (formerly the National Association of Legal Secretaries)
It is important to distinguish that professional certification is not the same as an academic certificate. Exams offered through NALA, NALS or NFPA are not the same as a paralegal certificate you will earn by taking courses through an online course, college, university, or accredited school.
Academic certificate programs do teach to national certification standards and are useful in helping graduates prepare to earn their professional certification through NALA, NALS or NFPA if they choose to do so. The choice is entirely up to you and your preferences and educational goals.
Whether you prefer online education or taking traditional classes, we are here to help you find the best school for you. Try our college search tool which you can use to browse through schools across the nation to find the one that suits you.
What you can do with a paralegal certificate
Paralegals usually work in law firm offices, and lawyers have the paralegals accompany them to depositions at the courthouse. They are often tasked with the administrative duties that can include anything from filing documents with courts and judges to preparing briefs and researching into the relevant issue.
They assist in the preparation of law cases, so they can give information on case details to clients and file pleadings with the court clerk. As a paralegal, you will investigate facts and research public records to prepare cases, confirm sources and analyze trial strategy.
You will be a link between the law office and the rest of the judicial system. It will help you to be knowledgeable in transcription, stenography and having strong communication skills to deal with superiors, and all sorts of clients, and you may acquire those skills with a paralegal certificate.
Most paralegals work for law firms but some work in corporations to help prepare employee contracts, shareholder agreements, and financial reports. Some are employed in government or the finance and insurance industries, and they can be specialized in areas such as criminal law, intellectual property, immigration, and family law.
You probably know a joke about three little pigs being sued by a big bad wolf because he injured his back on their property while trying to blow the house in.
The legal system is complex and branched into so many categories that it requires a sound paralegal to specialize in a certain field to make a name for himself.
Whichever field you choose to excel, you will be an indispensable part of a legislative and judicial system that holds the moral fiber of the nation like a solid superglue.
If this sounds tempting to you, think about this career path, find a good school, and get your paralegal certificate.