Looking into persuing paralegal degree.. lots of questions

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Michelle in Fremont, California

106 months ago

I think you would be fine with an associates degree. Really large firms may want someone with a bachelor's degree, but that's not a requirement for every employer. Getting your associates is enough.

Check job websites like careerbuilder, monster, or craigslist.org to see a sample of paralegal job listings in philadelphia.

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DG in San Diego, California

106 months ago

An associates is fine, but be sure to try to find an American Bar Association approved Paralegal Program.

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raul serratos in Los Angeles, California

104 months ago

how much money do i need to pay so i can go into a college where i could learn about criminal justice

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

If you are a paralegal working in Minnesota, and you would like to work in New York, are you able to just pack up your stuff and move to NY? or, are you going to need to take another bar exam for NY?

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

95 months ago

Paralegals do not take a Bar Exam, that is only for law school graduates who wish to become a licensed attorney in order to practice law. Some states may have a certification exam requirement; you should check the State's Bar Association website for the rules, if any, governing Paralegals.

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

What is commercial and federal litigation? How do you study for it? If you did study for it, what would you do?

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Heather in Tampa, Florida

95 months ago

Are there any paralegal trainee jobs in Tampa, Florida or surrounding area that will help me to get into the legal field and train me to become a paralegal?

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WOLI Graduate in Nanuet, New York

95 months ago

You may want to consider an excellent school, the Washington Online Learning Institute www.WOLI.com. I went there and it was really a great experience. I got a certificate from them and shortly afterward a couple of job offers. They are regionally accredited which is what you want to look for.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

95 months ago

Heather in Tampa, Florida said: Are there any paralegal trainee jobs in Tampa, Florida or surrounding area that will help me to get into the legal field and train me to become a paralegal?

Hello Heather in Tampa, FL-

I lived in Miami when the economy was doing well. I am pretty sure there are more lawyers in Miami than Tampa.

Anywho, the first job is always hard to get for most people. I got mine from a news paper ad. I had an ABA paralegal certificate and a B.A.

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Heather in Tampa, Florida

95 months ago

I have a B.A. in criminal justice but I dont have a ABA paralegal certificate. I do have some legal experience working in 2 law firms one was big and the other was a small one.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

95 months ago

Heather in Tampa, Florida said: I have a B.A. in criminal justice but I dont have a ABA paralegal certificate. I do have some legal experience working in 2 law firms one was big and the other was a small one.

Heather, Tampa - So, how did you like working in the law firms.

If you have a criminal justice B.A.- I do not suggest spending the money for a paralegal certificate. Teh economy is too bad - and they are only going to use those with experience.

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BarbN

95 months ago

To the contrary, in this economy law firms are looking to hire paralegals with certificates from regionally accredited schools, at least according to Legal Assistant Today magazine. There is still a rising need for paralegals as job opportunities increase all the time. A certificate from a regionally accredited school would be a very wise investment in the future.

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Heather in Tampa, Florida

95 months ago

Thank you Barb for spending a positive response.

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Heather in Tampa, Florida

95 months ago

I meant to say thank you Barb for sending a positive response.

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Heather in Tampa, Florida

95 months ago

Well thank you for the positive advice. I do appreciate it.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

95 months ago

BarbN said: To the contrary, in this economy law firms are looking to hire paralegals with certificates from regionally accredited schools, at least according to Legal Assistant Today magazine. There is still a rising need for paralegals as job opportunities increase all the time. A certificate from a regionally accredited school would be a very wise investment in the future.

Hello Barbn - So, you got your information and stats from "Legal Assistant Today". Well, for whatever it is worth - the real world is always different than what the magazine says.

Just curious - Are you a Paralegal BarbN???

To Healther - look in the Tampa Sunday newspaper for Paralegal jobs. ALso "The Dialy Business Review", a legal newspaper, has classified in back for all legal positions - that is where you get your information on the real world.
Thank you.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

95 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

"Give it a shot. Your law firm experience may give you an advantage. Criminal defense firms may like your degree."

I concur with DLP.

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

I'm still confused. If you have a Certified Paralegal degree from a MN school and you work in Minnesota, if you want to move to NY and be a Paralegal....Do you need to take another test for NY rules? I undersatnd that you don't take the Bar exam but do you need to take something else? OR, can I just pack up my stuff and move with my MN certified paralegal degree and live in NY and get a job?

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

How much money could you earn with a certified paralegal degree? How many types of law are there? How do you know which one to study?

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Leslie Sansone Williams in Port Orange, Florida

95 months ago

I agree with Joel re not paying an arm and a leg for a paralegal credential.

