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The 10 Best Online Associates in Legal Assistant Degrees in 2022

Online Associates in Legal Assistant - featured image

While lawyers typically get the credit from winning a case and the limelight in court and other legal situations, they wouldn’t be able to get very far without the help of their legal assistants or paralegal staff. Legal assistants are an essential element of the legal profession, and they require special training and abilities to comprehend legal proceedings and succeed in their employment.

Thankfully, this legal education does not require four years of college and can now be obtained online through associate degree programs in paralegal studies and legal studies.

Online Associates in Legal Assistant - fact

Aspiring legal professionals can benefit from an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or legal studies to help them get started in their education and careers. These associate degrees are offered by several community colleges and private colleges and universities. Unless a student opts for an accelerated online associate degree alternative, this degree typically takes two years to complete.


Quick Summarization:

A law firm’s paralegals and legal assistants are essential members. They assist attorneys they work with in conducting legal research and investigating case facts. These professionals continue to take on more and more responsibilities in many law firms to lower the legal cost of services and allow attorneys to work more efficiently. As a result, they must acquire the training they need to be proficient in their jobs. The only way to achieve this profession’s necessary paralegal training and skill is to enroll in one of the best associate degrees in legal or paralegal education.


Methodology

Becoming part of the legal field presents a challenge like no other! An online associate degree program that provides for an easy transition to a four-year degree and equips you for an entry-level legal profession should get your foot in the door!

What’s a high-quality Associate in Legal Assistant degree program? Let us count the reasons why our list of the 10 programs stand out:

  • 100% online or hybrid learning format, ensuring 
  • Deliver outstanding coursework that introduces Associate in Legal Assistant degree students to the basics of the legal field, including in the areas of legal research, legal writing, and legal practice specific to the work that legal assistants do,
  • Transfer path or similar agreements with partner colleges for a seamless transfer to a four-year degree program,
  • Employ an outstanding panel of instructors who are experts in legal work,
  • Utilize robust Learning Management System platforms that feature easy access to study resources for online learners,
  • Offer financial assistance and tuition programs for eligible students to fund their associate degrees,
  • Top-ranking in academic listings and well-regarded in academic circles,
  • Properly accredited by educational agencies that ensure the quality of associate-level and other higher education programs pertaining to the legal profession.

Visit our Methodology for more information on our ranking process.

10 Best Online Associates in Legal Assistant Degrees

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a 60-credit hour online Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies taught by real-world legal professionals. Online students in this degree can transfer up to 45 academic credits into the degree program but must complete the necessary 15 credits at the School of Law to graduate. Aside from being one of the best paralegal studies online, the school is also one of the most affordable, with an abundance of financial aid. 

Students will start their online paralegal studies associate degree by learning philosophical underpinnings and techniques that will help them better grasp basic legal procedures in today’s environment. You can learn about criminal law and processes as you progress through Liberty’s online paralegal program, which is an integral part of paralegal schools. Featured courses include:

  • Legal Research
  • Legal Writing
  • Civil Practice
  • Criminal Practice and Procedures

Lake Superior College

Lake Superior College

Lake Superior College’s Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies is a 60-credit hour online degree program that takes two years to complete. This online paralegal studies program is best suited for students who wish to work in the legal field but don’t want to become lawyers. Paralegal students interested in transferring to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year university would also make great candidates for this program.

Furthermore, LCS’s paralegal studies associate degree equips students with all the necessary training and skills for a career in the legal field. Students learn about the technologies and software used in the industry. Students study the American legal system and state and federal court architecture. Required courses include:

  • Advanced Legal Research
  • Business Communication
  • Business Law
  • Civil Litigation and Commercial Law
  • Criminal Law and Procedures
  • Law Office Applications
  • Processing of Legal Documents
  • Legal Writing
  • Legal Terminology

Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson Community College runs an online Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program for aspiring paralegals and legal assistants. Students who enroll full-time and follow the program’s 64-credit course layout can graduate in exactly four semesters. This online paralegal degree program prepares students for the National Association of Legal Assistants to become certified paralegals.

