How to Choose a Paralegal School

Some of the main things to look at when evaluating a paralegal program include:

  • The educational objectives, mission, and goals of the program;
  • The reputation of both the paralegal program and the umbrella institution that is offering it. Focus on both the standing that the program has with the general public as well as with the local legal community;
  • Admission standards and the level of education required for acceptance into the program will reveal the academic level of the program and whether or not you would be eligible;
  • Whether or not it is a paralegal program accredited by the American Bar Association, keeping in mind that ABA accreditation is voluntary and some solid programs are accredited by local, state, or regional accrediting bodies or choose not to seek ABA accreditation because of time and cost considerations;
  • Membership in paralegal organizations like the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) or the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) may demonstrate that the program administration has an interest in current developments in paralegal education and the paralegal profession;
  • The qualifications of the paralegal program administrator, and knowing whether the educational staff is full or part-time will give you an idea about how much supervision and leadership the program has;
  • How available the staff is to meet with students;
  • Whether internships and cooperative education are included in the program;
  • The placement record of the program will tell you if recent graduates are finding paralegal positions, what organizations are employing them, and what type of duties they are performing;
  • The qualifications of the faculty will determine the content, level and quality of instruction. Look for experienced attorneys who know how to effectively utilize the services of paralegals;
  • A curriculum that includes both legal theory and practical skills courses. Look at the required legal courses, the number of elective legal courses and the amount and type of work required for success in these courses. If you are interested in a particular area of law, be sure the school offers courses in it;
  • The student services which are available, such as orientation, student and alumni organizations, tutoring, counseling, and financial aid. Make sure the program will give you all the individual assistance you require;
  • The availability of a well-equipped legal research library;
  • The cost of the program, relative to the paralegal degree and training offered;
  • The graduation requirements of the program;
  • Whether the schedule (full-time, part-time, night classes or distance learning) meets your needs;
  • How well the program will prepare you for the type of paralegal job you are seeking in the area in which you live;
  • The opportunity to participate in such activities as honor societies and volunteer work in the legal community. Information about paralegal associations and opportunities for continuing paralegal education should be available
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