How to Become a Paralegal

Paralegals play a critical role in our legal system today, working under the supervision of attorneys to prepare documents, provide support and assist with research and investigations. Because paralegals and legal assistants are so important, their employment opportunities are expected to grow 8% by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’ve decided that a law career is right for you, here are some tips for attaining your Paralegal Certificate and how to become a paralegal.

Earn Your Degree and Certificate

Requirements to be a paralegal can differ depending on where you want to work, the law firm or organization you want to work for and the specialty you choose. Usually, it requires at least a two-year associate degree—but many of today’s paralegals continue on to earn their bachelor’s degree and certification. In addition to our Paralegal Certificate program, Peirce also offers both associate and bachelor’s degree programs, and they’re both American Bar Association-approved. If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, our Paralegal Certificate program is designed to give you the practical legal foundation and skills you’ll need for a successful career. It consists of 10 specialty courses that you can complete in a single academic year, and most of them are available online*, so your classes will fit into your busy schedule.

Develop the Proper Skills

Whether you work on them in a classroom or professional setting, there are specific skills that will help you become a successful paralegal. These include your ability to communicate clearly—in speech and writing—along with your organizational skills, ability to juggle multiple projects at the same time and your skills as a researcher. Additionally, you’ll need to be comfortable using computers and other electronic devices. If your computer skills are lacking, you should consider taking additional courses that focus on developing them. Speak with an academic advisor if you’re concerned about your computer literacy.

Get Experience Outside the Classroom

In addition to your in-classroom work, on-the-job training and experience are very important when it comes time to find a job as a paralegal. In fact, many law firms prefer to hire candidates with at least a year of real-world experience, which can come in the form of internships or entry-level work. As part of your certificate program at Peirce, you’ll have access to our Career Development Services counselors, who will help you find the right opportunities to earn the experience and training you’ll need to become a paralegal.

How to Become a Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal

Students can become Pennsylvania Certified Paralegals simply by applying to the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals and demonstrating a mastery of the education and experience requirements. You can learn more about the qualifications and requirements for becoming a Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal from the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations.

*As is required by the American Bar Association, at least 10 credits must be completed in a traditional on-campus format. Peirce College Paralegal students must therefore take at least 12 credits on campus.

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