Navarro College offers two programs designed to prepare individuals to perform and assist in performing duties requiring knowledge of substantive and procedural law under the direct supervision of an attorney or to perform duties for corporations and other employers that benefit from the Paralegal’s ability to gather, analyze and organize information and to understand legal issues.
The A.A.S. degrees prepares a student for immediate employment as a paralegal. These are two-year programs which allow the student to complete the basic core college requirements along with 10 paralegal courses providing the student with a knowledge of substantive and procedural law and the technical skills necessary to be a proficient paralegal. These programs also enable the student to transition seamlessly to bachelor’s degree programs at numerous 4-year institutions including Tarleton, UNT, UTA, and Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Navarro College offers a one-year certificate. This program works best for those students already employed as a Paralegal or those seeking the credential in addition to a previously earned degree.
See the Navarro College Catalog for degree plans for:
A.A.S. in Paralegal Studies
A.A.S. in Paralegal Studies with Criminal Justice Emphasis
Paralegal Studies Certificate
See the Navarro College Catalog for course listings at www.navarrocollege.edu/courses
About the Paralegal Profession
What is a Paralegal? There are probably as many definitions of the term “paralegal” or its equivalent “legal assistant” as there are attorneys, corporations, government agencies and other entities that employ them. According to the American Bar Association, a legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed by a lawyer, law office, corporation, government agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which the lawyer is responsible.
What do Paralegals do? Paralegals perform many of the legal functions traditionally undertaken by an attorney. The paralegal performs these tasks under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Attorneys assume ultimate responsibility for the work, but are increasingly delegating many of their duties to paralegals. While the Paralegal job description will no doubt vary depending upon the employer, some common tasks a paralegal may be expected to perform are listed below:
- Conduct client interviews and maintain general contact with clients
- Locate and interview witnesses
- Conduct legal investigations
- Calendar and track important deadlines
- Organize and maintain client files
- Draft legal documents and forms
- Conduct legal research
- Assist attorneys at depositions, hearings and trials
- Organize information in preparation for trial
- Manage law office procedures
Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public and are expressly forbidden by law from carrying out duties that are considered the practice of law such as giving legal advice, setting legal fees, and appearing in court on behalf of a client.
Where do Paralegals work? Paralegals work in a variety of settings including private law firms, government offices and courts, corporate legal departments, and other business such as banks, title companies, and insurance companies. Paralegals deal with all areas of the law including litigation, personal injury, real estate, family law, criminal law, bankruptcy, environmental law, employment law, corporate law, and elder law, among others. The duties of paralegals vary widely depending upon the employer. A paralegal may work in an office that specializes in a particular area of the law or for an attorney with a general practice encompassing many specialty areas.
Employment Outlook and Salary Expectations
Outlook: Increasing demand for qualified paralegals is expected to continue for years to come. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Paralegal field is the 6th fastest growing occupation in the United States with demand for paralegals expected to rise in law offices, government agencies, corporations and other entities through the year at least through the year 2018. There are opportunities for employment in Navarro, Ellis, Kaufman and Limestone Counties as well as Dallas, Waco, Fort Worth and other major cities. In short, wherever there are lawyers, there is a demand for qualified paralegals!
Salaries: Students considering the Paralegal profession will be happy to learn that salaries continue to increase as well as demand. Salaries vary greatly in the profession depending upon various factors. Education, experience, geographic area, size and type of employer play a part in the salary a paralegal can expect to earn. According to a 2007 survey conducted by Legal Assistant Today, a respected paralegal publication, the national median annual salary for paralegals was $52,000. A similar survey conducted by the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas in 2010 concluded that the median base salary for paralegals working in Texas law firms is $48,641, government agencies is $45,751 and corporate legal department paralegals made an average of $66,852 annually.
Paralegal Credentials:There are currently no requirements for Paralegals in Texas to be licensed or credentialed. However, The National Association of Legal Assistants, a respected national paralegal organization provides a voluntary certification procedure for graduates of paralegal programs meeting certain criteria. Navarro graduates are eligible to take the CLA exam, which is offered several times a year in the Dallas area. By passing the exam and meeting other requirements set by NALA, a graduate can earn the recognized “Certified Legal Assistant” or “CLA” distinction. For more information – go to www.nala.org.
About Becoming a Lawyer
Many paralegals take the next step and go on to become lawyers. If this is your goal, the Paralegal Studies Program at Navarro College can put you well on your way to achieving your dream.
The process of becoming a lawyer: After achieving your Associate’s Degree, you must go to school an additional two years to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. The Bachelor’s Degree can be in any subject. In other words, you do not have to major in pre-law or anything else. There are no prerequisite courses for law school other than the Bachelor’s Degree itself. After getting your Bachelor’s, you must apply and be accepted to an accredited law school. Law School is a three-year program. Graduates must then take and pass the Bar Exam and undergo a criminal background check in order to receive a license to practice law from the state. It takes 7 years of post high-school education to become a lawyer.
The Paralegal Studies Degree is a step in the right direction: A paralegal education will give you a firm foundation for courses you will be required to take in law school. It will also give you a practical understanding of the general concepts about which you will learn. Additionally, you will be qualified to work as a paralegal which will enable you to gain experience and money before or during law school.
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