Paralegal Training Is Your First Step to a Great Career

Written by admin on May 7th, 2011

While it is possible to secure a paralegal job without formal education, these jobs have become few and far between. To take advantage of the many opportunities in this growing profession you need to undertake high quality paralegal training. The job market for paralegals has become more competitive in recent years and paralegal training is the best way to set yourself apart from crowd.

Paralegal training comes in a variety of forms. Of course, there is on the job paralegal training but that is not practical for people who are just entering the profession. The most readily available paralegal training is done through community college paralegal programs. On completion of the program you will have an associate degree plus some sort of certification. If you already have a degree in an unrelated discipline, a community college can provide you with additional courses that focus on paralegal training. You will likely receive a certificate in paralegal studies when you complete the coursework. Some four year schools offer bachelor’s and master’s programs in paralegal studies as well. You may also find programs available at local vocational and technical schools.

According to industry estimates, there are more than 1,000 schools that offer formal paralegal training. This includes all types of schools — from two year schools to law schools. Of these, about 25% are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). While ABA approval is not considered mandatory by most employers, it certainly does not hurt. Most states do not have licensing or certification requirements for paralegals. This makes your paralegal training all the more important since you are competing for top jobs with a broad range of candidates.

Once you have completed your paralegal training, you can get further credentials by seeking certificates from one or all of the three national paralegal professional organizations. These include the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI).

When investigating your paralegal training options you need to consider a variety of factors. The first, of course, is the quality of the program. You may also want to check to see what kind of job placement assistance is available to you once you have completed your paralegal training. You should take into account your personal lifestyle as well. Do you need to attend classes only in the evening or can you go full time during the day? Is the program nearby or will you have a significant commute? Is tuition in the range of what you can afford? Does the school offer internship programs or work study? These are all factors that need to be weighed in your decision of which paralegal training program is right for you. If you can talk with others who have graduated from the paralegal training program you are researching you will be able to gather a great deal of good information to help you make your decision.

As you begin to look closely at paralegal training programs you will likely find that most curriculums have much in common. Programs typically offer courses in legal research and writing, information technology applications in the legal field, legal ethics, law office etiquette, and other general legal topics. You will also likely find courses that specialize in legal areas such as tax, litigation, contract, or criminal law. Your paralegal training program may allow you to concentrate in one of these areas.

Regardless of what area of the law you are interested in, you can find a paralegal training program that fits your needs and satisfies your intellectual curiosity. Once you have completed your program you will be well on your way to enjoying a satisfying and challenging career.


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