If you have a deep interest in law plus an associate degree (or a minimum of 60 college credits), a career as a paralegal offers challenging work in a field that is growing faster than average, according to national labor data.
The first step is enrolling in a Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, like the one offered by Hofstra University Continuing Education. Once on board, you’ll be exposed to many different areas of the law, such as criminal, personal injury, administrative, family, estate planning, securities, immigration and information technology law, as well as specific substantive and procedural aspects of New York law.
In seven months, you will become an integral part of the legal field, which has increasing employment opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for paralegals and legal assistants is projected to increase 12 percent by 2028, which is much faster than average. New York has the third highest employment level of paralegals in the country, with California and Florida ranking first and second.
What does a paralegal do?
While lawyers provide legal advice, appear as counsel of record in court and sign pleadings and other official court documents, a paralegal provides the support behind those functions.
“The primary role of a paralegal is to assist lawyers in legal writing, research and other forms of documentation,” says Stacey Kerins, Hofstra CE Program Administrator. For example, she says, “Paralegals investigate and gather the facts of a case; they conduct research on relevant laws, regulations and legal articles; they gather and arrange evidence and other legal documents for attorney review and case preparation.”
Other responsibilities include:
- Organizing and maintaining documents in paper or electronic filing systems
- Writing or summarizing reports to help prepare for trials
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents, such as contracts and mortgages
- Obtaining affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
- Assisting lawyers during trials by handling exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing trial transcripts
- Filing exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Contacting clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors to schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions
Hofstra CE’sParalegal Studies Certificate Program
Hofstra’s American Bar Association-approved program is flexible, with day or evening classes, with faculty comprised of judges and attorneys who lecture in small classes. As a paralegal studies student, you’ll have full access to Hofstra’s renowned 593,830-volume Maurice A. Deane School of Law library.
“Many firms require graduates from an ABA-approved program,” Kerins said.
Vast Employment Opportunities
The Department of Labor lists the annual salary range for a paralegal working in New York between $31,000 and $82,000. The average salary is $54,500.
Aside from working in a law firm, paralegals are employed by a wide variety of organizations including government offices, healthcare organizations, real estate firms or title insurance companies, community-based legal assistance agencies and public defender offices.