You don’t have to endure many long years in law school or spend endless hours studying for the bar exam to enter the legal profession. Job opportunities for paralegals are readily available. A paralegal works closely with attorneys and performs essential law office functions such as preparing legal briefs, conducting research, and preparing witnesses to testify at trial. In larger law firms, paralegals may also work in a management capacity and supervise a paralegal team.
As the profession has continued to evolve, several specialized career paths have emerged that are attractive to aspiring paralegals. Here are a few of some of the more intriguing possibilities:
1. Bankruptcy — Individuals and families who accumulate large amounts of debt can seek protection under federal bankruptcy laws. As a bankruptcy paralegal, you can play a key role in helping people attain financial relief. Your duties will include working with creditors, preparing bankruptcy petitions, and collecting financial information. Strong people skills are also required, as you’ll be working with clients who are under a great deal of stress.
2. Immigration — Immigration reform is currently a hot topic in the United States. As an immigration paralegal, you’ll assist individuals and families as they attempt to navigate the complex U.S. immigration system. Your duties will include conducting legal research and analysis. You will also prepare the variety of applications, petitions, and other forms required as part of the immigration process.
3. Intellectual property — Intellectual property is a term that encompasses patents, trademarks, copyrighting, and the like. As an intellectual property paralegal, you’ll perform research and prepare applications pertaining to these areas. You may also be involved in intellectual property litigation procedures.
4. Prisoner advocacy — There are multiple nonprofit organizations that advocate for the right of prison inmates. As a prisoner advocacy paralegal, you can ensure incarcerated individuals are treated with an appropriate level of respect. The role can include responding to complaints regarding inadequate living conditions, insufficient medical services, and threats made by other inmates. You will investigate the complaints, which typically requires conducting interviews with prisoners inside the correctional facility. You may also conduct inspection tours to determine the conditions within the facility.
5. Family Law — The practice of family law includes areas such as divorce, marriage, child support, alimony, domestic abuse, adoption, and civil unions. Family law paralegals perform functions that can include scheduling appointments and court hearings, corresponding with attorneys representing other family members, preparing pleadings, and organizing and maintaining case files. As with bankruptcy paralegals, strong people skills are required. You will often be interacting with distressed family members.
Choosing the Right Paralegal Specialty for You
These are just a few of the many fascinating career options available to aspiring paralegals. Other possibilities include estate planning and probate, corporate, Medicare, labor and employment, litigation, and criminal law. If you’re not sure which paralegal specialty is best-suited to your abilities and interests, a Vista College Admissions Representative would be happy to assist you in your decision-making process.
The Vista College Paralegal Training Program
Vista College offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal program that can provide the skills you need to enter the paralegal profession. You’ll be able to complete your training in as little as 70 weeks, either by attending our Amarillo, TX campus or by completing your studies online. As a Vista College graduate, you will also have access to our Career Services Department throughout your career. For more details about our paralegal training program, please click here.
Photo (CC) via Paige