It’s an innovative time in the legal industry as workforce diversification, technological advancements, a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion, and other emerging trends take the legal field in new directions. It’s an opportunity to be front and center in the provision of access to justice, as well as the road to racial justice and criminal justice reform.
The job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants alone is tremendously positive. Demand is expected to grow 10% faster than the average for other occupations over the next decade.
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New AS in Legal Studies Degree Has Just Launched
If you’re interested in entering the legal field or have some law experience, the new online Associate of Science in Legal Studies can help you expand your knowledge of law and procedures. “The legal industry has two major career paths right now — lawyers plus paralegals and legal assistants — but it is broader than people think. There is room for non-lawyers to help with access to justice,” states Dr. Alison Becker, J.D., who is the Program Director of Public Administration, Public Policy and Legal Studies. Versatile non-lawyer roles include jobs such as legal analyst, compliance official, jury consultant, legal data analytics specialist, and victim advocate.
The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on the Legal Field
The legal field, like most others, has faced constant challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and has made adjustments accordingly. “It’s been very difficult for courts to operate in this pandemic. While the public has a right to go to court and people who’ve been arrested need to be seen right away, some courts have been partially closed and other courtrooms need to be large enough to spread people out,” emphasizes Dr. Becker.
She adds, “Then everyone is dealing with technology like Zoom or Microsoft Teams and courthouses are being retrofitted with new technology. Underlying legal issues are being worked out right now.
“For instance, judges don’t know who’s off camera with a witness who’s testifying. None of this is easy, and that’s why it’s taking courts so long to be up and running.
“A lot of civil cases were postponed at the start of the pandemic and now they’re behind while the criminal courts are moving faster. Law offices have to learn to work remotely and the legal world as a whole is struggling.”
New Legal Trends Will Color the Post-Pandemic Landscape
As the world begins to reinvent itself after COVID-19, the legal backdrop will continue to shift. “Working remotely will likely be more common than it was before the pandemic, which is a major shift for the legal field because so much of the work is done face to face,” asserts Dr. Becker.
She adds, “Supporting legal roles will become more obvious. Access to justice, which has been a major issue for 50 or 60 years, will continue to be a public issue.
“Creating new career paths may help adjust the problem. Some states allow independent paralegals to operate in narrow fields such as family law and divorce.
“Almost every state is looking at the problem but some states, including Utah and Arizona, are developing solutions. They’re less populated than big states, such as New York or California, and there simply aren’t as many lawyers in rural areas.
“New York is a prime example. There are a lot of corporate lawyers, but even that state has its share of legal access issues.
“Other states are watching what happens in places like Utah and Arizona. If they’re successful in expanding access, these other states might proceed with similar innovations. All state bar associations are gauging what works best in their states.”
Accelerate Your Legal Knowledge
We offer students a flexible, affordable education. Our online legal studies associate degree is designed to build your knowledge of legal writing and communication, legal reasoning and critical thinking, interpersonal and organizational management. Topics covered in the courses will include:
- Real estate law
- Criminal law
- Paralegal procedures
- Legal research
- Civil practice
- General law
Deepen your understanding of the legal field with the associate degree in legal studies and choose from a variety of non-lawyer career paths.
AMU and APU are part of American Public University System, which is an officially recognized member of the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC Member Number 5070).