Online Paralegal Studies

Paralegals are trained to perform many of the tasks as an attorney, but they serve as legal assistants to help with case preparation, legal research and even conducting interviews. You can major in paralegal studies at an accredited college or university, or complete a paralegal studies certification program to serve as a paralegal across a variety of specializations. Even though a certificate in paralegal studies is not required, most attorneys and law firms do prefer that their paralegals have completed a formal training program.

These programs help students become professionals in their field, learn about abiding by a strict code of ethics, and also give students a chance to use various types of legal software and research methods when extracting information from legal databases.

Getting a Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Many people choose to become a paralegal instead of a lawyer so that they don't have to go through three years of law school after getting a bachelor's degree in the field. Paralegals still provide legal services to the public or companies, but work under the supervision of an attorney and are not permitted to provide legal counsel. A certificate in paralegal studies or a paralegal studies degree program can help a student develop and sharpen their research and writing skills, complete an internship at a law office or a legal organization, and also gain some valuable firsthand knowledge and skills for their career.

It's important to note that paralegal studies are not prelaw degree programs. Students interested in becoming lawyers can still apply for law school at a later date, but having a certificate in paralegal studies or majoring in paralegal studies will not guarantee a student placement in law school.

Completing Paralegal Studies Online

Students who prefer a more accelerated format and those who want more flexibility with their schedule may consider completing their paralegal studies online. Online colleges and schools can provide a similar scope of coursework as an offline school, but the courses may be more condensed and the students will have the opportunity to work at their own pace. If you are considering completing your paralegal studies online, make sure that the school is accredited and has a good reputation. Your future employers will look at the type of certification program you have completed, and may or may not hire you based on the quality of education or training you've received.

Many students choose to complete paralegal studies online so that they can enter the workforce after seven to 17+ months. The courses typically cover all of the key areas of study as an associate's degree program, but are shorter in nature.

Core courses in paralegal studies, both online and offline, typically include:

  • Legal Contracts
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Professional Responsibility and Legal Ethics
  • Torts and Personal Injury
  • Criminal Law
  • Business Law and Bankruptcy
  • Wills, Trusts and Estates
  • Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights
  • Domestic Relations
  • Constitutional Law
  • Public Communications Law
  • Legal Document Preparation
  • Laws of Evidence

Online course formats in paralegal studies education programs typically require students to watch web-based lectures, download materials, participate in discussion groups and collaborate with students over the web for various projects.