If you have the desire to work in law, earning an associate’s degree in paralegal studies is a great way to start working towards that career goal.
What Students Usually Assume About Working in Law
You don’t necessarily have to go to law school in order to work in the legal field. Many students may not have the desire to become a lawyer. To become a working attorney, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree (any discipline is acceptable, but legal studies, history, English, or philosophy are preferred) take the LSAT and earn a good score, obtain letters of recommendation, then apply for admission to the law schools of your choosing. Once you’ve completed all law school requirements, you’ll then need to pass the bar exam in the state you plan to work in.
The bar exam is a test that aspiring legal professionals need to pass in order to legally practice law in their state. Depending on which state you choose to take the bar exam, you’ll be restricted to practice law in that state, but you can handle federal cases in any state. So, if you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, it’s best to be 100% settled on where you’re going to live unless you plan to take the bar exam in multiple states, which some people actually do.
Other Ways to Work in Law without Spending So Much Time in College
There is a way to work in the field of law without being restricted to living in one state. Working as a paralegal gives you the flexibility to work anywhere in the United States. Granted, there are some states that may require different requirements, but they won’t be as binding as practicing attorneys may be.
Many students earn their degree in one state only to land their career in another. That is quite common, as young professionals often have to sacrifice location for the sake of jump-starting a career. In most cases, the job may pay for relocation costs. If they do not, then you may be able to write your relocation fees off on your annual taxes.
Working as Paralegal in Miami
If you’re looking to work as a Paralegal in the Miami area, there are plenty of paralegal degree programs that you can enroll in. However, it is important that you choose the right one. Law firms are looking for the most qualified paralegal assistants to help them manage their workload, whether it’s managing multiple cases or one large litigation case, it’s all relevant. A good paralegal will have the knowledge and expertise to work in any area of the law. This is what makes the career of a paralegal exciting.
The Freedom of Being a Paralegal
Paralegal responsibilities involve investigating and gathering the facts and law of a case. This often entails conducting extensive research and being just as knowledgeable about the law as a practicing attorney is. While the attorney is consulting with clients, the paralegal will take the information that the attorney has collected and organize it in such a way where the lawyer can use it as evidence in a court of law.
Other Responsibilities of a Paralegal
The role of the paralegal varies depending on where you work. It could be for a large law firm, a private practice, the government, or community service. Each of these roles will have a different job description. Some paralegals may embody the role of a legal secretary. Others may take on the role of assisting the practicing attorney with filing exhibits, briefs, and reviewing trial transcripts. You might be expected to draft affidavits and other legal documents like a will, mortgages, and other binding contracts.
There are many ways to acquire documentation stating that you can practice as a paralegal. However, not all of these programs will be the best choice. Some might work well for those who are already working in law in the form of continuing education credits. However, for those who have no knowledge in the field of law, finding an accredited college that offers a degree in paralegal studies will be the smartest investment you can make as a student.
What Florida National University Offers
Florida National University (FNU) is an accredited higher learning institution located in South Florida with two major campus locations in Miami and Hialeah, Florida. The Associates of Arts in Paralegal Studies that we offer requires a minimum of 60 credit hours of learning courses that are related to the American legal system. General requirements include credit hours for communication courses, humanities, behavioral, social, and natural sciences, math, and computers. The core requirements include two terms of Legal Research and Writing while learning the professional ethics and liability for paralegals, and civil procedure. Students will be required to take at least 9 credit elective hours of the following courses:
- Contracts and Business Entities
- Business Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Introduction to Torts
How Long Does it Take to Complete FNU’s Paralegal Degree Program?
FNU’s Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies will take approximately 2 years to complete, although some students have finished as early as 20 months. You can expect to pay $31,500 in tuition and fees with books and supplies costing roughly $2,000. FNU has a great financial aid department that can assist you in getting the aid you need to pay for your college education. To learn about getting financial assistance at FNU, read our article, “College with the Best Financial Aid Opportunities in Miami” here.
There are plenty of job opportunities for a paralegal in the Miami area. The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% employment growth for Paralegals and legal assistants. Much of this can be attributed to attorneys choosing to open their own practice and hiring Paralegals instead of managing partners to help run their firm.
So if you’re ready to get a jumpstart on your career as a paralegal, start by getting a quality education from an accredited university. Contact an FNU advisor today.