Are there any books that I can read to help me decide if a paralegal degree is right for me?
Paralegal Career for Dummies by Scott and Linda Hatch provides a hands on guide to the basics. This guide will help you land a job and get ahead and provides you with all of the tools you need to succeed.
The Paralegal’s Handbook by Anita Haworth and Lesley Cox provide this guide to the responsibilities and tasks paralegals may encounter. This guide explains everything paralegals need to know to handle their job with accuracy and confidence.
Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life by Linda Elder and Richard Paul provides practical advice for becoming a better decision maker and thinker. Since paralegals often function as problem solvers, this book can help you improve your skills and take charge of both your job and your life.
A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr is based on the true story of a young lawyer and his struggle against 2 corporations that allegedly polluted water with carcinogens. Paralegal students should find this eye-opening story of governmental and judicial corruption very intriguing.
Mistress of Justice by Jeffrey Deaver features paralegal and aspiring jazz pianist Taylor Lockwood as the main character. The ruthless power struggles between law firm partners, with Taylor caught in the middle, is an exciting read for potential paralegal students.
The King of Torts by prolific writer and former attorney John Grisham is a darker journey into the lives of lawyers and those who work for them. His legal thrillers often feature paralegals as secondary characters and should appeal to anyone interested in a law career.
Knock Off by Rhonda Pollero chronicles the adventures of paralegal Finley Anderson Tanner as she hunts for the killer of her client’s husband. Those considering paralegal colleges should find the Finley Tanner series a funny and exciting introduction to the world of fictional paralegals.
What are some online resources that will give me ideas about how to use a paralegal degree?
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) is the United States’ leading paralegal association. Membership in NALA provides information about the profession, continuing education, networking opportunities and professional certification programs.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) is comprised of over 50 paralegal associations and was the first national paralegal association. The website offers educational resources, information on its annual convention and joint conference and links to NFPA’s publications.
Paralegal Today is a magazine with hundreds of articles relevant to every aspect of the paralegal profession. The website also features a list server for networking with other paralegals and a job bank, both of which should be very helpful to those studying for a paralegal degree online.
The Empowered Paralegal is a blog run by Robert E. Mongue, JD, assistant professor of legal studies at University of Mississippi. The blog covers professionalism in the paralegal field, from dress to writing skills, and also provides links to various resources, professional associations and other paralegal blogs.
The Paralegal Voice is a monthly podcast published by the Legal Talk Network and hosted by 2 professional paralegals. The podcast covers a comprehensive range of subjects pertinent to today’s successful paralegals, a valuable resource for online paralegal degree students lacking peer interaction.
What organizations accredit on-campus and online paralegal degree programs?
There is no professional accrediting body that oversees the paralegal profession.
The American Bar Association (ABA) approves, but does not accredit, paralegal programs that meet its strict standards. This approval is a voluntary process that the school may choose to go through. It is important to note that the ABA approves paralegal programs, but not paralegals themselves. Therefore, graduates are identified as graduates of “an ABA approved program” and not “ABA approved paralegals.” You cannot earn an accredited paralegal online degree ABA does not approve paralegal programs that are offered as fully online.
The American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) also recognizes universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning. Schools that are members of the AAfPE have demonstrated that their unique curriculum covers both substantive legal knowledge and practical skills.
How can I become a certified paralegal?
Earning a paralegal certificate or graduating with a paralegal degree does not make you a certified paralegal. In order to become a certified paralegal, you must meet the requirements of 1 of several organizations that offer certification. This usually requires passage of an exam. Once obtained, you must maintain your certification by completing required and ongoing continuing legal education.
Certifications are offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the National Federation of Paralegals Association (BFPA) and the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI), among others. The state in which you work may also offer specific certifications, so check with their individual bar associations to see if there are any that interest you.
Is a paralegal degree recession proof?
The paralegal field is expected to add over 82,000 jobs by 2020, and more industries are hiring paralegals for their law departments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2010 and 2020 the paralegal profession is expected to grow by 18%, as fast as the average for all occupations.
Employers want to reduce costs and increase efficiency, so they are expected to hire more paralegals and legal assistants since paralegals are less expensive than lawyers and perform more duties. Paralegals’ work is also less likely to be offshored. They often handle documents and take statements, which can only be done in person, as well as gather, file and store important documents.
As long as you have passed the certification exam, the best legal assisting online degree will be just as competitive in the job market as a traditional degree. As online paralegal degree programs grow in popularity, they are becoming more acceptable to hiring managers. A top legal assisting degree, whether online or traditional, can open the door to an exciting future.