The lament I hear over and over again from new paralegal graduates (I'm a 15+ year veteran) is that they simply cannot break into the field and they want to know how I did it.

I'd like to hear from the experienced paralegals how each of you broke into the field. Was you hired directly into a paralegal position?

In the meantime, when you have a sec, visit:

www.legaledpro.com

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MN Guy in Bloomington, Illinois

95 months ago

To Jesse:
I remember looking into paralegal studies before choosing to go to law school instead. From what I remember, the pay was better for people with a B.A. in paralegal studies (or folks that coupled up a useful B.A ((for example, mine was in accounting)) with a paralegal certificate.

Programs should probobly be ABA accredited. I was thinking about Inver Hills (MN) when looking into it and remember that they had web classes (which are nice if you need to work).

Best of luck to you,
NP

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Leslie Sansone Williams in Port Orange, Florida

95 months ago

Displaced,

Thanks for your response.

You were definitely in the "right place at the right time". I've often counseled new paralegal grads that this type of entry into the field (your scenario) is completely possible.

Another way to break in is to work for a sole practitioner although the downside is that very often they do not offer benefits. This scenario also requires that one be a complete multi-tasker as the duties will be varied (that's an understatement!)

I began as a receptionist/legal secretary - also shopped for the groceries. I changed jobs frequently in order to not only raise my salary but to get the experience I wanted.

I ended up as senior paralegal for a very good firm specializing in automobile dealer franchise law. Yes, lots of politics, lots of quirky folks, however, I found the same atmosphere when I worked for a large corporation many moons ago in NJ. Big egos can cause people to do strange things!

Hope to hear from some more re how you broke into the paralegal field!

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

I have heard some people say that getting a BA degree in anything (Exp. Accounting) and then getting your certificate is a good idea (if you want to be a Paralegal). Now I’m in college and in progress to receive my AAS Certified Paralegal degree, and was thinking of going for my BA Paralegal degree. Is this a good plan? I’m currently working for a process serving company as an account representative and once finished with college I will have 3 years experience here and my AAS degree, why type of luck will I have after I graduate job wise? What is everyone’s opinion on my plan and my future for jobs? Is that a good plan?

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

From above...
(Im working for a LEGAL process service company)

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Heather Whitlow in Tampa, Florida

95 months ago

Jesse, do you enjoy working for a legal process service company? I have thought about working for a process service company here in Tampa.

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MN Guy in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

Jesse, from an HR perspective, three years is good. If you are thinking about a B.A., I would strongly reccomend getting it in something like accounting, finance, or computer science (if you really love math).

This would open up more practice areas for you and really, there is not that much more you could learn from a B.A. in paralegal studies. A B.A./B.S. is a good idea because if you ever burn out on being a paralegal, you could go to law school.

That's more or less what I decieded to do after one internship in the field.

Best of luck

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

Heather Whitlow in Tampa, Florida said: Jesse, do you enjoy working for a legal process service company? I have thought about working for a process service company here in Tampa.

Yes. I do enjoy working for this process serving company, it's very busy, need to be very organized, and your on the phone all the time meeting tons of different people from around the us.

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota: "I have heard some people say that getting a BA degree in anything (Exp. Accounting) and then getting your certificate is a good idea (if you want to be a Paralegal). Now I am in college and in progress to receive my AAS Certified Paralegal degree, and was thinking of going for my BA Paralegal degree. Is this a good plan?"

A B.A. in Paralegal would be redundant. Get a four-year degree in something else. I have a B.S.B.A. with an accounting major. I never used my accounting background until I got in law. At that point my accounting training was valuable.

"I am currently working for a process serving company as an account representative and once finished with college I will have 3 years experience here and my AAS degree, why type of luck will I have after I graduate job wise?"

I recall a student in my paralegal school who was a process server. Even with that experience you would still be an entry paralegal, but IMO process serving may catch a hiring manager's interest and propel you past the receptionist. It would certainly give you something to talk about at interviews, especially if you say that process serving spurred your interest in becoming a paralegal.

Thank you for your interest in my question. Now here's another question from me, I'm already enrolled in college to receive my AAS degree as a paralegal, quit? Also, what if I'm horrible at math, would there be any other type of BA to excel in? I really appreciate your comments! Thanks again for your opinion and input.

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

Another quick question, Im sorry! But what is the big deal with accounting and law? Why a B.A in accounting?

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota: "Thank you for your interest in my question. Now here's another question from me, I'm already enrolled in college to receive my AAS degree as a paralegal, quit?"

