Are there any professional organizations that provide information about legal assistant training?
Students interested in paralegal training programs should start with the American Bar Association (ABA) and its list of approved paralegal education programs. While ABA approval is not a requirement, major law firms and corporations prefer graduates who have completed an ABA-approved program.
The American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) is another excellent source to help you find the right paralegal training program. Similarly, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) provides information on paralegal education as well as certification and continuing education.
Many colleges and universities have a paralegal alumni association or network in which those who have taken paralegal training online are eligible to join. Alumni associations allow paralegals to network with each other and communicate job openings as well as provide mentoring opportunities to paralegal students. One of the most well-known is University of San Diego’s Paralegal Alumni Association, which also runs a list server.
How can I network with professionals who have paralegal training?
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) hold annual conferences that include social events. NFPA and NALA accept student memberships, so these conferences are an ideal opportunity for paralegal students to interact with industry professionals. The AAfPE holds both an annual national conference and regional conferences, while NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals conducts an annual Education Conference and National Forum in addition to regional conferences. NALS accepts student members as well.
Most schools with a paralegal program also have a student group for those majoring in paralegal studies. These groups usually feature guest speakers, field trips and networking events with alumni.
Students taking paralegal courses online who may not be able to attend on-campus meetings can find networking opportunities through LinkedIn’s Paralegal Network. State bar associations sometimes hold job fairs, and the Paralegal Jobs Network maintains a calendar of recruiting events across the country for industries including pharmaceutical, medical, technology and financial and business services, many of which are seeking paralegals.
What supplies or tools do I need for my paralegal training?
The main tool used in paralegal training is a personal computer, as well as various types of software such as Microsoft Office Suite, LexisNexis research tools, WestlawNext and optical character recognition (OCR). Paralegal students also use Post-It Flags for the Legal Market, which are brightly colored adhesive flags that help you locate important information quickly, as well as various textbooks and study guides. Other tools include fax machines, electronic databases, professional journals and law libraries.
Like traditional students, online students use personal computers and textbooks, but they will also need software for online study such as Adobe Captivate, Velocedge’s Communication And Distance Education (CADE) software, Moodle and Campfire. They may use a headset as well. Online students are also more likely to utilize online libraries, a necessity when researching cases, such as the 1 offered through Loyola University Chicago’s Law School.
Can you recommend any books to read during my paralegal training?
Paralegal Career for Dummies by Scott and Linda Hatch, founders of The Center for Legal Studies, provides information on basic paralegal tasks such as legal research and document preparation, as well as more advanced duties like office management. It is a comprehensive overview of the field and an ideal supplement for those enrolled in legal assistant training online.
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.
Practical Law Office Management by Brent Roper focuses on the managerial aspects of a paralegal’s job, including client relations, billing, law library management and more. This book is essential for those considering an advanced paralegal certificate and more responsibility in their firm.
Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates by Ross Guberman uses examples from the country’s most influential lawyers to teach effective legal writing. Paralegals frequently write reports and legal correspondence, so Guberman’s book is an important addition to their library.