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What training do paralegals need?

James Washington

in Higher Education

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Jeffrey Rodriguez on July 13, 2018

The following is written by and according to the Department of Labor and particular to the education and training required for paralegals.

The majority of the participants have an associate degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers train paralegals on the job.

The education and training. There are several ways to become a legal assistant. The most common is through a community college paralegal program that leads to an associate degree. Another common method of entry, mainly for those who already have a college degree, is earning a certificate in paralegal studies. A small number of schools that offer bachelor's and master's degrees in paralegal studies. Finally, some employers train paralegals on the job.

The associate's and bachelor's degree programs usually combine paralegal training with courses in other academic subjects. Certification programs can vary significantly, with some taking only a couple of months to complete. The majority of certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for people that already have college degrees.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities, law schools and proprietary schools offer formal paralegal training programs. Approximately 260 paralegal programs are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Although not required by many employers, graduation from an ABA-approved program can enhance employment opportunities. The admission requirements vary. Some schools require certain college courses or a college degree, while others accept high school graduates or those with legal experience. Some schools require standardized tests and personal interviews.

Programs of training Online, can also be considered as a large amount of them are already approved/accepted in a large number of states. They include the full range of courses needed to pass the CLA certification exam and has the minimum of 900 hours of duration. You only have to check your state requirements to be sure that they can also be used.

The quality of paralegal training programs varies; some programs may include job placement services. If possible, prospective students should examine the experiences of recent graduates before enrolling in a paralegal program. The training programs usually include courses in legal research and the legal applications of computers. Many paralegal training programs also offer an internship, in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a law firm, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a corporate legal department, a legal aid organization, a bank or a government agency. Internship experience is a valuable asset in the search for a job after graduation.

Some employers train paralegals at work, hiring college graduates without legal experience or promoting experienced legal secretaries. Some participants have experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such as a background in tax preparation or criminal justice. Nursing or health administration experience is valuable in personal injury law practices.

Certification and other requirements. Although the majority of employers do not require certification, earning voluntary certification from a professional national or local paralegal organization may offer advantages in the job market. Many national and local paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications by requiring students to pass an exam. Other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications by meeting certain criteria such as experience and education.

The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), for example, has established standards for certification that require various combinations of education and experience. Paralegals who meet these standards are eligible to take a 2-day exam. Those who pass the exam may use the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified paralegal (CP) credential. NALA certification is for a period of five years and 50 hours of continuing education is required for recertification. According to the NALA, as of September 4, 2009, there were 15,652 Certified paralegals in the united States. NALA also offers the Advanced Paralegal Certification for experienced paralegals who want to specialize. The Advanced Paralegal Certification program is a curriculum based program offered on the Internet.

The American Alliance of paralegals, Inc., offers the American Alliance Certified paralegal (AACP) credential, a voluntary certification program. Paralegals seeking the AACP certification must possess at least 5 years of paralegal experience and meet one of the three educational criteria. The certification must be renewed every 2 years, including the completion 18 hours of continuing education.

In addition, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offers the Registered Paralegal (RP) designation to paralegals with a bachelor's degree and at least 2 years of experience who pass an exam. To maintain the credential, workers must complete 12 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The National Association of legal Secretaries (NALS) offers the Professional Paralegal (PP) certification to those who pass the four parts of the exam. Recertification requires 75 hours of continuing education.

Legal assistants must be able to document and present their findings and opinions to their supervising attorney. They need to understand legal terminology and have good research and investigative skills. Familiarity with the operation and applications of computers in legal research and litigation support also is important. Paralegals should stay informed of new developments in the laws that affect your area of practice. Participation in continuing legal education seminars allows paralegals to maintain and expand their knowledge of the law. In fact, all paralegals in California must complete 4 hours of mandatory continuing education in general law or a specialized area of the law.

Because paralegals frequently deal with the public, they should be courteous and uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession. The NALA, NFPA and some States have established ethical guidelines for paralegals to follow.

Advancement. Paralegals usually are given more responsibilities and require less supervision as they gain work experience. Experience social workers who are working in large law firms, corporate legal departments, or government agencies may supervise and delegate tasks to other legal assistants and administrative staff. Advancement opportunities also include promotion policies, and other law-related positions within the company or the legal department of the company. However, some paralegals find it easier to move to another law firm when seeking increased responsibility or advancement.


For the source and more detailed information concerning your request, click on the related links section (u.s. Department of Labor) indicated directly below this answer section.


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