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Associate Degree in Law: Program Overview

Lawyers are required to complete a 4-year baccalaureate degree as well as a 3-year law school program before they can qualify to gain licensure and practice law. Associate's degrees are not applicable to the profession. However, paralegals and legal assistants can complete 2-year degree programs, such as an Associate of Arts in Legal Studies.

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Associate of Arts in Legal Studies

Associate's degree programs in legal studies are most commonly offered by community colleges and are designed to train individuals for entry-level careers as legal assistants and paralegals. Students enrolled in such a degree program learn how to conduct legal research and provide assistance to licensed attorneys.

Those students enrolled in a degree program in law must study the basic concepts of U.S. law, civil litigation and legal procedures. They are also required to learn how to prepare basic legal documents, write legal correspondence, organize legal assignments, demonstrate knowledge of legal ethics and use correct legal terminology.

Education Prerequisites

A high school diploma is an absolute prerequisite to gaining admittance into an associate's degree program in legal studies. Applicants should also be strong writers and should have a keen interest in research and a strong attention to detail.

Program Coursework

Associate's degree programs in legal studies include courses that provide an introduction to law and legal theory as well as courses that provide specific instruction and training in legal writing and procedures. Examples include:

  • Introduction to the U.S. legal system
  • Civil procedures
  • Contract law
  • Legal research and writing
  • Legal interview techniques
  • Law office management
  • Administrative law
  • Family law
  • Bankruptcy law

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Paralegals and legal assistants are most typically employed by legal services agencies or local, federal and state government agencies. About 256,000 professionals were working in the United States in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Those in the profession made a median annual salary of $46,990 in May 2012.

Certification Options

Certification for paralegals and legal assistants may not be a requirement, but it is recommended in the workforce. Organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants and the American Alliance of Paralegals offer credentials in the field. Individuals seeking certification are required to complete an educational program and pass a certifying examination.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

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  • School locations:
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    • Georgia (3 campuses)
    • Illinois (1)
    • Pennsylvania (6)

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must be 22 years of age or have active military status
    School locations:
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    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AA in Criminal Justice

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate.
    School locations:
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    • Associate
        • AA in Criminal Justice
        • AA in Paralegal Studies

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Ohio (2 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Cincinnati include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
        • PreLaw Studies
      • Legal Support Services
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
        • Advanced Legal Research
        • Law Degree
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
        • Advanced Legal Research
        • Law Degree
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
        • Advanced Legal Research
        • Comparative Law
        • Law Degree
      • Legal Support Services
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics