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A nurse paralegal is a person who brings his or her nursing expertise to the practice of law. While not a lawyer, nurse paralegals work as consultants in law firms, hospitals, and insurance companies. They perform a wide-variety of tasks, including drafting pleadings and documents, preparing clients for court hearings, and gathering information for general counsel. In order to become a nurse paralegal, you typically will need a nursing degree, practical training, and certification.
The first step to become a nurse paralegal typically is to obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. This is achieved by attending an accredited college and completing a four-year degree in nursing. Once this is obtained, it can be helpful to gain practical experience so that clinical information can be brought to the courtroom.
Next, you will likely need a paralegal degree to become a nurse paralegal, which can be obtained either by attending a residential campus program or by completing an online degree or certificate program. It typically is important that the program be approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) to ensure that students are given the educational foundation required to meet the various bar objectives. These courses typically are designed to give students a strong knowledge of the American court system, civil lawsuits, and ethics.
Paralegal courses vary in both length and expense. Courses generally last for 15 months and cost approximately $7,000 US Dollars (USD). While it is possible to find work with only a two-year degree or certificate, many paralegals are entering the field with four years of education under their belt. When choosing a school, you might want to visit the actual campus to get a sense of what the faculty and students are like.
To become a nurse paralegal once you have completed your degrees and practical training, you will want to become certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). This credential tells a potential employer or client that you are capable of providing professional legal services in the capacity of paralegal work. This certificate is recognized by the ABA as a valid credential. The examination is computer-based and is offered three times a year. An examinee must be a graduate of an ABA-approved paralegal program or hold a degree in legal studies.
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