How to get a Compliance Paralegal Job

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Working in the field of compliance can be challenging. You must understand both the regulations governing the industry in question and how that industry functions so you can identify problems when they arise and can deal with their complications effectively. One way to become involved in these compliance jobs is to become a compliance paralegal. In this role, you would carry out the chief responsibilities of a paralegal while working for a law firm or government department specializing in compliance issues. Below is some information about how to get started in these compliance careers and where to identify available jobs in compliance.

Becoming a Paralegal

As a compliance paralegal, you will handle most of the legwork involved in the regulatory cases. That means you will be charged with investigating claims and helping the attorney or agency for whom you work to prepare their case. Contrary to what you may have heard there are multiple ways of becoming a paralegal.

In many areas, community colleges offer training programs that will prepare you to be a paralegal. Most of these programs will earn you an associate degree. You may also be able to find some colleges or universities that offer a bachelor’s degree or higher in the field of paralegal studies. For individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, you can earn certificates in paralegal studies or receive on-the-job training from an employer. The latter option is becoming less and less common so if you are serious about becoming a paralegal you will want to have some educational background in the subject.

While you are being trained for these positions, you will probably complete courses that will prepare you for conducting legal research because this is one of the most common activities you will be doing. Additionally, your program may include a local internship. If you are interested in becoming involved in the field of compliance, you should ask for an internship that will place you in such an environment. Remember that any experience you can receive in this area will only improve your chances of finding a desirable position later.

If you want to improve your chances further, consider becoming certified. Most employers will not require this step but it will look excellent on your resume. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers a two-day examination to paralegals who want to be certified. Other organizations offering similar certification are also available.

Preparing for Paralegal Jobs in Compliance

Because you may end up working with a law firm or agency that deals with compliance issues for a wide range of industries, you may not be able to gain much hands-on experience in a related field as preparation. Instead, you should work on getting as much legal experience as possible. Working with government agencies that handle compliance issues as an intern, for example, would be an excellent opportunity. However, this would not be practical for everyone.

Another issue besides work experience is your location. Although the businesses which are monitored for compliance are numerous and are spread throughout the country, most of the firms handling these issues are going to be located in major metropolitan areas where they have easy access to the main offices of large banks and other companies. For this reason, you may want to consider relocating in order to find the best position for yourself.

You may also want to be prepared to do more general paralegal work while you are searching for compliance officer jobs. That is because the number of positions is limited so not only is competition for those positions intense but they do not come up as often. For this reason, you should be constantly on the lookout for available positions that interest you.

Finding Paralegal Compliance Jobs

You will be unlikely to find these available positions in your wants ads. One way to locate them is through the job placement services at your community college or university. Many training programs do provide some placement assistance after graduation, although the quality of that assistance varies. Be sure to communicate with the job placement department and explain what you are looking for specifically so they can help you locate what you want.

Another idea is to network with your paralegal professors. They may be able to steer you in the right direction or put in a good work for you at an agency or law firm dealing with regulatory issues.

Besides these options, you may want to consider using the Internet to keep an eye on the industry. Avoid general job search sites because although they have a large number of listings available most of these are not going to be useful for your needs. Instead, you should focus your search on sites geared towards the compliance industry or towards paralegal fields. Some of these sites are available online and most will allow you to enter job search specifications so you can be notified via email when positions meeting your requirements are posted.

Remember you need to act fast in order to secure the job you want.
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