Why?

"Also, what if I'm horrible at math, would there be any other type of BA to excel in?"

Best answer I can give is a program that is not math-intensive. That would best be determined by your aptitude and interest.

Why? Should I get an AAS as a paralegal AND a B.A in accounting?

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

I guess it just sounds like a lot for wanting to be a Paralegal. I do want to excel with my career in everyway possible and will do whatever it takes to become an excellent Paralegal. What's the push for completing a four year degree in something other than a paralegal, only because when I finish an accounting degree for example it will make my paralegal job easier? What happened to study to become a paralegal, and become a paralegal? I'm sorry for all the questions, this stuff is new to me.

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Leslie Sansone Williams in Port Orange, Florida

95 months ago

Jesse,

What are the law firms in your area requiring? Is there a paralegal association in your area? If so, join as a student. Watch the ads in the paper or online for your area. This will give you great insight into what law firms in St. Paul are expecting in terms of education.

In my experience, a 2 yr. paralegal degree was perfectly fine. However, I've had other paralegals tell me that in their neck of the woods, it was expected that they have a B.A. I have a 2 yr. degree (not paralegal studies), a paralegal certificate and lots of experience. There have been positive comments made about the fact that I did get a 2 yr. degree (again, not in paralegal studies).

When I first started out, I landed a receptionist/legal secretary job. My technical skills (computer, typing, dictation) were excellent, so I adapted very quickly.

It's important to network with people in your area before you need a job. Join your local association and volunteer for a position on one of the committees. You'll never know how this might positively impact your job search later on.

Leslie
www.legaledpro.com
www.lesliestudios.com

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Jesse in Saint Paul, Minnesota

95 months ago

I'm 23 years old, pursuing my AAS degree as a paralegal, will graduate at the age of 25. How long and what would I need to do to become a lawyer?

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

95 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: You need a four-year degree to enter law school. I believe you also have to take an entrance exam, called the LSAT. Law school generally takes three years. You then have to take and pass the bar exam to become a licensed attorney.

So if I were to get my 2 year paralegal degree, could I then take a 2 year business degree and would that equal out to a 4 year? or would I need to take an entire 4 year degree with something AFTER I finish my paralegal degree? If that's the case, would it just be better for me to take the 4 year paralegal degree and then try to get into law school?

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

95 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Jesse, you can take a two year degree and transfer to a four-year school to finish your Bachelor's. Just be sure the four-year school to which you would transfer will accept most or all of your two-year's school's credits. If not, you may have to take more classes at your four-year school to finish your degree.

But if I finish my 2 year paralegal degree, and transfer to a 4 yr college or university, can I take the last of my bachelors degree if something different? or would it HAVE to be paralegal?

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

95 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Slight correction: You do have to take the LSAT for admission to law school. Go to this website for more information:

www.lsat.org/LSAT/about-the-lsat.asp

Where could I take sample practice questions for the LSAT?

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

95 months ago

I understand, but would it be a good start to practice a little? Just in case?

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

95 months ago

ok that sounds good. Thank you for your input, it's greatly appreciated.

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Tasha in Miami Beach, Florida

95 months ago

Hey there everybody... Im a college student who is just taking regular classes at this community college. Im looking forward to study Paralegal Studies/Legal Assistant... but Im not sure if Paralegal covers 2 years of Criminal Justice or any other Law subject. I know that to get into a Law school you need 4 years of Law (any type of Law) I would like to know if Paralegal covers it or not.....

thanks.

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

94 months ago

Quick question, I want to study personal injury and accident law. All of my classes in college for my paralegal degree are involved with real estate insurance law and other laws, but nothing has to do with personal injury. What should I do?

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Leslie Sansone Williams in Port Orange, Florida

94 months ago

Jesse,

As Displaced Legal Professional said, it's important to finish your courses and get your degree. Along the way you could also check to see if the James Publishing Company or any of the other legal publishing companies offer books on the subject.

I bought a set of books for paralegals which helped me with discovery years ago. It cost me over $100.00 at the time, but it was well worth it.

Also, check out the paralegal seminars put on by the Lorman company across the country. While the seminar will be an overview (you can't cover everything about the subject in 1 or 2 days), it will beneficial to you.

Hope this helps.

Leslie
www.legaledpro.com
www.lesliestudios.com

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

94 months ago

Jesse Horngren in Burnsville, Minnesota said: Quick question, I want to study personal injury and accident law. All of my classes in college for my paralegal degree are involved with real estate insurance law and other laws, but nothing has to do with personal injury. What should I do?

