Nature of Work
Although lawyers assume ultimate responsibility for legal work, they often delegate many of their tasks to paralegals. In fact, paralegals — also called legal assistants — are continuing to assume new responsibilities in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. Nevertheless, they are explicitly prohibited from carrying out duties considered to be within the scope of practice of law, such as setting legal fees, giving legal advice, establishing an attorney/client relationship, and presenting cases in court.
One of a paralegal's most important tasks is helping lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. Paralegals might investigate the facts of cases and ensure that all relevant information is considered. They also identify appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to assigned cases. After they analyze and organize the information, paralegals may prepare written reports that attorneys use in determining how cases should be handled. If attorneys decide to file lawsuits on behalf of clients, paralegals may help prepare the legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, obtain affidavits, and assist attorneys during trials. Paralegals also organize and track files of all-important case documents and make them available and easily accessible to attorneys.
In addition to this preparatory work, paralegals perform a number of other functions. For example, they help draft contracts, mortgages, and separation agreements. They also may assist in preparing tax returns, establishing trust funds, and planning estates. Some paralegals coordinate the activities of other law office employees and maintain financial office records.
Paralegals and legal assistants held about 279,500 jobs in 2014. Legal services and private law firms employed about 72 percent; most of the remainder worked for corporate legal departments and various levels of government. Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 8 percent between 2014 and 2024.
Credentials You Can Earn
The Higher Education Act requires all colleges and universities to notify students and prospective students of all program costs for which they will be responsible. Students will be responsible for the following expenses:
- Nonrefundable application fee ($25)
- Tuition ($89 per credit hour)
- Accident Insurance Fee ($4 per term)
- Campus Supply Fee ($40 per term)
- Instruction Fee ($55 per term)
- Malpractice Insurance Fee ($11 per year)
- Parking Fee ($20 per term)
- Campus Safety Fee ($25 per term)
- Registration Fee ($50 per term)
- Student Activity Fee ($30 per term)
- Technology Fee ($105 per term)
Throughout the Program
- Textbooks (Approximately $3,086)
- Supply Fees (Varies — See course descriptions for exact amounts)
These expenses are based on costs in effect at the time this catalog was published. Prices are subject to change.