Since the paralegal profession emerged back in the 197os, the means and standards by which education of paralegals has been undertaken has been varied to often extreme levels, as no set standard is really required in most jurisdictions for an individual to be a paralegal.
However, as the profession has grown, organizations such as the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) have tried to set an elevated standard for paralegal education based on a set of quality-based criteria.
Initially founded in 1981, the AAfPE has set out to become the leading oversight body of paralegal education programs, to a level more ambitious than that of even the American Bar Association because its increased focus on achieving a level of standardization, not just accreditation.
To meet AAfPE guidelines must adhere to the goals of the organization, which promotes high standards of paralegal education, work with other paralegal educators to improve methods of paralegal education, participate in annual AAfPE conferences, promote and disseminate research on the paralegal profession, and promote cooperation with other organizations, such as the ABA, which share a mutual
One of the set goals of AAfPE remains standardization, which it tries to do by establishing a set level of competencies recommended of paralegals which will complement the various means by which a paralegal can receive their education.
The AAfPE especially calls for a diversity of knowledge, and requires members of its organizations to offer a diverse selection of classes to their perspective paralegals, so as to promote specialization in the field amongst new paralegals.
One means by which the AAfPE has tried to implement a set of core competencies has been through the desire for creating what the group calls a model syllabi, which would establish a minimum level of learning and knowledge that would be shared by all educated paralegals.
It should be noted that the AAfPE does not promote strict regulated standardization, but supports limited standardization by specifying a level of quality all member organizations are expected to strive for.
Presently, institutions of higher learning, such as universities, colleges, and private programs with membership in the AAfPE total well into the the hundreds, with many more joining all the time.