Law is a broad area of study and practice. Law firms tend to specialize in specific areas of law, such as immigration, family, real estate, criminal defense, probate, and civil. Institutions, like FNU, that offer paralegal programs encourage their students to take electives in various areas of law. This will not only allow students to identify a discipline that they are interested in but ensures their preparedness to work in any law firm. Some of the more common specializations for paralegals are discussed below.
Real Estate Paralegals
Real estate paralegals are entrusted with the accurate and timely completion of the transactional documents pertaining to the sale, purchase, and lease of real property. For instance, reviewing titles and contractual documents to identify fraudulent transactions and verify the accuracy of all financial calculations. They also maintain correspondence between the parties involved and guarantee that the necessary timelines are respected. In cases of boundary or zoning disputes, paralegals help clients understand their options and discuss the steps to be taken when verifying that all matters are settled fairly.
Immigration paralegals usually work under the supervision of immigration lawyers in law offices, non-profit organizations, or governmental agencies. They assist with the completion and submission documents regarding visas, asylum, and/or fighting deportation. This career is ideal for individuals who are capable of multitasking and driven by helping marginalized immigrants. It is a document-driven, but emotionally rewarding career. Unlike other specializations, immigration paralegals are permitted to work independently as entrepreneurs; so long as their work is limited to the completion of documents, they will not face criminal charges for the unauthorized practice of law.
Family Law Paralegals
Family law paralegals work under the supervision of attorneys specializing in domestic relations, such as divorce, child abuse, child custody, child support, alimony, and adoptions. The primary role of a family law paralegal will focus on preparing pleadings, drafting motions, conducting intake interviews, organizing files, and managing the correspondence between clients, opposing counsel, and the courts. While this discipline tends to be emotionally-tolling when children are involved, it does provide a strong sense of accomplishment. Like immigration law, paralegals can work independently, without the supervision of an attorney, so long as their work is limited to the completion of basic family-law documents.
Criminal Law Paralegals
Paralegals who are drawn to a fast-paced, limelight, work environment would be a perfect fit for a criminal defense firm. Other opportunities can be found with state and federal government agencies. The primary responsibilities include the intake interview, which will, from time to time, require them to be conducted inside jails or prisons. Drafting legal memos, motions, and assisting with trial preparation are the typical tasks assigned to paralegals. Working in the criminal field does require an ability to remain free from bias or judgment, as defendants are always presumed to be innocent.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of the specialization, becoming a paralegal is an excellent way to begin your career in the legal profession. The discipline that’s right for you will become evident as you complete programmatic courses. Or, if all of them are equally appealing, then you have the option to work for larger firms that have in-house attorneys specializing in all areas of the legal profession. If you are ready to kick-start your journey into this fascinating career as a paralegal, then Florida National University is for you! Get in touch with FNU today at 305-821-3333 for more information about our university and legal programs.
Future Possibilities Beyond the Associate’s Degree
Earning an Associate of Arts degree and becoming a paralegal is just the beginning. Upon graduating with your associate in arts degree, you will most likely find yourself yearning to continue your education and pursue other career opportunities. At FNU we are ready to meet that challenge. The Bachelor’s in Legal Studies will not only advance and fine-tune your legal skills, but it will also catapult you to the next level. For example, gaining admission to law school, working with in-house counsel at Fortune 500 companies, or pursuing a graduate degree in a huge array of disciplines, like human resources, quality assurance, business, public administration, and criminal justice. While the Associate’s begins your legal career, the bachelor’s degree advances it. Our department head, faculty members, and admission representatives are ready and eager to discuss the world of opportunities that await.