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Know the Education Credentials for Paralegals

Know the Education Credentials for Paralegals


The extent of education required for a paralegal occupies something of a gray area due in significant part because the paralegal positions are often determined by the needs of the company or department they are working for state bar exams in order to practice law, paralegals are generally unregulated by most jurisdictions, with the only limits placed on their positions being that they are unable to perform certain duties that are specified as being exclusive to a lawyer, and, in many cases, further specified as being under the direction of an attorney (or many attorneys).

What this means is that there are no set standards for which all institutions that hire paralegals (which include everything from a single office to a giant corporation) require a specific level of education, because it almost always is left up to the discretion of the individual or company doing the hiring.

In a sense, this has proven to be one of the elements that has made paralegal work a growth industry over the last few decades, as it represents a well paying, stable, and socially mobile field which requires minimal investment of time into education in order to be able to practice effectively.   paralegals have historically entered the field after either abandoning or giving up on becoming lawyers, or in bridging a period between legal work and passing the bar).

Toward this end, while being a paralegal was once a position that could often be learned on the job, and still is, avenues of education have begun to open up which provide specific training to those looking to expressly enter the paralegal field. 

Bachelors degrees in paralegal work are also available, and nearly always carry more weight than an associates degree on the job market, but also generally incur a greater expense than some feel is necessary.

For those who already have a degree in another discipline, there are certification programs which provide short term training in pertinent areas related to paralegal work, and are usually followed by an exam to acquire certification.

As a rule the quality of education varies depending on where one seeks to gain education and knowledge, with some organizations placing emphasis on the very basics needed for a position, while others try to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the law as part of their process.  

All of these variable should be taken into consideration when determining what kind of training one would like to pursue, while also keeping in mind that specific training is still occasionally unnecessary from organizations that are willing to train on the job.