Online Paralegal Degree Will Open Doors

by Andy West - Date: 2007-01-19 - Word Count: 667 Share This!

An online paralegal degree may offer the possibility of improving your chances in the legal profession at a number of levels, starting with getting you in the door as a legal assistant. Legal assistants or paralegals are professionals who help attorneys and law firms with legal services. They are not allowed to dispense legal advice, but they are often absolutely essential in legal cases. They may perform research or complete tasks that help attorneys succeed. Legal assistants interview witnesses and clients and summarize interrogatories, testimony and depositions. They also conduct research necessary for legal cases and attend court with the attorney to offer assistance.

It is expected that the demand for legal assistants will grow in the next few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Employment Projections, the legal assistant profession is expected to grow by 33 percent through 2010. As a result, many people are considering an online paralegal degree in order to take part in this exciting profession. An online paralegal degree can give you the chance to get in at the ground level.

Some of the reasons cited by paralegals for their interest in the field include:

Professional opportunities
Legal assistants are in demand and there is plenty of good work available for these professionals. Legal assistants can work in law firms, with individual attorneys, or even for government agencies. There is plenty of opportunity to move up.

Work satisfaction
For those who have an interest in law and an interest in helping people, this can be a very rewarding field. Legal assistants help attorneys defend clients and possibly even remove criminals from the streets. While assistants do not always get the same public recognition as the lawyers they assist, many paralegals express great satisfaction in their jobs and many enjoy the great variety of work they get to do.

Pay and benefits
The legal profession is a well-paying field and although paralegals earn less than lawyers, they still can earn a substantial amount. The starting salary for a legal assistant in the US is currently around $22,000 and with overtime hours, salaries of $60 000 are quite possible.

Legal assistants often require extensive training and education in order to become qualified for the job. For those who are just starting the process of getting the necessary experience and education, the requirements can seem quite daunting. This is especially the case for those who have work or family responsibilities in addition to schoolwork. One option for these individuals is an online paralegal degree, which allows students to study from the comfort of their own home. If you have a computer and Internet connection, you can take part in distance education that can help you become a legal assistant.

If you are considering whether to try a traditional school or distance education, consider the advantages and disadvantages to getting your degree in cyberspace:

Distance education can be shorter to complete
A certificate can be obtained in as little as a few months and some accelerated programs allow legal assistants to get started with their job search very fast. However, you do need to be sure that your online paralegal degree is legitimate and from an accredited school. Not all distance education has the same prestige.

Distance education can be completed in your spare time
You can work full time and study in the evenings. However, be aware that you can only succeed with an online paralegal degree if you are disciplined enough to work steadily, even after a long day.

Online education can be less expensive
There is no need to move to be near a campus so you'll be saving money not having to commute. Plus, many online paralegal degree programs cost less in tuition than their in-class counterparts. However, you will still be responsible for books and other fees, so do your math carefully before you enroll.

Making the decision to apply for an online paralegal degree is a big decision that will affect your finances and your marketability as a job hunter. Choose your school and degree options carefully for the best post-graduation job options.

Andy West is a writer for Virginia College. Virginia College offers many Information Technology Degree programs. Visit Virginia College at to select the IT program that is right for you.
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