An online degree in legal studies opens the door for many types of legal careers. These two-year degree programs will teach students how to conduct research using appropriate resources, identify relevant legal authority and draft documents that reflect legal reasoning. Students will learn how to inform, evaluate, and advocate on legal issues. They will know how to apply an understanding of legal concepts and procedures to ethically and efficiently support the resolution of legal disputes. Knowing how to synthesize relevant legal information from a wide variety of forms and documents will help them meet their client's objectives.
Legal Administrative Assistant
A legal administrative assistant has basic office duties, such as typing, transcribing, formatting and proofreading legal documents like contracts, pleadings, and correspondence. They will utilize advanced spreadsheet and word processing features to ensure documentation quality and efficiency. Their administrative duties include handling mail, assisting clients, answering phones, responding to email and scheduling calendars. They usually maintain and monitor assigned files and deadlines for paralegals and attorneys. They must have excellent organizational and communication skills in order to successfully handle multiple tasks and competing priorities. They may conduct basic legal research, respond to open record requests and assist with trial preparation. They may analyze sensitive client data and documents to determine applicable privileges and case requirements.
Legal Executive Assistant
Legal executive assistants usually work under general counsel and senior attorneys. They provide administrative support regarding phones, contracts, meeting scheduling, documentation filing and travel arrangements. They usually use legal information systems to manage contracts, deadlines, workflows and upcoming events. They may maintain contracts for summons, hearings, lawsuits and subpoenas. They work with attorneys regarding documentation revisions, finalizing and approving. Legal executive assistants create, access, compile and maintain complex legal files. They may work with accountants to coordinate accounts payables, review invoices, and request settlement checks. They may compile biannual or annual reports related to litigation, accruals, budget, record retention and annual compliance. They may be tasked with the retention, handling, and coordination of expert witnesses.
An entry-level paralegal may find themselves managing personal injury dockets. This means they will be responsible for maintaining the docket documentation from the lawsuit inception through the formal trial to the final dismissal or resolution. They will need prior work experience in litigation and they must understand the complex dynamics of managing personal injury dockets. In order to be successful, they will need great time management and communication skills. They may be responsible for drafting and editing pleadings, correspondence and discovery responses and summaries. They prepare litigation status, subpoena medical record, and medical chronology reports. More and more states are requiring paralegals to obtain a license and pass an examination exam. A few states, such as the state of Washington, now allow paralegals to act as quasi-attorneys and provide official legal counsel to clients under certain conditions.
An online degree in legal studies usually results in an Associate's degree, but it is highly recommended to pursue a Bachelor's degree. These programs will offer advanced classes in legal writing, ethics, contracts and research techniques. Students may also take classes in torts, domestic relations, criminal law procedures, contract law proceedings and advanced legal practices.