As of 2016, there are nearly 300,000 paralegals and legal assistants working in the United States. These professionals do not perform the same job, though. Many of them took up specialized online paralegal degrees to master certain legal practice areas.
If you want to be a paralegal, having a specialization comes with many advantages. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your chosen field of interest even before graduation. A specialty education gives you the edge over your peers that only have a basic foundation of law and legal research.
Which paralegal specialty should you choose? Below are the most common areas:
Corporate paralegals are some of the biggest earners in the industry. The primary functions of these professionals review contracts and research regulations. They help keep their companies compliant with relevant federal and state laws and other rules germane to the nature of business of their organizations.
Unlike other types of paralegals, the corporate kind rarely interacts directly with anyone outside the company. Corporate paralegals often work behind the scenes and spend most of their time reading complicated contracts in the comfort of a 16-floor office downtown.
2. Estate Planning
The main responsibility of estate planners is to assist clients to handle end-of-life succession matters. Having a paralegal career in estate planning enables you to engage with clients, usually senior citizens directly, and help them put things in order before they pass away.
Aside from helping clients write wills, estate planning paralegals are sometimes expected to take care of administrative duties, including recording deeds and assisting in inheritance tax payment.
3. Family Law
Family law paralegals work closely with attorneys providing representation for divorce and other related disputes, including child custody. Paralegals in this field are often tasked to keep files in order, coordinate with the opposing counsel, and draft communications to different parties.
If divorce battles interest you, a paralegal career in this practice area may be for you.
Immigration paralegals lend their expertise to assist immigrants in whatever they need, from processing visa applications to submitting petitions for political asylum. These professionals can work in either a law office or a corporation.
On top of possessing the usual skill set expected of a paralegal, being bi- or multilingual is a major advantage to thrive in this particular occupation. If you are passionate about immigration, a paralegal career in this field may be your calling.
If you love the thrill of courtroom battles, being a paralegal in the litigation arena may suit you. While the work environment may involve a lot of pressure due to demanding tasks, short deadlines, and high stakes, you may find this line of work fulfilling, for you can make the difference between life and death.
This litigation field does not only concern criminal law. It likewise has subspecialties, including intellectual property, personal injury, and bankruptcy.
If you can think of a paralegal specialization, there is a good chance that it already exists. Evaluate the programs of different schools to degree that can prove useful for your career goals.