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What To Do Now? Paralegal Career Training

by Karen Jo Shapiro
Online Education Columnist

Do you have an interest in the law? Are you detail-oriented and good at following directions? Retraining as a paralegal could be an interesting path for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for paralegals is expected to continue to grow at a rapid rate as companies try to cut down costs and opt for using paralegals over lawyers for their legal needs.

Online paralegal training courses can provide classes to improve your skills for this in-demand occupation.

Paralegal Career Skills

Do you want to be involved in legal matters, but aren't interested in the full law school curriculum? Becoming a paralegal may be a good alternative. Paralegals directly assist attorneys with their cases, doing much of the research and preparatory work, and often some of the analysis. Paralegals are detail-oriented, good at research, task-focused, and careful. They understand how to read legal materials and communicate with lawyers. Other career skills of paralegals include writing clarity, data management, and following directions. As a paralegal, you might be involved in many aspects of a case, but you wouldn't present before a court or give actual legal advice.

Paralegals are found in all areas of law, from civil cases to criminal. Environmental law is an important and growing field, as are elder issues and health care.

Career Advice for Paralegals

What does it take to become a paralegal? There are many routes to this occupation including a two-year education at a community college, experience in the field, or a four-year liberal arts degree. Online paralegal training courses can be another way to improve your skills in order to work in the legal field. It is often important to get some "hands on" training with a lawyer who can supervise and oversee your work. If you have always been attracted to the legal field and are a hard worker with an eye for detail, perhaps becoming a paralegal could be a good match for you.

Karen Jo Shapiro is a psychologist who specializes in leadership and career development in addition to personal coaching. She is the owner of Your Next Steps Coaching and is on adjunct faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC. She leads workshops for women on achieving their dreams through action planning, and also on powerful connections through networking. Karen Jo has undergraduate degrees in English and Spanish from Colby College and a Psy.D. from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She has published two books of humorous poetry for children.