Personal injury is a tort, and it is litigation, as oneoe party sues another to recover damages, i.e. money. You will learn the litigation process in the class "civil procedure". If you have a class "introduction to law" you will learn the ever essential theory of "negligence"

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jessehorngren in Burnsville, Minnesota

94 months ago

I know that I shouldn't be doing this, but questions are good right? For those of you that don't know, I'm in college getting my paralegal degree right now. If I want to further my studies and finish my BA and end up going to law school, how does that work? Do you study one particular law? Does everyone in law school learn the same thing? Now I know that I need to take this schooling stuff one step at a time and I am, I'm just curious that's all.

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Margaret in Brainerd, Minnesota

93 months ago

So let me get all of you straight you recommend another degree besides your AAS degree in paralegal studies?

I have one year of paralegal studies behind me. So what are your suggestions for me? To go back and finish my AAS degree and get a four year degree ain accounting because that helps in the law field?

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Leslie Sansone Williams in Port Orange, Florida

93 months ago

Margaret,

The questions is, "Do you need a degree to break into the paralegal field?" Check out the job ads in your city. Are the law firms requiring a degree? Visit your local paralegal association and ask the members what they think.

Having a degree in paralegal studies will not hurt you, however, I know paralegals who do not have a degree and others who do.

There are no hard and fast rules re this. It can vary from region to region and from law firm to law firm.

Leslie

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Margaret in Brainerd, Minnesota

93 months ago

So what you are saying is have two different degrees? One in paralegal and one in something else? What do you recommend? English and writing? Do you have any suggestions on how to better these subjects without taking many classes?

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Margaret in Brainerd, Minnesota

93 months ago

Leslie, I know there is no hard and fast rules for this. But my question is it better to have a 2-year associates degree or a 4-year bachlors degree in the paralegal field? Is is it better to have a 2-year associates degree in paralegal along with a 2 or 4-yeae bachlors degree in something else? Most places are requiring the 4 year bachlors and 3+ years experience in law or secretrial work. How do you get your foot in the door to get the experience you need?

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Margaret in Brainerd, Minnesota

93 months ago

That does make sence to have a degree and cerificate but they really do need to specify, dont you think?

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

93 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I'll second Leslie's comments, although many firms' ads do not specify educational requirements. That can be misleading because without saying so they probably want people with at least two-year degrees. Another way to research authentic local requirements is to read paralegal bios on law firm websites.

I would still say one's chances of breaking in are better with a degree and certificate than without, primarily because the competition will have them.

It ia an'tch - but the deal is - is you want to be in a big firm- you need credentias . If you want a job in this field, ge ta p/tjob in anothere place to pay the bills whidle you look for this job. - It does not happen overnight. It happens b PLAN. Otheiwse, take a job in anyfield to pay the bills. \
You must rememeer, like a a colllege studeant out of school ,you have a job market that is tough and that is where you are at, ujnes you have connetion.

Of you want a job in this field,, remember the eoconmy we are presently in. - It will take time. I refererence this to anyone trying to get a paralegal position in any area, sole paractioner, govenemnt, corporaion. etc. You csn get lucky quickly or not.

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Leslie Sansone Williams in Port Orange, Florida

93 months ago

I've worked in the legal field for over 15 years. During that time, I had the opportunity to act as a temporary administrator while the firm searched for a full-time admin. Many of the Administrators I know brought in inexperienced staff in the positions of receptionist and legal secretary (as long as the technical skills were excellent). The reason for this was that the new employees could be brought in at a lower rate and trained within that particular law firm's system from the ground up. Hard work was rewarded with promotion.

You can get in on the ground floor without experience. I've experienced it, personally, and I have been a part of the hiring and mentoring process.

The question is, with a degree in paralegal studies (A.A. or Bachelor's), can you assist your attorney effectively if you're hired straight out of school with no legal experience whatsoever? No, you cannot. This is why, inspite of having multiple degrees, law firms are still asking for experience. They need people who can take a case and "work it". Mentoring is sorely needed (both for new legal staffers and new attorneys) but in most firms it doesn't happen.

I know in places like New York City, for instance, some of the larger law firms used to have a program for new paralegals which provided mentoring and gave you time to "get your feet wet". That's certainly utopia.

How are your technical skills? Are you open to starting in a receptionist or legal secretarial position to get your foot in the door?

This is just my 2 cents. We've all had different experiences. Most of my friends in the field began with no experience and obtained their 2 yr. degree later on.

Leslie

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