Students start their online paralegal associate degree by completing introductory coursework covering business English grammar, word processing, and microcomputer applications. Legal coursework includes:

  • Business Law I
  • Law and the Legal Assistant
  • Litigation
  • Family Law
  • Wills, Estates, and Trusts
  • Legal Ethics
  • Introduction to Legal Research and Writing
  • Personal Injury and Civil Wrongs
  • Criminal Justice

Davenport University

Davenport University

Davenport University offers a fully online American Bar Association (ABA) approved AS in Legal Studies degree program. The program is taught by world-leading professionals, from attorneys in practice to retired law and legal professionals. And because of the varying depths and backgrounds of the program, aspiring legal assistants can easily find internships and create a vast network. 

Davenport’s legal assistant program courses blend legal theory with real-world application. Participating in the Davenport Estate Planning Services (DEPS) program, which distributes free estate planning paperwork to marginalized groups, is one way to gain experience while helping others. Coursework includes:

  • Legal and business ethics
  • Litigation procedure
  • Law office and case management technologies
  • Substantive practice areas of law.

Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College 

Northcentral Technical College’s Legal Studies/Paralegal Associate Degree is a 60-credit online degree program that prepares students for a career in law firms. Courseworks are designed for students to have vast knowledge in drafting and interpreting legal documents, assessing and resolving legal procedures, compiling and applying technical data, and managing ethical conflicts. Program courses include:

  • Paralegal intro/legal ethics
  • Civil litigation
  • Real estate law
  • Family law
  • Estates and probate
  • Legal aspects of business organizations

NCTC’S legal studies/paralegal associate degree includes a paralegal internship where students can put their knowledge and skills into practice. This opportunity is a great way to help students become more competitive in the job market.


Hinds Community College

Hinds Community College

Hinds Community College offers a unique online Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology that students can complete in two years if they decide to pursue the 60-62 credit hours. There is an academic core, a career-technical core, and concentration classes in the curriculum. Electives include:

  • Contracts and Business Law 
  • Legal Environment of Business
  • Criminal Law & Procedure
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Real Property II
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Legal specialty courses

After completing all the necessary paralegal studies credit hours, students will be eligible and ready to take various paralegal association exams and certifications. 


Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota-State-Community-and-Technical-College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College offer a 100% online Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies that features 60 credits attainable in two years. The online paralegal curriculum at MState equips students with the critical thinking, writing, and legal research abilities necessary to excel in various law-related careers. Coursework includes:

  • Legal research and writing
  • Civil law
  • Criminal law
  • Wills and property law
  • Legal ethics

Although not required, online students can complete a paralegal studies internship.


American Military University

American Military University (AMU)

American Military University allows students to complete an Associate of Science in Legal Studies online with a strong foundation in legal doctrine. Active military students will pay $0 in technology fees. Online program courses include:

  • Introduction to Law for Paralegals
  • Litigation
  • Real Estate Law
  • Criminal Law and Procedure for the Paralegal
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Civil Practice and Procedure
  • Legal Ethics

Students are required to participate in AMU’s national testing initiative as they near degree completion. This involves completion of the ETS Proficiency Profile, a general education assessment. 


Iowa Lakes Community College

Iowa Lakes Community College

Iowa Lakes Community College offers a 70-credit Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal and Legal Studies that can be completed entirely online. Students can complete their degree in five terms, with a two-credit paralegal practicum in a real law practice where they receive practical experience writing wills and preparing lawsuits. Curriculum highlights include:

  • Legal ethics
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Wills, trust, and estate administration
  • Real estate principles

Students also learn how to interpret case law and legislation, conduct research, interact effectively during client interviews, and perform paralegal tasks professionally.


Purdue University

Purdue University

Purdue University offers a 2-year 90 credits Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services that can be completed entirely online. The curriculum aims to provide a comprehensive foundation in legal knowledge and other related practical study areas and the practical and technical skills and competencies required of many legal professions. Areas of study include:

  • Legal research and writing
  • Civil litigation
  • Legal ethics
  • Torts

The National Association of Legal Assistants recognizes the online associate degree in Legal Support and Services as satisfying the coursework requirements to take the Certified Paralegal Examination.


Overview of the American Legal System

Students learn about the American judicial system in depth in this session. The curriculum incorporates formal court proceedings, and students discuss essential legal topics. Students learn about judges, attorneys, and juries in the legal system.

Admission Requirements

Most associates in paralegal programs require applicants to complete an online application. Applicants are generally required to provide official high school transcripts, recommendation letters, and ACT or SAT scores.

Open enrollment rules exist at specific community colleges. This implies that they admit students regardless of their GPA or marks on college entrance exams.

Many schools additionally demand that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Both individual institutions and the government use the information on this form to determine financial aid allocations.

