When you say paralegal, it simply refers to an individual who assists lawyers when it comes to legal works. Because of this, paralegals are often known as legal assistants or lawyer assistants. Their main role is to provide assistance to attorneys in all aspects of their tasks and responsibilities. For this reason, paralegals are considered as the most vital members of a legal team. This is in view of the fact that they portray a very important part in all legal procedures. It is also part of their duty to work directly with the solicitors as well as barristers.
Typically, those students who were granted with paralegal certification have the greater advantage to improve their skill to play a part in a lively and promising career. As a matter of fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that there will be an increasing growth of about 28% in the paralegal job opportunities by 2018. This is a result of the growing demand in business along with the expanding growth of the population. It is therefore expected that both professionals and students will definitely find rewarding job opportunities and growth in the paralegal line of work. Aside from that, those paralegals that have undergone formal training and with paralegal certificate will surely obtain the best job potentials in the future.
What is Paralegal Certification?
When you hear the term certification, what usually comes into your mind? Well, certification is a form of procedure wherein a private or non-governmental organization grants credit and acknowledgment to an individual who have gone through specific examinations to obtain preset requirements or conditions recommended by such organization or association.
Others view paralegal certification as a method that shows a professional dedication to companies and acknowledges mastery of knowledge and abilities of a certain person in the field. The skills and know-how of a certain individual is tested by means of paralegal certification examinations which are composed of tests on familiarity on legal processes, significant state rulings and principles. They also check and assess the oral and writing abilities of an aspirant so as to confirm a paralegal since good communication skills is very necessary in the job of paralegal. There are several duties and responsibilities that should be performed by a paralegal. These tasks usually include filing legal papers or documents, organizing case papers, interviewing witness, and others.
The majority of paralegals obtain their professional titles just after several years of experience. Paralegal certification serves as a great help for the paralegals to develop further their professional standing, income possibilities and employment options. Although having a paralegal certification is really not obligatory for paralegals, being certified will facilitate in much better opportunities and a brighter future, of course. This includes skill improvement, aptitude, salary increase, greater communication skill, professional ethics, professional writing abilities, and many more.
What is the Job of a Paralegal?
Usually, paralegals perform much of the works of the lawyers except when it comes to giving legal counsel, imposing legal fees and charges, and also trying cases in the court. In most cases, paralegals are the ones who assist the attorneys in preparing the things needed for the legal proceedings such as looking for court case examples, legal articles, and laws that have something to do with the case.
Usually, a person with paralegal certification is responsible for preparing reports, motions, affidavits, etc. During the proceedings of the case, it is also the job of the paralegal to trace and sort out files to make them available to lawyers for easy access and reference. Moreover, paralegals also sketch out credits, separation arrangements and contracts. Besides, they could also aid in building trusts funds, setting up assets and planning tax returns. But it really depends on the system of the law office on what tasks or duties are handled by the paralegals. They may perform office functions based on the office setup.
What Skills Are Required?
At present, it is of the essence that paralegals with paralegal certification must be computer-savvy. This is in view of the fact that the job of a paralegal often involves the use of different software for storing and recovering legal facts and information, to monitor office activities and to analyze some case documents.
It is also important that paralegals with paralegal certification have strong research skills as well as communication skills. Since they will be outlining some legal documents very often, paralegals should be able to put well into writing without any errors the information needed for the paper or document. It is also necessary that the paralegal should be well-organized to smooth the progress of the works of lawyers especially in handling all the legal information and keeping track of all the office procedures and activities.
It is therefore necessary that those students who get paralegal certification must be really interested in the legal field. It is essential for someone who will take up a career in paralegal to have high interest in legal processes and in assisting others to pass through legal actions. This is the key to a successful paralegal career. Being a paralegal, most of your time will be dedicated to researching court decisions, laws and legal articles. So, if you want to be successful in this field, you really need to enjoy holding your attention in the law.
How to Get Certified?
Having a paralegal certification is a very worthwhile thing to have. It is not really hard to obtain a paralegal certification. However, it really takes a great deal of hard work, dedication, time, and devotion to complete the entire certification process. There are several paralegal certification n programs that are provided by different schools and educational institutions ranging from private colleges and universities to public community colleges or educational centers. In general, private colleges and universities offer four years program for paralegal certification while community colleges offer two years program for the same course. Meanwhile, there are some colleges today that offer online paralegal certificate classes.
If you want to get paralegal certification, you must understand that you can obtain it from different certification programs such as a Master’s program, an associate certification program, and post-baccalaureate program. All of the official documents and credentials of paralegals is provided in certifications. Typically, the paralegal certification is acquired only via college degree courses. Lastly, paralegal certification is the best way to attain further career growth in the legal field.
Even though getting paralegal certification is really not a requisite, it is still highly suggested that you get one in order to ensure your career advancement in this kind of profession. Here are the popular certifications available for paralegals:
- NALA or National Association of Legal Assistants – This is simply referred to as a non-profit organization which is focused on offering different services to legal assistants or paralegals. The main program assumed by this organization is composed of educational classes, occupational research and paralegal certification.
- CLA or Certified Legal Assistant – The certificate needed in order to be considered as a certified paralegal is given by National Association of Legal Assistants. This organization is pioneered by Oklahoma who started sponsoring certification exams in 1976. In fact, the organization has issued certification for more than 15,000 paralegals and has given title of certified legal assistant or certified paralegal.