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With an average salary in Philadelphia of more than $60,000, paralegal degrees are becoming increasingly popular in today’s workforce. But what exactly does a paralegal do?

Most people assume that a paralegal is simply an assistant to a lawyer, but there is much more to the job that should be considered before investing your time and money into pursuing a paralegal career.

About Paralegals

Paralegals engage in a variety of legal activities, including:

  • Conducting client interviews and maintaining general contact with the client
  • Locating and interviewing witnesses
  • Conducting investigations, and statistical and documentary research
  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Summarizing depositions, interrogations, and testimony
  • Attending real estate closings, depositions, court, or administrative hearings, and trials with attorneys
  • Assisting attorneys with trial preparation

If these activities interest you, then you may want to learn more about becoming a paralegal. To help you get started, let's review the general steps required to become a paralegal.

Education

Becoming a paralegal typically requires formal education. Paralegals are required to know many of the same topics as attorneys. In many cases, employers prefer candidates who have earned their credentials from a program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

So, how do you choose the right program? Should you get an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a post-baccalaureate certificate?

It depends. First, if you already possess a bachelor’s degree and want to become a paralegal, you can select a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate to prepare for your career. If you have an associate degree, you can consider earning a bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies, especially one that allows you to apply your transfer credits toward your new degree. If you are just starting out, you can consider an associate degree in Paralegal Studies, especially one that articulates directly into a bachelor’s program.

Next, you should think about the environment you want to work in. Do you want to work for a law firm, a corporate legal department, a financial institution, a health organization, a community outreach program, a government agency, or something else? Or, is law school part of your future plan?

Do your research. Paralegal associations can typically provide you with information on potential career paths.

Paralegal Studies at Peirce College

Paralegal Studies programs at Peirce are approved by the ABA and provide you with both the solid foundation and credentials required for a successful career as a paralegal. Our programs focus on legal research and writing, civil litigation, contract law, tort law and criminal law, professional legal responsibility, and legal technology.

The associate degree in Paralegal Studies also includes a capstone experience as well as additional requirements in general education and electives. It is a 61-credit program and allows for up to 30 transfer credits. 

The bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies includes everything in the associate program as well as courses in family law, real estate law, business organizations, and advanced courses in legal research and technology. It is a 121-credit program and allows for up to 90 transfer credits. 

The post-baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal Studies is designed for students who already possess a bachelor’s degree and includes courses on legal research and writing, civil litigation, contract law, tort law and criminal law, professional legal responsibility, and legal technology. It is a 25-credit certificate.

Each program is designed around the unique needs of working adults and is completed through a combination of online and on-campus classes, which allows you to earn your degree on your schedule.

Students can also earn credit for professional and military training and college-level knowledge gained outside the traditional classroom. Peirce has created affordable, degree completion pathways that make it possible for you to complete your bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies for about $22,000.

Getting a Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 15% through 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

At Peirce, our internship program provides an exciting opportunity for you to gain valuable workplace experience outside the classroom. Once you have completed your education credentials, contact your local professional paralegal association to find job opportunities in your area. These organizations can be a great resource for paralegal professionals. You should also determine if your state requires any additional certification beyond earning a degree or certificate. In Pennsylvania, this type of certification is voluntary and not required for employment.

If you select one of the ABA approved paralegal programs at Peirce, you will also have access to our Career and Professional Development counselors, who will guide you through the process of finding the right paralegal opportunities for you.

To take the next step, contact our Admissions Team or apply today.

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