Although these are some of the most typical application needs, keep in mind that each school’s requirements and components differ.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has said it predicts a rise in employment opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants at 12% between 2020 and 2030. These professionals earned median yearly pay of $56,230.

Job availability and pay, however, differs by region.

Paralegal Programs Career Opportunities

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

These experts aid legal teams with research and witness testimony collection. They provide background research and assist lawyers in developing effective claims. 

During court hearings, they also take notes. Administrative work makes up a big part of this profession. Paralegals may be required to work extra to fulfill deadlines.

Average Annual Salary: $56,230

Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners

These individuals provide transcription services for legal procedures and trials. They must type quickly and accurately. Captioners are essential legal resources for the deaf population at live events.

Between the years 2020 and 2030, the BLS predicts a 3% increase in demand for these specialists.

Average Annual Salary: $60,380

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

These individuals work in offices and occasionally for lawyers. Client questions are routinely answered, appointment calendars are managed, and payments are processed. These individuals also organize staff meetings and handle filing systems and databases. 

Average Annual Salary: $39,680

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

People in this position keep meticulous records of a company’s spending and earnings. They keep in touch with clients to guarantee that invoices are paid on time. They also handle payroll for the company’s personnel. 

Unfortunately, the BLS predicts a 3% decline in demand for this occupation between 2020 and 2030.

Average Annual Salary: $45,560

Receptionists

Receptionists greet clients and customers in an office. They also take calls and respond to customer inquiries via the internet. These experts operate in almost every field. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for receptionists will grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030.

Average Annual Salary: $29,950

What Paralegal and Legal Studies Students Should Know

Students can learn the best techniques for research, witness interviews, and evidence appraisal in an associate degree in paralegal studies. Many programs require students to participate in an internship. This enables students to build their resumes while still in school.

Students must finish 60 credits in most associate degree programs. Those who enroll in an accelerated online associate degree program can get their degree in only a few months. Many institutions impose a time limit on how long a student can study toward a degree before credits begin to expire.

The majority of paralegal courses concentrate on a single area of the profession. Multiple-choice examinations, essays, and group projects are expected in classes. Students also have conversations about ethics and case study outcomes.

What Do Associate in Legal Assistant Programs Consist of?

Paralegal Studies Courses

Legal Research and Writing

This legal course introduces students to the fundamentals of legal research through federal and state case law, statutes, encyclopedias, Shepards, administrative information, and other sources. It features a lot of hands-on tasks that can help students prepare for law school. Students also receive legal writing instruction and more in-depth study utilizing Westlaw.

Litigation

The beginning phases of the litigation process in state and federal courts and procedures before administrative bodies are covered in the introductory litigation course. This course simulates pre-trial proceedings by having students conduct client interviews, conduct pre-litigation investigations, create pleadings, and file lawsuits. 

Law, Ethics, and Society

This is an introductory legal course for students interested in pursuing a legal career that delivers practical and universal content on the study of law and the judicial system. This course introduces students to the overview of the courts, contracts, tort law, property law, civil and criminal procedure, and the rights of individuals. 

Case law, analysis, and ethical aspects are also covered.

Contracts and Commercial Transactions

The essential legal principles of contracts, including those that underlie current business transactions and the rights of debtors and creditors—the universal commercial code, negotiable instruments, sale, and secured transactions—are covered in this course.

Theories of Liability

This course covers tort law basics and the culpability of people who commit civil wrongs.

Paralegal Internship

Paralegal Studies students complete a minimum of 150 hours of internship work under the supervision of a lawyer. The internship can be done as a summer program or a year-round part-time field experience. This field experience is supplemented with weekly sessions in the classroom.

10 Necessary Paralegal Skills

Legal Terminology and Documentation Understanding

Any legal assistant must have a thorough knowledge of regularly used legal jargon. Acquittal, habeas corpus, and subpoena must be words and phrases they are familiar with. They should also be knowledgeable about everything from trial briefs to living wills, as the position includes regular drafting, reading, and legal paper interpretation.

Organizational Skills 

Attorneys are extremely busy people. Their workplaces can quickly become hectic due to ongoing trials, mountains of paperwork, and daily meetings. Legal assistants with solid organizational abilities help their supervisors stay on track as well. Legal assistants aid law firms operate at peak efficiency by performing responsibilities such as organizing calendars and paperwork.

