Many paralegals choose to specialize in real estate law, taking advantage of a housing market that is more often on the upswing. This area of specialization grows very quickly, pays very well, and is especially appealing to paralegal professionals who have an eye for detail. As with any career in the legal field, however, practicing in this area does require at least a little specialization so that paralegals and legal assistants fully understand tax law, contracts, real estate transactions, and other key pieces of information that govern these transactions. There are a few must-have classes for aspiring real estate paralegals, and a few other tips that will make breaking into this industry just a bit easier.
Start with an ABA-Accredited Paralegal Certificate or Degree
The key to getting started in virtually any paralegal specialty is to obtain a proper education. While there are many paralegal programs available to today’s students, only a small percentage is accredited by the American Bar Association. This accreditation is granted after the ABA conducts a thorough review of the programs. The accreditation verifies the quality of the institution, the quality of the professors, the relevance of each course, and the success of teaching methods and student activities. It’s the best way to gain an understanding of this career, and it’s also the best way to gain employment in the field after obtaining the certificate or degree.
Choose the Right Courses for a Specialty in Real Estate
There generally are no specific concentrations within a paralegal program, but that doesn’t mean students can’t choose the right series of courses for their long-term career aspirations. Many programs require a core set of classes in the structure of government, criminal and legal procedure, and other classes that are broadly applicable to the paralegal profession as a whole. There are also several opportunities for elective coursework, and there is where students with an eye on real estate careers can craft their specialty.
The first course to take, and perhaps the most obvious, is real estate law. This course will cover the basics of real estate transactions, ranging from routine sales to foreclosures, short sales, inherited estates, and much more. This is not the only elective that will help students specialize their career, however. Other courses that should be taken include contract law, property law, mediation and dispute resolution practices, and legal document preparation. All of these courses will contribute to the well-rounded, yet specific, set of skills paralegals need to advance into this area of the profession.
Finish the Program with an Internship in Real Estate
The key to landing a job in today’s economy is to bring the right blend of experience and education, and that’s where an internship comes in. Paralegal students who are close to finishing the program should arrange an internship with a local real estate firm that will help them gain hands-on experience with all areas of the profession. In addition to gaining practical experience that will bode well for a job search, students will start building their professional network and expanding their job options after they graduate.
Specialization is a Key Way to Boost Job Prospects
Despite its often short duration, the paralegal program demands specialization and long-term vision just like any traditional degree program would. Students who have an interest in real estate should certainly invest their time in relevant courses that help them specialize their skills and give them a niche in which to succeed. By taking the right courses and arranging the right internships, a future as a paralegal real estate law is certainly within reach.