Certificate programs are a fast track into many careers. Positions in the legal and medical fields that accept an accelerated certificate program as “proof of education” are varied, and people holding jobs within these industries boast a wide range of training and education.
It is up to the individual to decide which route is right for them. It’s important to research all your options, and choose a program and position that fit your lifestyle needs both now, and a decade from now.
For those interested in working in the legal field, and additionally for those who are looking ahead to furthering an education at some distant date, a certificate program can have hidden benefits such as getting you into the workforce, or into a specific industry, quickly.
According to U.S. News and World Report, “Many paralegals begin working as paralegals with the intent to use the experience as a steppingstone to law school and a career as an attorney. Others develop a love for the law as a paralegal and decide to take the next step to advance their law career by way of law school. In each case, it is essential that paralegals know how to use their experience to its greatest advantage when applying to law school.”
Another point brought up by the U.S. News and World Report article explores the fact that working in a law office is an “opportunity to explore the field. Use your time as a paralegal to explore areas of the law that interest you and that you may want to practice after law school.”
Paralegals perform a variety of tasks in a law firm. These include, but are not limited to, “assisting attorneys in preparing cases. As a paralegal, you may do research, interview witnesses or prepare the paperwork the attorney will use in presenting the case. You work under the supervision of the attorney. Paralegal work gives you an insider’s view of the legal system,” says the website chron.com.
Those earning a certificate of completion in a paralegal program frequently have earned college degrees in other majors, and have joined law firms as legal secretaries or in other administrative positions. A certificate of completion in a paralegal studies course satisfies an important requirement, allowing these individuals to work as paralegals.
There are no procedures for licensing or registration of legal assistants or paralegals. Paralegals work under the supervision of a licensed attorney, who assumes full responsibility for the work product.
Here is the important piece as to why “proof of education” in legal studies in critical. The U.S. Supreme Court and a State of Texas Appellate Court have held that compensation for a paralegal’s work may be separately assessed and included in the award of attorney’s fees. Proof of education or training in paralegal skills in required for the paralegal's time to be billed. Allowing a law firm to bill for the paralegal's hours adds to the value of the employee holding this proof of education.
For the ambitious individual looking ahead to law school someday, the individual must obtain a bachelor’s degree first, and then apply to law school. Applicants take the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test.
According to chron.com, “Your work as a paralegal will make many of the subjects covered in the test familiar to you.”
There are many ways to enter the job market and, subsequently, to make your way to the career you want. Do the research and find the career path that best suits your income, lifestyle and family needs, and personal wants. Good luck on the career search!