ABA Paralegal Certification

ABA paralegal certification is definitely a hot ticket.

The American Bar Association (ABA) doesn't provide classes directly to students, however. Instead, they are an accrediting agency that sets a standard for paralegal programs to follow. The ABA has approved about 260 programs in the United States.

You can check them out at the ABA's directory of approved programs.

ABA paralegal certification doesn't mean this organization grants paralegal certifications. They don't. You must complete a program that's ABA approved.

Not to worry as California is the only state that actually requires paralegal certification. But the ABA does suggest its members pursue paralegal certification. Doing this lends further credence to the profession itself. It's not a bad thing, but it's cool not to have to worry about this as a barrier to the career.

The ABA's directory will help you find a program that's hopefully available in your area. However, the program offered by Southeastern Career Institute offers most of its course work online. They're a division of Kaplan and this might be just what you need to complete your education.

You'll want to sign up for courses at your local junior college, college, university or trade school. Many of these establishments have online courses.

When I was attending St. Mary's College of Moraga, I wasn't aware of any online courses.

But now, particularly since many students are non-traditional, online courses are very appealing. It works better with work/family schedules and consequently more schools offer this format.

When you do register you'll want to take classes such as:

  • legal research;
  • ethics;
  • legal writing; and
  • technology.

There will be a core curriculum to follow in addition to specialization courses.

If possible, you'll want to find programs that partner with local firms in your area. Then, too, you can complete your internship and find job openings.

This way you reduce employment concerns after graduation.

Consider pursuing a Certified Legal Assistant designation through the National Association of Legal Assistants. Or the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and recognized by the ABA.

Part of ABA paralegal certification is staying informed of what's going on in the legal industry. Read newsletters and publications to figure out what's affecting your specialization. It pays to know how the paralegal role is evolving and how law firms utilize this position.

Take advantage of seminars and conferences offered by the ABA if you're firm pays for it. Attending educational events has the dual benefit of providing you with continuing education credits and learning something new!

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