There are certain criteria that must be met in order to become a federal paralegal, including acquiring the correct education and training, applying for certification, and ensuring you meet the specified qualifications of the office or organization in which you wish to work. Paralegals are sometimes also referred to as legal assistants and work closely with lawyers to assist in preparing for hearings, trials, real estate closings, and other legal meetings. These professionals often spend much of their time researching specific laws and previous court cases in relation to the current workload of the attorneys, and can often be seen supporting the lawyers in the courtroom. People who choose paralegal careers typically have an in depth knowledge of the law and are trained to provide accurate supporting information and materials quickly and precisely.
In order to become a federal paralegal, you must have the proper education and training. Candidates must have completed high school or the equivalent before continuing their education or applying for paralegal work, as not all employers will require further education and may provide on the job training. After completing their education, candidates are advised to enroll in an accredited paralegal studies program. Many community and technical colleges offer these programs, and they typically last from 18 to 24 months. If you prefer, there are a few universities that offer bachelors and master's degrees in paralegal studies, though many legal professionals find this unnecessary.
After completing your education and training, you may wish to become certified or nationally recognized as a paralegal professional. It is not required for every job, but it is considered to be a worthwhile credential and many legal offices and organizations view this certification as an indication of a serious, well trained professional. There are national and local paralegal organizations that can assist candidates in receiving certification, such as the National Association of Legal Secretaries and the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc, both in the United States.
Whether you choose to participate in formal education or training or complete paralegal training on the job, there are qualifications you must have to become a federal paralegal. It is important for the paralegal to understand the legal terms and language for documents and briefs, and also have a good understanding of the national and local law, the judicial system, and effective procedures for attorneys and paralegals. Excellent research skills and good written and verbal communications skills are also necessary to become a federal paralegal.