Accredited Paralegal Schools
Two and half decades ago, paralegal education consists only of a handful of programs across the whole United States, with many legal offices, law firms, corporations, and government agencies providing only “on the job trainings” for prospective paralegals.
Today, on the job trainings still remain an important element in developing successful paralegals, but the roles are shifting. More and more employers are setting requirements for hiring, including higher education and/or formal training in paralegal studies.
But when it comes to paralegal education, or any education for that matter, it is not enough that you enroll in some obscure program provided by an equally obscure school or institution.
Accreditation is your assurance of a program’s quality and accreditation is your ticket to increasing your chances of getting hired to do paralegal work in a prominent law office or government agency.
Thus, if you are considering a paralegal career, then be sure to enroll in a program provided by an accredited paralegal school. Fortunately, the current trend in paralegal education is accreditation, perhaps in an effort to compensate for the general lack of educational standards in paralegal profession. As such, many of the programs for paralegal studies available today are from accredited paralegal schools.
What are the types of accredited paralegal schools?
The types of accreditation given to paralegal schools are the following:
* Regional Accreditation – A regionally accredited paralegal school becomes such only after a regional accrediting body grants accreditation to its paralegal programs. For the accreditation to be valid, the regional accrediting body must have jurisdiction over the accredited paralegal school. In addition, the regional accrediting body must also go through a recognition process with the federal government before it could exercise its accreditation powers.
* American Bar Association (ABA) Approval – The ABA has approved over 250 paralegal or legal assistant training programs nationwide. In order for a school to receive accreditation from the ABA, they must comply with the guidelines laid down by the Association. The only ABA accredited paralegal schools in the country are those that offer programs that are not distance learning or correspondence courses.
The guidelines set forth by the ABA for accredited paralegal schools provide important information when evaluating programs. Even so, schools are not compelled to comply with these guidelines. In fact, it is quite possible for a school to be considered as on par with an ABA- accredited paralegal school even though it has no ABA approval yet, so long as it is in substantial compliance with the ABA guidelines. This compliance, of course, is subjective. In short, it means that the accredited paralegal school’s program for paralegal studies already complies with the guidelines but, for some reason, has not sought ABA approval yet.