In the United States, paralegal educational programs differ greatly in terms of substance and length. Even though regulation is a controversial subject nationwide, the paralegal career is still not regulated, except in California. The country does not require people who hold legal assistant and paralegal titles to have a license or meet any particular experiential or educational qualifications. Before you sign up for a paralegal school like The Center For Legal Studies, ensure that you do your research regarding the programs and coursework involved:
The kinds of paralegal programs
According to the American Bar Association, more than 1,000 institutions in the country provide formal paralegal education programs that lead to either a certification or a degree. Such programs consist of:
- Advanced degree programs that offer master’s degrees in legal studies, paralegal studies or legal administration;
- Four-year university and college programs that offer degrees in paralegal studies;
- Certificate programs that proprietary and business schools offer, stretching from a few months to a year in duration;
- Associate degrees that junior or two-year community colleges offer; and
- Online paralegal and home study programs.
Meanwhile, according to the American Association for Paralegal Education, paralegal education programs of great quality help students obtain important associated skills, such as:
- Understanding of ethics;
- Organizational skills;
- Computer skills;
- Computational skills;
- Communication skills (interpersonal, oral, written and non-verbal); and
- Critical thinking skills (problem-solving, research, analysis and judgment).
Paralegal programs should also provide you with a fundamental knowledge of American political systems, history and business. The majority of paralegal educational programs integrate an academic curriculum including both professional skills and legal courses. These integrate legal theory and knowledge of substantive applications.
Common practical legal courses comprise of Torts, Domestic Law, Civil Litigation, Contracts, Real Estate and Introduction to the Legal System and Paralegalism.
With enough knowledge regarding your potential profession at hand, you will be able to choose which program or coursework best fits you.