Legal assistants, also called paralegals, perform many tasks in legal offices while working under the supervision of attorneys.
Their responsibilities may include:
- Legal and factual research
- Interviewing clients and witnesses
- Reviewing and organizing material for cases
- Drafting legal documents and forms
- Functioning as a member of a legal team
Jobs for the legal assistant vary in scope and nature from small to large law firms, financial institutions, corporations, law courts, insurance agencies, banks, department stores, credit departments, and health care facilities. It is one of the fastest growing areas of employment in the United States today.
A paralegal’s job title may reflect the type of law practiced by their employer, for example, administrative law, banking, bankruptcy, or corporate paralegal. Paralegals are also employed in the areas of criminal, domestic relations, employee benefits, environmental, family, health care, insurance, oil and gas, and worker’s compensation law as well as in estate planning and litigation.
Positions in the federal government which may require a paralegal background include: clerk of courts, civil service retirement claims examiner, compliance inspector, contract representative, criminal investigator, customs inspector, customs patrol officer, dependents and estates claims examiner, equal opportunity assistant, general claims examiner, insurance examiner, internal revenue officer, legal clerk, mediator, railroad retirement claims examiner, securities compliance examiner, social insurance claims examiner, unemployment compensation claims examiner, veterans claims examiner, and worker’s compensation claims examiner.
Nontraditional career positions which require either paralegal skills or a paralegal background, but may or may not utilize the terms ”paralegal” or ”legal assistant,” include: administrative assistant, case manager coordinator, case manager, computer litigation support, executive assistant, human resources staff analyst, legal research aide, litigation manager, project coordinator, resource coordinator, and title clerk.
Goals of the Program
The legal assisting program has clearly established goals designed to meet the unique needs of our students, potential employers of our graduates, and the mission of Shawnee State University. Our goals are as follows: (1) to graduate ethically responsible legal assistants who work under the direction and supervision of attorneys and who are conscious of the prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law; (2) to create and maintain a program responsive to the needs of its constituency; (3) to strive to qualify graduates who will contribute to the advancement of the profession, rather than to serve only the purposes of one institution or locality; and (4) to develop the student’s sensitivity to emerging concepts regarding the role of the legal assistant in the effective delivery of legal services in both the private and public sectors of our society.
The legal assisting courses at Shawnee State are not theory courses, but rather practical ”how to” courses taught by attorneys and judges who have specialized in the area in which they teach.
Because most of the legal assisting (BULA) courses are taught by attorneys and judges, these courses are most often offered in the evening sections.