Online Paralegal Masters Degree & Graduate Program

An Online Masters Degree in Paralegal Studies allows for greater paralegal responsibilities. A paralegal performs legal and clerical work under the supervision of an attorney. Also known as “legal assistants”, their job responsibilities vary depending on the size and type of law firm for which they work. It is possible to become a paralegal with an online bachelor’s degree, or even an online associate’s degree and an online certificate in paralegal studies. However, the highest-level training is the online master’s in paralegal studies.

Successful applicants to online paralegal graduate schools should possess the following qualities and skills:

  • Clear communication, both written and spoken
  • Comfortable with use of computer software
  • Skilled at research
  • Excellent at maintaining relationships with clients

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2016, the median annual wages for paralegals and legal assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government$64,650
Finance and insurance59,570
Local government, excluding education and hospitals48,920
Legal services47,450
State government, excluding education and hospitals46,810

 

Paralegal Studies Online Graduate Programs and Curriculum

Paralegal studies students take a combination of core online courses and electives. Core courses vary between schools, but may include:

Law office management Legal research Professional development

Students choose electives based on their area of specialty. These areas include:

  • Litigation Criminal law
  • Bankruptcy
  • Intellectual property
  • Corporate law
  • Real estate
  • Family law

Many paralegal studies online master’s programs require an independent project to graduate. These programs generally take one to two years to complete.

Most paralegal studies online graduate schools require applicants to hold a minimum GPA from their undergraduate institution. In addition, they require GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

The American Bar Association is the accrediting body for paralegal programs. Some paralegals choose to pursue certification in addition to their master’s degree.

Paralegal Career Paths

Those with an online master’s degrees in paralegal studies generally become paralegals in law firms and government agencies. Job responsibilities vary – in smaller firms; paralegals often have a wider range of duties, while in larger firms paralegals often work on only one phase of a case, according to their area of specialization. Typical responsibilities might include:

Interviewing clients and other relevant parties to obtain the facts of a case

  • Conducting research
  • Drafting correspondence
  • Clerical work, such as creating and maintaining databases

Paralegal Future Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median salary of a paralegal with a minimum education level of associate’s degree was $49,500. Salary data for paralegals holding master’s degrees is unavailable. Larger firms sometimes have opportunities for paralegals to assume a managerial role. Experience, skill level and level of training all factor in to the decision to promote. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth for paralegals is expected to grow by 17% between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the national average.

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