What Will I Learn In Paralegal School?
Before a paralegal can assist lawyers in and out of the courtroom, it is highly recommended that they enroll in a paralegal studies program so they know how the legal system works. While there are lawyers who hire college graduates and train them on the job, the coursework in the paralegal program is beneficial for both the lawyer and the paralegal because it puts them on the same page as far as legal work is concerned.
In paralegal school, students are introduced to the criminal justice system, especially on the law and procedures followed by U.S. courts. They are introduced to topics like the criminal code, constitutional rights, policing, rules of evidence and trials. They are also taught about the law and contracts. An important component of paralegal studies is teaching students how to conduct legal research either electronically or using books and other paper records. Paralegals don’t just confine their research to paper records. They also have to interview people involved in the case. Paralegal school teaches students techniques and strategies on how to conduct interviews with witnesses and clients and probe them about their knowledge in a case.
Paralegals must also know how to write legal documents that will be submitted in court. A legal writing course will teach them how to produce trial briefs, legal memoranda and other documents. They are also introduced to the litigation process, the rules of civil procedure and what their role is and what they should prepare for during trials.
Students of paralegal studies are also introduced to other legal topics like:
- family law
- property law
- probate law
- personal injury law
- elder law
- wills and estate administration
- bankruptcy law
- and other special topics
In order to hone an aspiring paralegal’s writing skills, a paralegal school may also require students to take technical writing as well as English grammar courses.
Paralegal schools usually have a practical hands-on component in their curriculum. This is usually in the form of an internship program. Students are sent to private law firms for several months to work and see first-hand what the job entails and how it is done. When not assigned to work for a private law practice, they may also intern at the attorney general’s office, the legal department of a corporation, an organization that provides legal aid or at a government agency. Students are encouraged to leverage this internship program not only to learn the ropes about what paralegal work is all about but to network with lawyers and law firms so they can improve their chances of getting hired when they graduate.
Paralegal schools educate and train aspiring paralegals for real work in the field. They equip them with strong research skills so that they know where and how to source information related to the cases at hand. Through their activities, students are taught to develop a high degree of organizational skills which will help them manage their time well even when they are swamped with work. The curriculum in paralegal schools also equips students with the skills they need to communicate well with clients and witnesses and convince them to share information that will matter in their case.