Paralegal Requirements - What Qualifications Should You Have?


Paralegal requirements are not precise. They vary. It's a good idea to check with your state or local bar association and your paralegal/legal assistant local chapter.

Paralegals have diverse training and backgrounds. Some paralegals are law students wanting to get a feel for the career. While others may possess law degrees and choose not to work as attorneys.

However you slice it, education is important to getting into this field. There are a fair number of employers, at least in California's Bay Area that require a Bachelor's degree. A certificate alone will not guarantee employment.

Many paralegals enter the career field after completing a formal paralegal program. According to the American Bar Association, there are over 1,000 paralegal/legal assistant educational programs in the United States. They vary in length and scope.

The most common programs offered are:

  • Certificate programs;
  • Associate's degree programs; and
  • Bachelor's degree programs.

You'll find the nature and quality of the program you attend will impact your employment. Schools with outstanding reputations, such as Saint Mary's College of Moraga, make it a little easier for their graduates to get interviewed.

Choosing a program is important. You should give it careful thought before enrolling. If you're unsure, contact your local paralegal/legal assistant chapter for guidance.

Check out the following associations, too:
American Association for Paralegal Education
National Association of Legal Assistants
National Federation of Paralegal Associations

Select a school with a reputable program in your area. Check in with your local paralegal association and find out what they suggest. Do some research before enrolling in a paralegal program so your time and money pay off once you complete it.

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