When you think of a career in law, you probably imagine many years of school. There’s pre-law general education, followed by a stint in law school, and the eventual requirements for bar admission. Lawyers don’t have it easy when it comes to educational requirements.
Fortunately, the barrier for entry isn’t quite as strict for paralegal and legal secretaries. If you are in the greater Lansing area and want to explore a career in the legal field, Lansing Community College might be your ticket to a new path in life.
What Should You Know about Lansing Community College?
Lansing Community College is located in its namesake town of Lansing, Michigan. Originally opening its doors in 1957, LCC is home to over 25,000 students each year. The college contains a wide variety of certificate and degree options, as well as technical and vocational continuing education courses. You can find programs in anything from psychology to robotics and automation.
Like many other community colleges, LCC offers their courses in various formats. There is the traditional in-class model, where you will appear in person and attend classes on a set number of days per week. You can also choose classes that are entirely online. In this case, you will either participate in video classes and meetings with your instructor or use discussion boards to participate in self-paced courses.
Finally, there is the hybrid model of a class. In this form, LCC classes use a combination of in-person and online meetings for courses. You will probably do most of your course online while meeting in person once a week. For some classes that involve clinical or lab experiences, this is mandatory.
What Legal Programs Are Available at Lansing Community College?
LCC is home to two different programs for people seeking a career as a paralegal. The two programs cater to different types of students and differ in their completion requirements. Take a look at both below to see which one is the better fit for you and your lifestyle.
Paralegal Associate Degree
This is the perfect choice for someone who has no previous experience in a college or university. The Paralegal Associate Degree has you go deep into legal specialty classes, arming you with the knowledge you will need for a career as a paralegal. Even if you have attended some college before, you’ll need to go through a general education curriculum along with your core courses in the paralegal area.
The associate degree will result in a total of 63 credits by the time you graduate. The paralegal degree at LCC is approved by the American Bar Association, a requirement for any accreditation of a legal program at a college or university. Once you finish the associate degree, you can continue with your legal studies at a 4-year university or begin your career search with an associate degree.
As part of your core area requirements, you will take classes in ethics, principles of business law, and critical thinking in law. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from general education courses in environmental science, college algebra, and the foundations of physiology.
Once you hit the 200 level, you will dive into courses that have you studying advanced topics. You will get into legal research and writing, preparation for paralegal certification, and computer applications inside a law office. As a capstone course, you can participate in an internship, take an independent study course, or elect to study immigration law.
The associate degree program is offered in online, hybrid and in-person formats at LCC.
Paralegal Post-Bachelor Certificate
For students who already have an existing bachelor’s degree and want to expand their study area, LCC has a post-bachelor certificate available. Designed for those who are already familiar with higher education, this program takes no more than a year to finish. Before entering the certificate program, students must submit proof of an existing degree to LCC for admission.
9 credits of legal specialty courses must be earned at LCC to count toward the certificate program while others can be transferred from another school. Similarly, not all of the courses earned toward a certificate can be used at other schools if you continue on your academic path elsewhere.
You’ll find many of the same courses from the associate program overlapping in the certificate program. Other courses you can look into when earning a certificate at LCC include tort law, litigation procedures, and commercial transactions.
What Kind of Career Will I Have after Lansing Community College?
By earning an associate degree or a certificate in paralegal studies, you are fast-tracking yourself into a career as a paralegal. Also known as a legal assistant, paralegals will investigate and put together the facts of a case to support the lawyers at their respective firm. Paralegals are needed to conduct research on laws and regulations that are relevant to their team.
Paralegals can also be in charge of administrative and secretarial work, maintaining documents in electronic filing systems. When lawyers require help for an upcoming trial, paralegals help to organize reports and will write out summaries to be used in court. Correspondence between sides and the construction of legal documents like mortgages and contracts can all be done by a certified paralegal.
When communication is necessary between clients and lawyers, paralegals typically help to open a line of dialogue. They will file exhibits and appeals, and they have the legal authority to represent their lawyers in court. When affidavits or other legal documents are required for a case, paralegals can obtain the necessary written or electronic statements.
Is Lansing Community College Enough to Become a Paralegal?
While earning an associate degree with LCC might help you obtain employment as a paralegal, it is becoming more common for a bachelor’s degree to earn you the necessary qualifications. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business or economics, getting a certificate might increase your chances of finding a job as a paralegal.
You’ll need more than just a degree to become a paralegal. Communication skills are vital to working in the legal field. You must be able to trace your research back to its source and confirm with your employing lawyers that you are capable of accurate reporting.
Since you will be performing plenty of research, you have to be comfortable with the use of a computer for extended hours. Paralegals have access to special systems for performing legal research. These systems contain databases of legal information used for arguing cases in court. Knowing how to access them quickly and correctly is vital to a paralegal’s career.
With trial dates and a host of other important schedules to keep, paralegals need to be excellent with organizational skills. It’s very likely that you will be juggling multiple cases at one time, and you’ll have to keep them separated and categorized properly.
All paralegals must know how to deal with people. Interposal relationships are a key component of the legal field, and you will be directly interacting with many people on a daily basis. This could be through email, over the phone, or in person. Ensuring all of you and your lawyer’s clients that their information is safe and secure is a requirement.
What Does the Job Market Look Like?
After you earn an associate degree or a certificate from Lansing Community College, you will enter the job market and begin searching for a position as a paralegal. Fortunately, the numbers are in your favor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15% growth of jobs from 2016 to 2026, which is said to be much faster than the national average for all occupations.
You are at an advantage if you decide to become a paralegal instead of a legal secretary. Law firms are focusing on giving paralegals and legal assistants more daily responsibilities. This includes basic filing and administrative duties that secretaries typically perform.
Furthermore, many law firms are in favor of reducing billing for clients, creating more cost-effective options. Paralegals can be hired for less money than a lawyer, making them a more affordable option for lower-tier legal services.
You could also find employment inside a larger company that contains an in-house legal department. It can be cheaper for a corporation to maintain an on-board legal department instead of constantly hiring an outside lawyer.
Moving Forward with Lansing Community College
You don’t need to go to a giant university to find your next step in life. Attending Lansing Community College will arm you with the tools you need to become a paralegal. Whether you choose the associate degree or supplement your existing bachelor’s degree with a certificate, you can move ahead with your career.
The only thing left for you to do is apply. In no more than two years, you could be conducting interviews and meeting with clients on behalf of a respected law firm. Find out what’s ahead with LCC and your future in the legal field.