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To become a paralegal, you must first have a high school diploma or a GED. The paralegal program can be found at trade schools and community colleges across the country. The community college paralegal program is generally a two year associate degree, however some lawyers prefer their paralegals to have a bachelor’s degree from a top college.

What Is A Paralegal?

Paralegals can be found working alongside lawyers, helping them by working files, organizing the case through research, and crafting supporting documents. A paralegal’s duty depends on who you work for and which area of law you're in. Because the paralegal works directly on a case and, in some instances, does much of the work to present the case, your hours are billable to the client—similar to a lawyer, only not as expensive.

At school, paralegals may specialize in

  • personal injury
  • criminal law
  • bankruptcy
  • immigration
  • corporate
  • litigation

 Courses a paralegal will take at school

  • legal research
  • legal writing
  • corporate law
  • international law
  • legal applications of computers

Qualities important to paralegals are strong communication skills, proficient computer skills, excellent interpersonal skills, and exceptional organization and research skills.

How Much Does A Paralegal Make?

The median salary for a paralegal and legal assistant is $50K annually. However, depending on how much experience the paralegal has and what type of law is the specialty, paralegals can make much more.

Paralegal and legal assistant job outlook

Between now and 2026, the job outlook for the profession is expected to grow 15 percent thanks to their increased presence in law firms. To keep costs down, lawyers will hire more paralegals to make their services more affordable.