Best Paralegal Program Options
How do I choose a good program for paralegal studies?
With so many options, you may find it difficult to choose the best online paralegal programs or on-campus paralegal programs to fit your career goals. But there are a few things that you should look for when you are deciding which of the brick-and-mortar or online paralegal schools to attend. For the best possible education, you should only attend an accredited paralegal program. Next, make sure that your program includes an internship, which will greatly enhance your resume and your job prospects.
How important is accreditation for paralegal degree programs?
Accreditation is important because it states that a school has a good program. Therefore, it is a good way to know whether your program is high-quality. But there are 2 types of accreditation, and you should understand the differences between them before you look for the top legal assisting programs online or at traditional schools. Accreditation is either institutional or program-specific. Institutional accreditation is awarded to universities, colleges or technical schools. And regardless of your subject, you should always attend a school that is institutionally accredited.
The second type of accreditation is awarded to specific programs within a school by professional organizations. In this case, you want to look for paralegal programs that are accredited by 1 of 2 organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the major organization that approves paralegal programs is the American Bar Association (ABA). There is another organization that also recognizes outstanding programs, which is called the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAFPE).
Whether you choose to earn your credentials through paralegal programs online or offline, you should check that your program has been approved by 1 of these organizations. If it has, then you will know that you are attending 1 of the best brick-and-mortar courses of study or top online paralegal programs. Potential employers will respect accredited brick-and-mortar or online paralegal degrees when you are on the job market.
Will I have to do an internship or get hands-on training in my paralegal program?
Although not every school requires that you complete an internship, you will be far better prepared for your professional career if you participate in an internship as part of your program. That is especially important if you choose to attend legal assisting online programs, because you will have a chance to practice your skills in a hands-on environment. In fact, internships are so important that you should not enroll in an online paralegal program if it does not have 1. Even the best online paralegal programs are incomplete without a practical aspect. You will find it very difficult to practice certain skills, like interviewing clients and standing in court, if your only education is through theoretical classes in a paralegal online program.
Most internships last about a semester and are completed at the end of your education. However, you may also be able to take advantage of short-term internships that you can participate in over the summer. The more practical experience you can gain the better, whether you attend a paralegal program online or not.
Will my paralegal studies program help me find a job as a paralegal?
Good paralegal schools offer career resources to help you find a job after graduation. Some schools even have established relationships with certain law firms or corporate businesses that utilize paralegals. Although schools cannot guarantee you a job, they can often place you in an internship where you can prove your skills to potential employers and earn some work experience that you can put on your resume.
You should also keep in mind that if you work hard during your paralegal internship, the same company or firm may hire you after you graduate. However, since that is not a guarantee, you should begin networking with other paralegals and those in the legal field even while you are a student. One of the best general resources that you can use is Linked In, a professional networking site where you can connect with other business-oriented professionals.
In addition, you can join professional organizations for paralegals so you can stay informed about important developments in your field. Not only will membership in such groups enhance your credibility, you can often use them to find out about the jobs that are available for people with your qualifications in your local area. Some of the most influential associations for paralegals are the National Federation of Paralegal Association, the The Association for Legal Professionals and The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc..