The practice of law is an exciting and interesting field. One can never really be sure where a case will lead.
Lawyers go through years of training to help them prepare to practice. In order to be legally recognized as an attorney, a person must take several examinations regarding professional standards.
When one thinks of courtrooms and litigations, one often thinks of lawyers as well. Yet, there is another profession, working under the direction of the attorneys, which contributes much to the legal profession.
This profession is that of the paralegal. In the United States, paralegals contribute a great deal during a case.
In most instances, a paralegal will be trained in one particular area of the law. Lawyers, on the other hand, need to have a wide knowledge of the statutes of the state and country.
An attorney, then, will work on a case, asking the paralegal for assistance in carrying out research and other matters related to the case. Direct involvement in a case by the paralegal is often a necessity.
The field continues to develop as a profession. Most new paralegals earn a starting salary of around $50,000.
As one gains experience in the field, one's salary is increased to be commensurate. The paths to becoming a paralegal are as different as the people who have taken them.
In some cases, they have graduated with a bachelor's or a master's degree. Others have only job experience.
Many technical training schools and community colleges, however, offer programs in paralegal studies. These programs are usually two years in length.
These programs are intensive and focused on giving a future paralegal the necessary training.
Upon completing the program, a graduate will essentially be ready to enter the field.
Once the two year program has been completed, a paralegal can become certified. The certification process involves the taking of a two-day long exam.
After completing the exam successfully, a person will become a certified paralegal, or CP. While this certification is not required in many instances, it does improve one's chances of being hired or advancing within a firm.
Some states, however, have begun to develop laws which require a paralegal to be licensed in order to practice. These measures are intended to ensure the quality of services provided to the public.
When practicing, a CP can do most anything that the lawyer wants him to do. The lawyer, though, is still the only one legally recognized in the courtroom and on legal documents.
CPs are able to prepare evidence exhibits, conduct legal research applicable to a case, write legal documents, conduct investigation for a case, and manage the case to a certain extent. As previously mentioned, all these duties are carried out according to the direction of the attorney.
In the United States, becoming a lawyer is difficult. Even after four years of schooling, an individual must pass many examinations and maintain a license to practice.
Many tasks pertaining to the law, however, do not require one to have a license to do them. This is why CPs have become a regular part of the legal profession.
Having a CP working on a case with a lawyer allows the lawyer to devote more time and attention to the legal matters pertinent to the case. More time and attention will certainly be beneficial for a client.
The work done by CPs is too much to be handled by a secretary, so the client is billed for the time given by a CP to the case. While this amount is only a fraction of what is normally billed by lawyers, it is still a fairly substantial amount.
There are many ways to contribute in the field of law. As society becomes more complex, legal professionals will become even more of a necessity.
There an increasing number of law suits and other cases being filed every year. It is becoming more difficult for lawyers to handle all of their cases.
Receiving training through law school or a community college is a worthy ambition. Prepare yourself for an exciting and fast-paced career.
If you want to be part of this growing field, consider your options and decide which route is best for you. Take full advantage of the training you receive.