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Paralegal, Law Clerk, Court Reporter, and more - get legal experience while getting your degree

Legal professionals working together in an office - Tulane School of Professional Advancement

According to Indeed, it takes seven years to become a lawyer — this includes four years of undergraduate study and three years in law school. If you are like most people, you will probably have to work to support yourself during this nearly decade worth of education. Working in the legal industry during your studies can help you gain real-world legal experience.

The Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies and Paralegal Certificate program at the Tulane School of Professional Advancement (Tulane SoPA) can help you develop core skills such as legal research, writing, and analysis that can prepare you for job opportunities before, during, and after law school.

Learn more about legal industry jobs you can pursue while in law school.


There are two common clerk types in legal offices and law firms — mail clerks and file clerks. File clerks help keep physical files organized so that they are easily retrievable when needed. Mail clerks process outgoing and incoming mail and distribute all mail to relevant parties. Being a clerk improves your organizational skills, which will be very important in your career as a lawyer.

Legal Receptionist

As a legal receptionist, you will work at the front desk in a law firm's waiting area; but you will be responsible for much more than just greeting clients and answering phones. This position requires specialized knowledge of legal operations, and you will be required to handle complex tasks such as handling legal files and transcribing client interviews and attorney notes. Your time as a legal receptionist will equip you with a broad understanding of the everyday operations of a law firm.

Court Reporter

You can become a court reporter with a high school diploma and some additional training — through a postsecondary certificate program or courses in your bachelor's degree program — making this position a valuable learning experience for you no matter where you are in your education journey. As a court reporter, you will spend your days in courts or legislatures writing word-for-word transcriptions of depositions, trials, and other legal proceedings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly income of a court reporter was $60,380 in 2021. Becoming comfortable in a courtroom environment will be essential in your future career as an attorney.

Contract Administrator

Contracts help determine the relationship between two parties that work together. While they apply among people, businesses extensively use contracts to oversee their operations. Most companies require contract administrators to ensure legal compliance and eliminate risk exposure.

As a contract administrator at a law firm, your daily responsibilities would include:

  • Reviewing contract terms
  • Preparing new or updated existing contracts
  • Getting involved in negotiations involving contract terms
  • Explaining terms and conditions to involved parties, and
  • Analyzing potential risks depending on specific contract terms

The contract delegation skills you learn during your time as a contract administrator will be extremely valuable when you begin your career journey post-graduation.


To be a paralegal, you will need a specialized range of legal practice skills. Whether you gain these skills through a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies or during your time in law school, your training will be tested as you do similar work to attorneys.

As a paralegal, your daily responsibilities will include:

  • Performing research related to a particular case and compiling evidence for use in trial
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Filing appeals with the opposing legal team, and
  • Demonstrating exhibits in court

It's crucial to note paralegals work as understudies to attorneys. During your time as a paralegal, there are roles you cannot perform, like representing clients in trial or offering legal advice.

Tulane SoPA Offers Paralegal Programs in New Orleans

A career as a lawyer is an exciting one, but you must start somewhere before becoming a pro. While in law school, you can try out some support roles to help you understand legal industry best practices.

Tulane SoPA offers programs for students planning to attend law school. Both our Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies were approved by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Paralegals in 1981 — making our programs the oldest ABA-approved programs in the area. All course training is handled by paralegals and practicing attorneys with extensive experience with the legal system, so you gain intimate access to insights on career preparation.

Contact us today to learn more about our flexible programs ideal for working adults.

Request more information about Tulane SoPA's programs and admissions process


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