Studies & Degrees in Paralegal Studies
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What is a paralegal?
The term is used in many countries to refer to a non-lawyer who assists a lawyer in the performance of legal tasks. These legal tasks are usually specific assignments which only the lawyer is responsible by virtue of the latter being authorized by the country's rules of court. But not only a law firm employs a paralegal; many other corporations and agencies including the government and the court system also avail of the paralegal services by persons educated or trained to do such services. It has been reported that tens of thousands of paralegals are now gainfully employed around the world, with the profession still continuing to become as the fastest growing occupation of the decade, notwithstanding their educational background. Predictions further say that the paralegal profession will grow by from 22% to 28% in 2016, and faster than average, with more than 50% of graduates of paralegal courses dominating the legal profession.
Paralegalism has been in existence since four decades ago. It started when law firms first provided in-house training to experienced legal secretaries who were not yet known as paralegals, in various facets of the legal work. Whether it was known or not by those law firms, the training worked well. This was followed by the emergence of diversified paralegal educational programs to fully develop the potentials for not only the paralegal field but the education for the paralegal profession as well. Associations were also formed to help meet the need for, and maintain high standards of performance in the paralegal profession.
It is now important for those desiring to be paralegals that education and training--nay experience--are prerequisites of the profession. These education and training can be acquired from various reputable institutions that offer programs on Paralegal Studies. These programs are designed to educate students mostly in the areas of law and ethics, as well as in the fields of interviewing and investigation, legal research and writing, civil procedure, corporate and business law, intellectual property, English composition, speech communication , criminal law, family law, immigration law, computers and the law, and a number of other important subjects. Most institutions of higher learning offer these programs under a specific department or college, with courses leading to the bachelor's and associate degrees, or post-baccalaureate certificates, which are given to students who have already earned an associate or bachelor's degree in other subjects.
Graduates of Paralegal courses are now prepared to enter the profession or go to law schools to broaden their knowledge on law and ultimately become a lawyer. As graduates, they are now considered as able to think critically, having learned the knowledge in legal concepts and procedures necessary for a successful paralegal profession. At the least, they can now also be registered, certificated or certified in the country where they intend to be paralegals, and choose which type of paralegal work they want to perform. More important is the fact that soon they will be part of a profession that may dictate the success of the task specifically assigned to them, and help chart the course and the destiny of a nation's legal profession.