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Legal and Paralegal

Much of the work that goes into legal hearings, trials, and closings is delegated to legal assistants and paralegals. An attorney can save time and money by hiring someone to do the legwork while he or she assumes the responsibility of a case. Paralegals and legal assistants have held about 238,000 jobs annually in recent years, most of which were employed by private law firms. While most online programs concentrate on paralegal studies, you may be more interested in practicing law. In this case, exploring a Juris Doctor program would be advantageous. There are several routes to take if you want to market yourself in the legal profession, and online programs are very common for this type of degree.

Concentrations

Depending on the type of legal work you want to pursue, there are two major concentrations that will prepare you for a career in law:
Paralegal studies is designed for those who have a genuine interest in law but have no desire to become an attorney. Many online programs offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees as well as a certificate in paralegal.
Legal studies focuses on law but does not allow you to practice law. You will learn the ins and outs of American law that will enhance your business skills.
The Juris Doctor (JD) degree and Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) are a relatively new addition to online programs, but they do give you the education needed to actually practice law.
Other concentrations could include court reporting or legal secretarial work.

Qualities and Skills

Coursework for paralegals and legal secretaries may include legal preparation and the legal application of computers in addition to traditional academics found in arts and sciences (math, history, sociology, psychology, writing, etc.). Those earning a JD will need much more coursework, but they will also have to refine the following skills:
Analytical and critical thinking


Communication (both oral and written)

Critical reading
Management
Organizational
Problem solving
Research

Occupations

Paralegals, legal assistants, court reporters, legal administrative assistants, and legal secretaries sum up the positions in this field that are not licensed to practice law. These positions perform a variety of services including research and preparation of assorted documents, obtaining affidavits, assisting in court, and maintaining financial records. Only attorneys with a JD are licensed to practice law.

Earnings

The average salary for paralegals and legal assistants vary depending on degree and experience, as well as the area of law. The range of attorneys’ salaries also vary greatly depending upon a large number of factors including degree and experience, area of law, size of firm, location and more.