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Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies.Education
There are several paths a person can take to become a paralegal. Candidates can enroll in a community college paralegal program to earn an associate’s degree. However, many employers prefer, or even require, applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Because only a small number of schools offer bachelor’s and master's degrees in paralegal studies, applicants typically have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and earn a certificate in paralegal studies.
Associate’s and bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies usually offer paralegal training courses in legal research, legal writing, and the legal applications of computers, along with courses in other academic subjects, such as corporate law and international law. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for people who already hold college degrees.
Employers sometimes hire college graduates with no legal experience or legal education and train them on the job. In these cases, the new employee may have experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such tax preparation, nursing, or criminal justice.Other Experience
In many cases, employers prefer candidates who have at least 1 year of experience in a law firm or other office setting. In addition, a technical understanding of a specific legal specialty can be helpful. For example, a personal-injury law firm may desire a paralegal with a background in nursing or health administration.
Work experience in a law firm or other office setting is particularly important for people who do not have formal paralegal training.
Many paralegal training programs offer an internship, in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a private law firm, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a corporate legal department, a legal aid organization, or a government agency. Internship experience helps students improve their technical skills and can enhance their employment prospects.Certifications
Although not required, some employers may prefer to hire applicants who have completed a paralegal certification program. Many national and local paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to students able to pass an exam. Other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications for paralegals who meet certain experience and education criteria. For more information about paralegal certifications, see the More Info section.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney.
Computer skills. Paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support. They also use computer programs for organizing and maintaining important documents.
Interpersonal skills. Paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships. They must make clients feel comfortable sharing personal information related to their cases.
Organizational skills. Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time. They must adapt quickly to changing deadlines.
Research skills. Paralegals need good research and investigative skills to conduct legal research.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Immigration Paralegal
Top Careers After Immigration Paralegal
Hispanic or Latino22.5%
Black or African American0.7%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
George Washington University7.1%
New York University6.0%
George Mason University6.0%
University of San Diego4.8%
Florida International University4.8%
Montclair State University4.8%
University of Central Florida3.6%
California State University - East Bay3.6%
University of California - Berkeley3.6%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Immigration Paralegal||O'Brien Law LLC||Washington, DC||Dec 07, 2011||$71,000 -
|Senior Family Immigration Paralegal/Coordinator||The Law Offices of David E. Piver||Wayne, PA||May 05, 2015||$67,517|
|Immigration Paralegal||Mount Sinai Medical Center||New York, NY||Feb 27, 2010||$61,800|
|Immigration Paralegal||Jackson Lewis LLP||White Plains, NY||Sep 20, 2012||$60,523|
|Senior Executive Immigration Paralegal||The Kramer Immigration Firm LLC||Silver Spring, MD||Sep 23, 2014||$60,008|
|Immigration Paralegal||Cornerstone Law Group-Employment Immigration||San Francisco, CA||Mar 22, 2016||$56,909|
|Business Immigration Paralegal||Liskow & Lewis, APLC||Houston, TX||Oct 24, 2016||$56,680|
|Immigration Paralegal||Cornerstone Law Group-Employment Immigration||San Francisco, CA||Jun 28, 2016||$55,000|
|Immigration Paralegal||Cornerstone Law Group-Employment Immigration||San Francisco, CA||Mar 22, 2016||$55,000|
|Senior Immigration Paralegal||O'Brien & Van Stiphout LLC||Washington, DC||Dec 07, 2009||$55,000|
|Tigrinya Fluent Immigration Paralegal||Mark I Davies, ESQ.||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2011||$52,885 -
|Senior Immigration Paralegal||O'Brien & Van Stiphout LLC||Washington, DC||Dec 07, 2010||$52,000 -
|Immigration Paralegal||Sindell Law Offices, P.C.||New York, NY||May 04, 2015||$48,589|
|Immigration Paralegal||Baker & McKenzie, LLP||Washington, DC||Mar 01, 2014||$48,298 -
|Immigration Paralegal||Baker & McKenzie LLP||Washington, DC||Mar 01, 2014||$48,298 -
|Immigration Paralegal||Cornerstone Law Group-Employment Immigration||San Francisco, CA||Jun 06, 2016||$47,688|
|Immigration Paralegal||Greenberg Traurig, LLP||Atlanta, GA||Sep 30, 2013||$44,500|
|Immigration Paralegal||Greenberg Traurig, LLP||Atlanta, GA||Oct 21, 2013||$44,500|
|Immigration Paralegal||O'Brien Law LLC||Washington, DC||Oct 18, 2011||$42,000 -
|Immigration Paralegal||Hilton Law Group, APC||Pasadena, CA||Jan 09, 2016||$41,740|
|Business Immigration Paralegal||Law Offices of David Z. Su||West Covina, CA||Jan 09, 2016||$41,740|
|Immigration Paralegal||Law Offices of Laura Leibfreid, PLLC||New York, NY||Dec 01, 2014||$40,000|
|Immigration Paralegal||Seowoo Law Group LLC||Auburn, AL||Jul 10, 2016||$39,915|
|Tigrinya Fluent Immigration Paralegal||Mark I Davies, ESQ.||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2011||$38,568 -
|Immigration Paralegal||Law Offices of Feng & Associates, P.C.||NY||Sep 10, 2014||$38,272|
|Business Immigration Paralegal||Levin Santalone LLP||Larchmont, NY||Mar 18, 2016||$38,168|
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