As a legal assistant student, there are quite a few decisions you will be making as you prepare to become a paralegal. One of these decisions, which can greatly affect the rate of pay you’ll be receiving as well as personal satisfaction in the profession, is whether or not to study to enter a specialized field in law.
You may argue that entering a specialized field as a legal assistant will greatly narrow your opportunities for employment, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Furthering your career by deciding on the field of law that interests you the most will actually bring much greater value to your services in the long run. Specializing in any specific niche of any industry always commands higher salary, because you will become much more useful as a team member of a successful legal firm.
Laws are not only complicated, but they are ever changing as well. When a legal assistant works in general law, he or she will have limited knowledge of each niche. Attorneys who handle all types of cases, from divorce and bankruptcy to criminal defense also often don’t command the highest pay for their services. On the other hand, an attorney who only handles divorce and specializes in custody battles will have quite a handle on the laws and loopholes in custody cases. These attorneys live and breathe a specific field of law and are far more knowledgeable than general attorneys.
Finding Your Niche as a Legal Assistant
In order for you to make the decision on a specialized field of law, there are a couple of important questions to ask yourself. The first, and most important is, “What am I interested in?” If you are passionate about children’s education, guess what? There are lawyers who handle education law. They fight for student rights, work at ensuring school district compliance with certain acts, and also work on student harassment cases, sexual abuse cases, and more. There are plenty of hot legal issues in education law to keep a qualified attorney and his or her legal assistant busy. That is just one example of a specialized field. Other areas of law you may consider include the following:
- Business law
- International and transnational law
- Advocacy and litigation
- Arbitration, mediation and negotiation
- Environmental and land use laws
- Family law, including divorce, custody, adoptions, and other issues family related
- Criminal law
- Immigration law
- Elderly protection and rights
- Children’s advocacy
- Insurance laws
- Slip and fall or accidental death
- Negligence cases
As you can see, there is much to choose from, and each of the topics listed above has numerous sub-topics that a legal assistant can choose from.
How a Legal Assistant Can Receive Specialized Training
Since normal legal assistant programs don’t have the option of specialized training, this is something you’ll have to do on your own. You can either take specialized classes at your local college or online, or you can conduct your own personal research in the specialized legal niche of your choice.
We suggest taking classes. This will look good on your resume and prove to your new potential employer that you are serious and dedicated to your field of study.
Choosing to become a legal assistant in a specialized field will open a whole new world of opportunities for you, both financial and personal .