Paralegal Studies – Associate Degree
Paralegal Studies – Associate Degree

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What is a Paralegal? Legal Studies Career Paths

Formal Definitions Where would you find a definition of “paralegal” in your text? (Hint: download chapter 1 from Doc Sharing)

Formal Definitions The ABA defines a paralegal as “A person qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible; equivalent term is legal assistant.” (as cited in Cheeseman and Goldman, 2009, p. 4)

Formal Definitions Where would you find the official National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) definition? (Hint: go to, the NFPA website)

Formal Definitions “A paralegal is a person qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts as customarily, but not exclusively performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work.” (NFPA, 2002)

Formal Definitions Where would you find statutory definitions? (Hint: you can find a summary of state regulations at the NFPA website)

Find websites with State Laws You may start at NFPA where they have a State Regulation chartState Regulation chart (2009)

Putting It All Together What do the definitions have in common? What skills do you think a paralegal may need? What sots of career options might a paralegal pursue?

Paralegal Skills Organization Communication Analysis Commitment “People skills” Resourcefulness

Credentials Education: a paralegal may obtain a certificate, Associate Degree or a Bachelor degree (it is possible to go on to higher degrees in legal studies). Certification: A paralegal may fulfill the requirements to be certified through a professional association. Licensing: At this time, some states have licenses for certain tasks typical performed by a paralegal, but you do not need a license to work in a law office.

Ethics Paralegals must work under the supervision of an attorney and not commit Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) Paralegals are part of the legal team and must uphold the same ethical rules that apply to the lawyer (e.g. confidentiality)

Perks Job satisfaction “A recent report by Jobs Rated Almanac ranks legal assistants at number 11 out of a possible 250 professions. The ranking is based on dozens of factors including prestige, stress, pay and job security. Paralegals scored high in the areas of regular work hours and good salaries. Lawyers came in at number 60, due to the low scores in the areas of high stress and long hours.” (Paralegals outscore lawyers in job satisfaction, 2000) Career growth potential “The U.S. Department of Labor projects that this profession will continue to be among the fastest growing through the year 2014.” (Cheeseman and Goldman, p. 6) Salary and benefits “U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006–07 Edition. In May 2004, full-time paralegals had a median annual earnings, including bonuses, of $39,130.” (Cheeseman and Goldman, p. 6)

Questions Ask any questions or discuss any issues that may be on your mind.

Works Cited Cheeseman, H. R., and Goldman, T. F. (2009). The paralegal professional. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. NFPA, (2002). Paralegal Definition. Retrieved May 13, 2009 from 88 88 NFPA (2009)State Regulation Chart. Retrieved May13, 2009 from T_02_09.pdf Paralegals outscore lawyers in job satisfaction, (2000). Retrieved May 13, 2009 from Clipart from Microsoft Office was used and not cited in this presentation

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