How to Start a Career as a Paralegal

Starting a new career is exciting. But it can also be stressful. There is an array of careers to choose from and you must consider the best options for you and be prepared for the journey you will take. It will probably require some dedication and time, in order to start something new.

Conducting research on potential careers, and what tasks you like to do can guarantee success and help you avoid embarking on a career that is not suitable for you. And most importantly, it can guarantee you job satisfaction. And that’s what everybody is looking for.

A job as a paralegal might have never crossed your mind, but if you are a person who enjoys researching, analyzing documents and facts, using the computer, and if you have great organizational skills, looking into a career as a paralegal is worth your time.

What exactly does a paralegal do?

Paralegals assist lawyers in their daily tasks. Because paralegals don’t have to pass the bar, as lawyers do, they have a shorter and quicker path to a job in the legal field. According to O*NET OnLine, common tasks for paralegals include preparing legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, and real estate closing statements; meeting with clients and other professionals to discuss details of their cases; preparing for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits; preparing affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organizing and maintaining documents in a paper or electronic filing system; and investigating facts and law of cases and searching pertinent sources, such as public records, to determine causes of action and to prepare cases.

Sounds interesting, right? You will be able to learn about and investigate cases, having an insider view of them. And you will also be responsible for gathering critical evidence to present in court, making you a vital asset for any lawyer when preparing for trials.

Paralegals need certain skills. People who have the ability to multitask, who can communicate well with team members and clients, and who have strong writing skills usually can thrive in this role. If these talents match yours and you can’t wait to start your career in the legal field, you should look into getting your degree to become a paralegal.

Things to consider before starting

A career as a paralegal brings many benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in 2014 was listed at 279,500, and the growth rate from 2014 to 2024 is estimated at 8% (which is as fast as average). Overall, job opportunities for paralegals are very promising, especially for those with the right skills and instruction.

Becoming a paralegal offers other paybacks as well, such as the opportunity to help others who are going through difficult situations. This can be a very rewarding experience. You will help lawyers prepare their winning arguments for court, gathering important information from witnesses and documents that can prove claims. You will also have to communicate with clients and handle their concerns about the case, with the attorney’s approval, which can often be a sensitive matter.

As a paralegal, you will be able to find jobs in multiple industries or even become self-employed, as an independent paralegal who contracts with attorneys. With wide job variety, the work environment will also be diverse. Common job settings for paralegals are law firms, non-profit agencies, corporations, and government agencies.

But there are also options in corporate and non-governmental organizations, which means that you can align your personal preferences with the job opportunities available. There are non-governmental organizations that work with many different causes, and these organizations can usually benefit from the work of skilled paralegals.

Working as a paralegal, you can expect a full-time commitment, or a workweek of 40 hours or more.

Education is the key to becoming a paralegal

First, you must choose a school offering proper certification in order to receive formal education, and satisfy California law, which governs paralegals. Most programs entail at least 24 semester hours of paralegal-specific courses. Gaining professional legal experience is the next vital step to beginning a career as a paralegal. Experience enables soon-to-be or new paralegals to learn an array of specialties in corporation legal departments, hospitals, banks, insurance and finance companies, government agencies, and more. Hands-on experience is something that employers are looking for, so be prepared to look for internships and start building a strong resume as soon as possible. Internships are the most common way to gain professional experience. And sometimes internships are offered as part of the education curriculum.

The next task on your list is earning professional certification. There are multiple certificate organizations (National Federation of Paralegal Associations, National Association of Legal Assistants, American Association of Paralegal Education, and American Bar Association) schools use to ensure their students can practice as a qualified paralegal.

Lastly, weighing your options and debating which area of law you fit into best will help when searching for employment.

Accreditation is important because employers look to certain accreditation to verify that you have acquired the necessary paralegal skills. The MTI Paralegal Associate Degree Program has been approved by the American Bar Association for over 20 years. At MTI, you will be prepared to work as a paralegal in many areas of law and successfully launch your career.

It’s important to remember that a well-rounded education is the key to better job opportunities and to achieving success in your daily activities. MTI College prepares students to successfully enter the legal world. One of the most crucial ways to do that is by learning from instructors who have years of experience working in the field and who can share experiences and insights that will help your training to become a paralegal.

The school has been an authority in vocational training for 50 years, and it offers efficient and convenient programs, knowledgeable and helpful instructors, and affordable tuition.
At MTI, class schedules are predetermined and guaranteed available, which means you can complete the paralegal program on time and launch your career fast. Class sizes are small, which improves the learning experience and encourages participation during classes.

Because modern life is full of activities and many students have to balance work and home life with going to college, MTI College offers flexibility to students as an added convenience. The second-year coursework for the Paralegal Degree Program is available in two learning formats: the traditional on-campus classroom format and the alternative OnlinePlus partial online format. These two formats are explained in more detail below.

Traditional On-Campus
MTI College’s Paralegal Program is Sacramento’s most established paralegal program and has been reinforced by the American Bar Association’s approval for over 20 years. If previously earned credits from MTI College’s Legal Administrative Assistant program or other institutions are accepted, the two-year Paralegal Degree Program is typically completed in as little as one year.

For individuals bypassing the first year due to qualifying transfer credits, the second year of the program is broken into four quarters. Each quarter consists of three courses taken in a conventional classroom environment. This degree prepares students to work under the supervision of attorneys by honing their logical, analytical, and critical-thinking abilities, as well as their communication and problem-solving skills. Upon graduation, MTI’s staff of experienced legal professionals will make every effort to get you hired immediately.

To accommodate even more motivated learners, MTI College offers its Paralegal Associate Degree Program in an OnlinePlus alternative delivery format. This partial online format is offered for the second-year coursework and is administered through an online Course Management System. The OnlinePlus program is broken into four quarters consisting of three courses: two online and one conducted in the conventional classroom environment. This allows students completing the second year of the Paralegal Degree Program to attend only one course on campus, one night a week, while taking the other two courses via online learning.

The OnlinePlus format delivers the same course content as the traditional on-campus classroom format, featuring independent and team exercises designed to strengthen the same analytical and problem-solving skills. Whether you are on campus or on the computer, feedback and support are available to answer all of your questions.

A career as a paralegal offers endless prospects. Before you begin, however, it’s crucial to obtain the proper formal education to become a qualified paralegal who meets California legal requirements. If you want to find out more, click here and discover how to start your career in the legal profession.

Want to learn more about MTI’s programs?

Our admissions team will help you find the perfect program to meet your goals. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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