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AWARD OFFERED Associate in Applied Science Degree
Admission Requirements and Curriculum
Paralegals—also called legal assistants—are assuming a growing range of tasks in the nation’s legal offices.
One of a paralegal’s most important tasks is helping lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. Paralegals may investigate the facts of cases and ensure that all relevant information is considered. They may also identify appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to assigned cases. Paralegals may prepare written reports, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, obtain affidavits, and assist attorneys during trials. Paralegals also organize and track files of all important case documents and make them available and easily accessible to attorneys.
Additionally, paralegals perform a number of other vital functions including drafting contracts, mortgages, separation agreements, and instruments of trust. Some paralegals coordinate the activities of other law office employees and maintain financial office records.
Paralegals are found in all types of organizations, but most are employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, and various government offices. In these organizations, they can work in many different areas of the law, including litigation, personal injury, corporate law, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, labor law, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate.
Employment is projected to grow through 2014. Employers are trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks formerly carried out by lawyers. Experienced, formally-trained paralegals should have the best employment opportunities.
Earnings of paralegals and legal assistants vary greatly. Salaries depend on education, training, experience, the type and size of employer, and the geographic location of the job. In addition to earning a salary, many paralegals receive bonuses. In May 2012, full-time wage and salary paralegals and legal assistants had median annual earnings, including bonuses, of $46,990. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)
June Brooks, Department Chair