Are you wondering about choosing the right paralegal courses for your program of study?
You should be.
The right courses support your career interests and put you in the best direction forward for your first job.
When applying for entry level paralegal positions, you may very likely list courses you’ve taken to support your application for a particular job opening.
Your course outline may not need to include required courses such as legal research and writing unless you want to include that information.
Ideally, if you’re interested in working as a patent, intellectual property or trademark paralegal, you’ll want to show you’ve taken similar course work supporting you knowledge and understanding of this niche market.
The same is true if you want to be a corporate paralegal. You’ll need to show you’ve taken the necessary courses for this specialty. That way potential employers will know you've committed yourself to learning all that you can for the specialty in which you are applying (e.g., corporate law).
Research the program you intend to take classes from. Find out the basics about whether it’s ABA approved or not. Ask what most students study and how successful their job placement is.
Find out which specialties have the greatest employment upon graduation. It may be easier to immediately work some areas of law rather than others.
Know your options.
Don’t get discourage, however. If you settle for being an estate planning paralegal when really you wish to do transactional law, work with the program counselor to see how you can make it work. Anything is possible, but it's always best to know what you're getting into.
Take a self-assessment. Figure out what you want and why.
It’s easy to go where the money is but it won’t be worth it if you hate your job, the people or the work place. Get an understanding with yourself about what you want. Take stock of your skills and aptitude and see where it fits best with the courses offered.
Choosing the right paralegal courses also means talking to people working in the field. Contact your local paralegal or legal assistant chapter for opportunities to talk with paralegals working in the specialty of your interest.
This way you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect. Everyone’s experiences are different, so take that with a grain of salt, but you do want to know what you’re working toward and whether it’s the right fit for your interests.
Lastly, the internship is critical to furthering your understanding of a particular paralegal position. Choose carefully and make very good use of your time by learning all that you can from the law office or government agency where you perform your internship.
By doing your research early and understanding your personal goals, you’ll choose the right paralegal courses naturally because you’ll already have your compass set for success.