I've always been interested in law but couldn't afford a law degree. I think the best way would be to become a paralegal but I've been unsuccessfull in finding an online paralegal degree program. I live in a very rural city the nearest city is over an hour away any recommendations for an online program? #paralegal
A paralegal is a lawyer's assistant who helps a lawyer prepare for a meeting or a trial. This preparation may include researching facts or laws and writing reports used during the case. An associate's or bachelor's degree is required, depending on the employer. Students in associate's and bachelor's degree programs take a basic core of general education courses in English, math, science, and social studies as well as the required courses for paralegal work. Some employers may also require on-the-job training or professional certification. Most certificate programs are for people who have an associate's or bachelor's degree in another area. A few require applicants to have a specified number of college credit hours plus experience in the area of law. Certificate programs only include courses pertinent to paralegal work and do not include general education courses.
PARALEGAL DEGREE PROGRAMES IN TENNESSEE
Jane, Below you'll find two colleges and a university in Tennessee offer a broad array of paralegal programs for students interested in earning a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. Hopefully this will provide some key information so that you can make an informed choice.
ROANE STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Offers a two-year, American Bar Association (ABA)-approved Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in Paralegal Studies.
WALTERS STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE – The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Business-Paralegal Studies at Walters State Community College includes a curriculum that has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) as a qualified paralegal training program. The program is designed to teach students to perform paralegal tasks such as legal research, client interviews, document preparation, and case management.
UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS – The University of Memphis offers a Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) degree with a concentration in Legal Studies. The plan of study includes 54 credit hours of coordinated study (major) courses in legal studies, law-related electives, and interdisciplinary electives.
PARALEGAL CAREER OUTLOOK & SALARY
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for the paralegal profession is pretty promising. It's projected to grow by 12% between 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average projected growth of 5% for all occupations. The average salary for a Paralegal in the United States is between $50,850 and $100,000 as of July 27, 2020. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on your actual Paralegal position. If you’re interested in a career that is growing faster than average, or if you possess the necessary skills and are interested in the legal profession, a career as a paralegal may be for you.
Hope this was Helpful Jane
You are wised to be concerned about finances! However, sometimes we have to make that investment in order to get to where we want to go. (I can't believe I just said that!)
Please proceed very cautiously! Not all Paralegal programs are created equally. There are certificate programs and Associate Degree programs as the two most common options. Some are more marketable than others, and, the "ABA-approved" Paralegal Programs tend to get you into the real world more successfully. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/
It's been a few years since I looked into this, but, at that time, the ABA required physical attendance for certain core courses. You can look at this Texas ABA approved program for an example - they require 4 classes be taken in-person. https://www.lonestar.edu/departments/paralegalstudies/2019-2020%20Paralegal%20Pamphlet.pdf
You want your education to be as rigorous as possible, because the legal field is extremely demanding! Also do whatever you can to stay on top of your technological skills. Join the available paralegal associations when presented with that opportunity (usually while in school), and get out in the community by participating in workshops, legal aid clinics, etc. Don't wait until you graduate to start getting your feet wet!
I hope this helps -best of luck!
My legal career has been focused within the tech field as corporate paralegal, contracts admin/manager (reviewing contracts), and currently in Legal Operations (implementing systems for the Commercial Legal team). Depending on the company these "titles" could fall under the "Paralegal". All 3 have been great opportunities and are important roles to support a legal team at a company.
It is possible to become a paralegal by working directly for a lawyer. This is the route I took. https://www.online-paralegal-programs.com/is-it-difficult-to-get-paralegal-certification/ . A Commercial Transaction attorney took me under their wing and I was able to learn on the job, which has some great benefits.
Shion recommends the following next steps:
I studied at Amarillo College (AC) in Texas (pre-2020 thus in-class was a requirement) but AC has since begun offering a fully online program.
There are two options: earn an applied arts and sciences associates degree in paralegal studies or a post-degree certificate (requires an associates or bachelors).
I earned my associates degree in general studies then the post-degree certificate in paralegal studies. Upon graduation, I was hired within 3 months as a contract writer with a health insurance company in Amarillo. After that three month fellowship, I landed at my current firm.
As other posters mentioned, there was the obligatory bottom-of-the-rung position first, but after one quick year, I moved to my current position as Operations Trainer.
I'm not working in the law department as my career development plan was originally written.
At the company I work for (Fortune 50 ranked), paralegal jobs are so competitive that it's not unusual for the applicants to have their law degree and some have an MBA. But there are positions open right now that require the skills and knowledge taught in the paralegal program.
I agree with other posters that you should not consider the school unless they are an ABA approved program (AC is ABA approved).
The takeaway is a paralegal degree or post-degree certificate comes with strong recommendation from me.
adam recommends the following next steps: