Planning on becoming a paralegal? Then consider taking up paralegal studies to get your career started. These days, paralegals can specialize in various areas of the law, which greatly distances themselves from the old adage “jack of all trades, master of none.” If you are looking to add muscle to your paralegal title, then you might want to consider becoming a criminal law paralegal, letting you stand out from run-of-the-mill paralegals.
Just like what the name suggests, a criminal law paralegal is someone who specializes in criminal law. Put simply, criminal law is the field of law that is concerned with the punishment of those who get themselves involved in crimes that can range anywhere from battery, kidnapping, murder, robbery, murder to treason.
Being a criminal law paralegal, it’s for certain that you will carry out a lot more tasks than those who spend all of their time inside the confines of a law office. These days, paralegals have duties and responsibilities that make them more like lawyers than mere office secretaries, and that’s why so many nowadays are striving to become paralegals. But still many of the undertakings of paralegals have to be performed under the direct supervision of lawyers.
What a Criminal Law Paralegal Does
Certainly, some of the most challenging paralegal works are the ones executed by paralegals who specialize in criminal law due to the nature of the field of law that they have chosen to dedicate themselves to.
Just like what’s mentioned earlier, paralegals of today have duties and responsibilities that used to be exclusive to lawyers, and it’s exactly having such kind of power that separates them from others who are also in the law field, such as legal secretaries and administrative assistants. However, there are still certain things that paralegals are not permitted to perform, such as providing legal advice and representing clients in court.
If you are planning on becoming a criminal law paralegal, some of the things that you will be engrossed in are:
- Interviewing key witnesses: Apparently, interrogating key witnesses to a crime is one of the most exciting yet highly challenging tasks that a criminal law paralegal has to perform. It’s just like what you see on TV wherein special agents are interviewing key witnesses, but you are a paralegal working for a lawyer.
- Conducting legal research: Carrying out legal research about a case is a task that is usually delegated by a lawyer to a criminal law paralegal. Much of the time for gathering various pieces of information pertinent to the case is spent by the criminal law paralegal inside the four walls of a law library.
- Drafting and preparing documents: Since the lawyer you are working for is usually busy carrying out tasks that cannot be delegated to you, it’s one of your many important duties to draft a variety of documents. Once approved by the lawyer, you will also have to come up with the final documents and organize them, too.
- Lending a hand to the lawyer before a trial: The culmination of all of your hard work is stepping foot inside the court. But before that takes place, a criminal law paralegal like you will first have to assist the lawyer you are working for in preparing for the very important legal battle that lies ahead.
A criminal law paralegal has so many more duties and responsibilities than the ones mentioned above. But simply by looking at them, you will have an idea on how busy you will be once you are already a criminal law paralegal.
How to Become a Criminal Law Paralegal
In order to make your dream of being a criminal law paralegal become a reality, the very first step that you need to take is get trained to become one, and that is by successfully completing a paralegal program. Since paralegal is a very popular career option today, there are lots of learning institutions offering paralegal programs.
Even though you are intending to specialize in criminal law, you will still have to take up a paralegal program just like everybody else who also likes to work as a paralegal one day.
However, there are additional subjects that you will have to take while completing the paralegal program that will enable you to become more proficient with the field of law that is concerned with crimes. Some of the most important subjects that you can expect to take up while enrolled in a paralegal program are the following:
- Ethics and responsibilities
- Legal writing
- Criminal law essentials
Most of today’s paralegals get themselves employed by law offices by obtaining an associate’s degree paralegal program. Usually, it’s something that can be completed in a span of two years. Clearly, it’s one of the quickest ways for you to make your dream of being a criminal law paralegal come true. Generally speaking, however, there are more career opportunities waiting for someone who finishes a more intensive criminal law paralegal program.
Such type of criminal law program is usually available for those who have already earned bachelor’s degrees, which means that they have previously completed 4-year courses.
Requirements to become admitted to a paralegal program can vary from one learning institution to the other, and it also depends on the paralegal program that you wish to enroll in. Sometimes having a bachelor’s degree is necessitated, while other times it is a requirement for applicants to have finished related courses.
How Much Money a Criminal Law Paralegal Earns
$49,500 — this is the median yearly salary received of someone who is working in the United States as a criminal law paralegal, based on the details provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics itself that appears on the latest Occupational Outlook Handbook publication.
Do take note that the amount of salary you will get once you are already a criminal law paralegal in the US (or elsewhere on the planet) will still vary based on a number of factors. Some of them include the law firm where you are working in, your work experience, and the number of years you have been a criminal law paralegal.