Individuals who wish to enter the exciting legal field without spending several years and thousands of dollars on law school should consider the paralegal career. The paralegal is a trained professional who carries out a wide range of delegated tasks that help a lawyer win their cases. The paralegal stands at the attorney’s side every step of the way, creating legal documents, conducting research, and completing important administrative tasks related to the legal field.
Most paralegals choose to specialize in a specific area of the law and can work as a litigation paralegal, family law paralegal, or even an estate planning paralegal.
There is currently a rise in demand for new paralegals to graduate into the workforce. The BLS predicts that employment for this field will grow much faster than the average job by as much as twenty percent within the next four years, creating up to fifty thousand new jobs. Since this profession is becoming more popular, due to the short paralegal school requirements and high paralegal salary, positions working for a major law firm are very competitive. An aspiring paralegal can stand out from the crows by earning practical law experience, sharpening their writing and computer skills, and specializing in a paralegal studies program that is approved by the American Bar Association.
Choosing the Best School Based on Your Career Goals
While you can find thousands of paralegal schools all over the country, we decided to focus on the top five programs that offer high-quality career preparation.
Many of these programs are also approved by the ABA. While a program doesn’t have to be approved by the ABA, graduating from a program that is can have a major impact on employment opportunities after graduation, in addition to salary potential. These programs hold the highest level of prestige and legitimacy in this field, which is what makes them worth the higher training costs.
Of course, you shouldn’t choose a program solely based on the fact that it’s ABA approved. We also looked at how each school rated with students and alumni, the specialization options available, internship availability, job placement, and faculty credentials.
|School||Cost||Length of Program||Program Type||Quality of Education|
|Georgetown University||9000||12 months||Certificate||5|
|Howard University School of Law||5000||12 months||Certificate||4.5|
|Penn Foster College||3500||2 years||Associates Degree||4|
|Post University||66000||4 years||Bachelors Degree||5|
|Paralegal Institute of Washington DC||4000||5 months||Certificate||4.5|
Best Certificate Programs in Paralegal Studies
Georgetown University: The school’s paralegal studies program is ABA approved and features curriculum that’s taught by top lawyers. Students can choose from two different types of delivery formats in either the litigation technology or generalist track. The full-time program is designed for traditional college students or field professionals. The part-time program is designed for the working professional who needs more flexibility in their schedule. In order to graduate, both programs require the student to complete a four-week internship program at a local law firm and complete a total of fourteen courses. To qualify for enrollment, program applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.
Program cost: $9,000
Length of program: Twelve months
Howard University School of Law: Howard University is the second top school on our list. This learning institution offers a twelve-month paralegal studies certificate program that’s available both on-campus and online. An online program is a popular option for the working professional in need of a program they can complete at their own pace.
Both programs are designed to enhance the student’s existing career and takes a somewhat different teaching approach compared to other competing paralegal studies programs. This program features training in discovery preparation, index research, client interviews, file maintenance, discovery preparation, legal form preparation, legal analysis, stages of litigation, and evidence.
Alumni can post their resumes on the school’s website and they will also have access to the school’s Paralegal Companion site where they can complete interview exercises, utilize important career support tools, choose from a variety of resume templates, or take advantage of the writing labs and research labs.
Online program: $7,000
On-campus program: $5,000
Length of program: Twelve months
Paralegal Institute of Washington DC: The Paralegal Institute of Washington DC offers a top paralegal certification program that can be completed in five months. Classes are available day, nights, and weekends. In this program, students will learn about procedural law, legal research, document preparation, and other practical skills that are necessary in order to be a productive member of a legal team. The Paralegal Institute also offers students lifetime retraining if a student wishes to review a previous course. The school also offers a free student and alumni career forum, and professional advising. The program features a one hundred and twenty-hour internship program which allows students to acquire real-world experience and the ability to network with professionals in the field.
Program cost: $4,000
Length of program: Five months
Associates Degree Programs in Paralegal Studies
Penn Foster College: This learning institute features a popular two-year associates degree program in paralegal studies. This program consists of sixty-three credits and is available online only. Students will study the court system, legal research, and writing, how to conduct legal investigations, legal terminology, and professional responsibility and ethics.
Program cost: $3,500
Length of program: Two years
Top Bachelor’s Degree Program in Paralegal Studies
Post University: This school was founded in 1890 in Waterbury Connecticut. In 2013 it was also one of the first universities to adopt online learning programs and it offers one of the leading bachelor’s degree programs in paralegal studies in the country. This is an online program that combines major courses that cover procedural and substantive law and comprehensive liberal arts education courses. This program is available six times a year, in eight-week modules. These classes are interactive and practice-based. Students will correspond with program instructors who have advanced degrees in the legal field. Students will also have access to one on one tutoring services and the university writing center.
Program cost: $66,000
Length of program: Four years
Each school will have their own enrollment requirements, including course prerequisites, a background in the legal field, SAT scores, and GPA. These enrollment requirements will be clearly listed on the school’s website.