There was once a time when paralegals spent much of their days typing court documents, but now more than ever, the paralegal plays a much more active role in law firms, corporate legal departments and government offices.
Yes, paralegals are responsible for helping prepare legal documents — briefs, motions, pleadings, etc. But they may also help draft contracts (mortgage, divorce, tax returns, trust funds, estate planning), manage the overall administration of the office, or conduct research that may be vital to a case.
According to the American Association for Paralegal Education, there is so much more to becoming a paralegal than a common core of legal knowledge. Paralegals wear many hats, and successful ones must acquire critical thinking, organizational, research, writing, oral communication and interpersonal skills.
Bachelor’s degree programs in paralegal studies provide core courses and interesting material to develop these competencies. The William Woods Online Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies, for example, will prepare you for a wide range of roles and a variety of industries. Students get hands-on experience while still maintaining the flexibility of an online program. The Paralegal bachelor’s program includes a capstone class where students work at a mock virtual law firm.
Seventy-one percent of paralegals work in law firms, and all are valuable assets in companies, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies and more. Compliance offices are also an area of job growth.
Paralegals develop valuable legal research and writing skills, interviewing and investigation skills, ethical understanding and skills to manage either a law office or other. Simultaneously, they must be well-versed in various areas of law, like family law, contracts and torts, probate and estate planning and more.
The Missouri Paralegal Association’s purpose is to serve paralegals and advance the profession. For current and future paralegals in the Missouri area, becoming a part of the Association allows paralegals to brush up their skills through attending seminars and events, find out about job opportunities and be a part of the paralegal community in Missouri.