Writing Skills

Most lawyers delegate everything from regular emails to professional legal paperwork to their legal assistants. Legal assistants must effectively communicate through writing and generate documents in standard formats and proofread them. Strong spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and transcribing abilities are all advantageous.

Detail Oriented

Even a little error in a trial might result in the case being dismissed. Legal documents, too, are forgiving. Legal assistants are responsible for catching and correcting any faults that others may have overlooked. This encompasses everything from typos to double-booked meetings to evidence that is absent. 

Accuracy, note-taking abilities, and meticulousness are required.

Interpersonal Skills

Legal assistants may work with stressed-out attorneys, disgruntled clients, challenging opposing counsel members, unwilling witnesses, and regular judges, coworkers, and others. A top-tier legal assistant should be able to pleasantly greet visitors, provide guidance, and defuse heated situations. Listening, analyzing nonverbal signs, clearly communicating ideas, negotiating, and being emphatic are all part of this process.

Multi-Tasking

Law firms can be high-stress workplaces. Each day, legal assistants may work with various persons on various assignments. Furthermore, many projects are completed under time constraints. As a result, legal assistants must prioritize, assign, and track different workflows while remaining calm under pressure.

Technical Skills

Knowledge of Microsoft Office, legal software, and document management systems give legal assistants an advantage over their less tech-savvy colleagues. Legal assistants may also want to encourage continual technological updates so that their firms can compete with other up–and–coming firms.

Adaptability

Things don’t always go as planned. Legal assistants are frequently the ones who must come up with swift solutions. Legal assistants find creative solutions to problems, whether coping with double-booked appointments or seeking a difficult-to-find expert witness.

Critical Thinking

Strong analytical abilities are required because legal assistants are responsible for performing research. They must be able to do research, identify reliable sources, and separate relevant facts. They must know when to intervene and stay back, especially while working on a case or with an attorney. 

Teamwork

Most people rely on legal assistants to get the job done and vice-versa. This is true regardless of the office’s size. They must see themselves as a contributing member of a broader team rather than a single person operating in isolation if they are to be successful. Because legal assistants are rarely the center of attention, they must be willing to accept their role as a supporting, albeit crucial, character.

Frequently Asked Questions

How crucial are the legal assistant and paralegal in a law firm?

The legal services of legal assistants and paralegals are very important in all law firms. These specialists work in the legal field to assist paralegals and lawyers. They do legal research, produce various legal papers, manage schedules, and guarantee that the office runs efficiently and effectively.

How much do online programs for a Legal Assistant degree cost?

Online paralegal studies and legal assistant associate degrees normally cost $135 and $390 per credit. Total tuition should cost between $8,100 to $26,100 for students.

There are fees involved with online learning, and online students may be required to pay some of the same fees that campus students are required to pay, even if the quantity is different; this applies to both full-time and part-time students. However, if you study part-time, the amount you pay per semester drops. 

Is an online Legal Assistant associate degree reputable?

Employers regard accredited online degree programs as reputable. 

Connecting with recent graduates can also help prospective students assess the legitimacy of the paralegal degree. Learners may want to inquire about college graduate statistics at an institution or university. Ask about the percentage of graduates finding work six months after graduation and the graduation rate.

Is an associate degree in Legal Assistant worth it?

Earning an associate degree is considered worthwhile by many people. Thanks to easy online education, students can follow their legal professional objectives without relocating. Most people get a return on their investment in this associate program. 

What should you consider when looking for a position as a legal assistant?

Keep in mind that responsibilities differ depending on the nature and size of the company. For example, in a small office, you can be in charge of a wide range of tasks yet have little prospects for growth. While you may be limited to a few specialized responsibilities at a larger organization, you will have many opportunities to advance up the corporate ladder. 

Also, if you’re interested in a specific area of law, such as immigration, you might want to look for a law firm specializing in that field.

Key Takeaways

Paralegals and legal assistants play a crucial role in any legal team. Their comprehensive research, notes, and reports provide lawyers with the needed legal support in preparing for cases. They stay updated on legal trends, rules, and pertinent laws and write legal articles for lawyers. Their duties might range from financial inquiry to organizing evidence for court proceedings, depending on the type of law firm they work for.

An online associate program in paralegal studies can help you get started in this exciting sector. A paralegal studies core is combined with a general education curriculum in the best programs. Students learn fundamental knowledge that will help them succeed in the field. Some include internships or practicums, which offer them practical experience.

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor