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Information on Paralegal Certification

Paralegals are professionals that perform different kinds of legal tasks. Their basic responsibilities include writing briefs, conducting research and working under or with licensed attorneys. People usually confuse paralegals with legal assistants and secretaries. However, paralegals generally undergo more advanced levels of training. They are expected to complete a bachelor’s degree, as well as a post-baccalaureate paralegal certification program.

Undergraduate Certification Programs
Undergraduate paralegal certification programs are now available in most colleges and universities that offer legal and criminal justice programs. The interesting thing is that there are many online universities and colleges available today. This has brought an easier means of obtaining a certification for those who wish to make a career in paralegal studies.

Undergraduate certification programs are available for different educational levels, ranging from high school education to bachelor’s degrees. The curricula of most of the universities and colleges cover some basic courses involved in the legal system. However, more emphasis is laid on drafting legal documents and carrying out legal research. Fresh paralegal students are initially introduced to some major areas of criminology, such as, criminal law, torts, contracts and real estate.

Most employers prefer the idea of hiring legal assistants and paralegals in their firms. They emphasize more on hiring people that have completed a paralegal certification program.

Basic Requirements and Prerequisites
The admission requirements for paralegal degrees and programs vary from institution to institution. Some colleges may require high school diplomas or equivalents, while others may require a prior completion of an associate’s degree. Moreover, some universities might offer undergraduate programs for only those that are currently undergoing a bachelor’s program. The entire study period can last for about 3 to 4 years.

Coursework
Paralegal certification programs give students a solid foundation in the criminal justice field. Students get a clear understanding of the basic concepts and terminology involved. The basic coursework comprises of:

• Legal Terminology
• Introduction to Law
• Legal Research
• Legal Writing
• Criminal Litigation
• Civil Litigation

Paralegal Post-Baccalaureate Certification
Post-baccalaureate certifications offer training sessions for the core skills expected of a paralegal. Additionally, the training also covers paralegal advice and job placement assistance. Students are also free to take up courses like common law and natural law, which allow them to be a part of legal teams in the future.

Basic Requirements and Prerequisites
Students are required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to gain admission into post-baccalaureate paralegal certification programs. Moreover, they must be proficient in spoken and written English, and must have a sound knowledge on the usage of computers and the internet.

Coursework
Paralegal post-baccalaureate certification programs are quite similar to undergraduate certification programs. Their coursework includes:

• Legal Technology
• Court Rules
• Discovery and Research
• Legal Ethics
• Etiquette of Law Offices

Future Outlook and Income
Paralegals are usually employed by private law organizations, government agencies, title insurance organizations, real estate firms, banks, insurance firms and corporate legal departments. Students with paralegal certification or degrees are always given a priority in such firms. In addition, the salary packages offered are always very impressive.

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