The legal field is an exciting and rapidly expanding employment area. You may associate law with attorneys, but you might not know that there are other jobs available in the industry. Paralegals, also sometimes known as legal assistants, help attorneys with tasks such as communicating with clients, drafting documents, and doing research. Paralegals do not practice law but instead, work in a support capacity. Here are some simple steps you can take to become a paralegal.
1. Complete a Paralegal Program
To become a paralegal, you should complete an accredited degree program. This can be either an associate degree program for two years or a bachelor’s degree program for four years. A paralegal education should include classes on ethics, legal research, interviewing, the legal system, procedural law, and computer skills.
2. Gain Legal Experience
Many paralegal students are able to complete an internship at a criminal law firm in Columbia MD during their studies. This will help you narrow down the area of law you would like to specialize in. This could be corporate law, real estate, criminal law, healthcare, or intellectual property, among others. Working at a law firm before graduation will allow you to build your resume, which will be important once you start applying to full-time jobs.
3. Earn Paralegal Certification
No state has a formal requirement for paralegal certification. This means you are not required to become certified in order to get a job, although it can be helpful to have on your resume. If you do decide to take a certification exam, there are several available through various professional organizations.
4. Apply for Jobs
Finally, you should consider which area of law is most interesting to you and start applying for jobs. If you decide not to work at a traditional law firm, there are many other options open to you, including corporations and government agencies.