Not all legal work requires a law degree. As a legal support professional, you will work directly under the supervision of a lawyer. You will generally do background work for the lawyer and prepare litigation for trial by investigating the facts of the case to make sure that all relevant information is uncovered. While the lawyer assumes responsibility for the legal support professional’s work, you will often be allowed to perform all the functions of a lawyer other than accepting clients, setting fees, giving legal advice, or presenting a case in court.
You may conduct research to identify the appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles and other material that will be used to determine whether or not the client has a good case. After analyzing all the information, you may prepare a written report that is used by the attorney to decide how the case should be handled. If the attorney decides to file a lawsuit on behalf of the client, you may prepare legal arguments, draft pleadings to be filed with the court, obtain affidavits and assist the attorney during the trial. You may also keep files of all documents and correspondence important to the case. Secretarial services are normally required as well.
About the Program
We work closely with area law firms, government offices and businesses to determine employer needs. The State of Michigan does not require a bachelor’s degree in legal studies for an individual to practice as a paralegal, but many employers prefer individuals who have received training and can balance the duties of a traditional paralegal with that of a legal support office professional. Delta’s Legal Support Professional degree and/or certificates often meet those needs.
Plus, individuals interested in law school do not need to apply with a "pre-law" degree. Law schools choose candidates from a variety of bachelor degree backgrounds. The Delta College program is a good first step in gaining experience in legal topics, and also provides specific legal content for individuals currently working in the field that want to enhance their skills.
Internships are often available in this field.
Careers and Job Outlook
State of Michigan average yearly earnings:
- Legal Secretary - $45,260
- Paralegal - $49,510
Source: Michigan Department of Career Development, 2010 State Occupational Employment, and Wage Estimates of Michigan Occupational Information System.
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