Seeing history majors as paralegal workers might surprise you. History classes don’t teach modern law, office norms or legal procedures. However, many of the skills you learn earning your bachelor’s degree in history transfer perfectly to the legal profession. As a paralegal, you’ll spend most of your time researching and writing, just like your undergraduate days.
What Do Paralegals Do?
Paralegals help attorneys run their offices. You might meet with clients to learn the facts of their case and determine if your boss can help them, or you could spend all day at a law library researching legal precedents. Some of your tasks might include writing reports for your attorney, gathering affidavits from witnesses or drafting legal correspondence for your lawyer to approve. In some offices, you provide clerical assistance like answering phones and typing dictated documents. Other lawyers might hire a legal secretary for that work and rely on your research and writing skills for higher-level assistance.
If You Have a History Degree, What Classes Do You Need to Become a Paralegal?
If you want to become a paralegal with a history degree, you’ll need a certificate in paralegal studies or science. These post-graduate training programs are designed for college graduates wanting to transition to the legal field. You’ll spend six months to two years learning the intricacies of legal work, such as how to file court documents, research previous legal decisions or write legal documents. You already have the research and rhetoric skills needed to succeed as a paralegal. A certificate lets employers know you have the specific legal understanding to hit the ground running.
Why Paralegal Work is a Good Fit for History Majors
You probably loved studying history in college. Digging into primary materials, discovering a new way to view events in the past and realizing how small movements added up to large shifts in economic or military power can be exciting experiences. Unfortunately, few employers need historical research, and the job market for history-specific jobs is tight. By taking the skills you learned as a history major and applying them to a job as a paralegal, you can find enjoyable work that uses the skill set you built in college. Legal documents require a compelling argument grounded in factual details and previous cases; it’s not quite the same as term paper on the French Revolution, but it’s close. Every now and then, you might get to look through old state property records or cases from 100 years ago.
What Type of Career Growth Do Paralegals Have?
Your options as a paralegal with history training are almost limitless. You can stay at the same small firm your entire working life. As you build trust with your attorney, you’ll be able to handle more complex cases and work almost independently. If you look for large law firm jobs, you’ll have room for advancement. You could work your way up to supervising other paralegals or make yourself indispensable by specializing in specific topics. Most paralegals at large firms have access to overtime, benefits and competitive salaries, while small firms offer scheduling flexibility.
Related Resource: 20 Best Deals on Small Colleges for History Buffs
Many attorneys study history, philosophy or other liberal arts before heading to law school, so you’ll fit right in to law firm culture with your B.A. in history. It’s easy to see why there are so many history majors as paralegal professionals.