Guide to an Online Paralegal Degree

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For quite a while lawyers have been a decent seller on the entertainment market, from movies to TV shows, dramas, comedies, hard-hitting miniseries; you can’t go for very long without running into a lawyer somewhere on TV. But for all of these TV shows and movies involving the law, paralegals are barely mentioned. If you know where to look, however, it’s easy to find someone with a paralegal degree at work. That dire moment in the courtroom when the judge is going to rule against the handsome lawyer protagonist, but then an unobtrusive man or woman walks down the aisle and hands off a note to the our hero. Suddenly, he smiles and with this new information the case is won.

That unobtrusive note passer? That was a paralegal. In the end it wasn’t the dashing lawyer that saved the day, but a legal assistant who won’t even be named in the credits.

It may not be real-life, but the parallels are there. Paralegals are not lawyers, and are not allowed to practice law. They are, however, the second set of eyes and hands that lawyers wish they had. The American legal system is a vast and complex beast, and between writing briefs, going over witness statements, reviewing case-law, drafting motions, checking contracts, and countless other things, lawyers simply do not have the time to do everything that they need to.

What is a Paralegal?
 

In trying to understand exactly what a paralegal is, it is best to first understand what a paralegal is not.

A Legal Assistant/Paralegal is not an Attorney.
 

The American Bar Association defines a paralegal as:

“A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

 

While paralegals are held to many of the same standards of ethics and confidentiality as attorneys, paralegals are forbidden from practicing law.

While state regulations define precisely what a paralegal may and may not do, in nearly all states, paralegals must work under the direct supervision of an attorney. And in all cases legal assistants/paralegals may not offer legal opinions or advice, set a fee, accept a case, or represent a client in court, all of which are generally considered the practice of law.

In essence, legal assistants/paralegals are the support staff whose efforts, when merged with those of an attorney’s, come together to create a greater whole.

 

What Does a Paralegal Do?
A paralegal’s duties may vary greatly depending on where they are employed, and on their particular specialization. A paralegal specializing in corporate law will likely spend more of their time looking at contracts, while a paralegal specializing in litigation will have more work related to trials. A paralegal’s day-to-day work also depends on where they work. In smaller law offices a paralegal might be more of a generalist, doing whatever task needs doing at the time. Whereas a paralegal in a large corporation may have only one or two specific tasks that they alone are responsible for.

Some common tasks for paralegals include but are not limited to:

  • Fact gathering and conducting legal research;
  • Summarizing depositions, documents, and testimony;
  • Conducting investigations and statistical and documentary research;
  • Drafting pleadings, discovery requests and responses;
  • Contacting and conferencing with clients (so long as the client is aware of the paralegal’s non-attorney status);
  • Coordinating all aspects of a case;
  • Locating and interviewing witnesses;
  • Preparing for and assisting at trial;
  • Conducting legal research;

 

Getting Your Paralegal Degree Online
 

With the recent growth of the profession, online paralegal degree programs are becoming more common by the day. So, with all of these programs out there how do you go about selecting the one that is right for you?

Research is the most important thing you can do when choosing an online degree program. The following are all important points to research and consider for each school:

  • The school’s accreditation
  • The school’s overall academic reputation
  • Tuition and fees
  • The distance learning method used
  • Are any credits you earn transferable?
  • What scholarships/financial aid are available?
  • Does the program have the field I want to specialize in?

When it comes to Online Paralegal Programs there is an additional question that needs answering. Do you plan on attending a program that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)?

Currently, the American Bar Association does not approve any fully online degree programs. As such, every program listed as ABA-Approved is hybridized to some degree. So, if physically being on campus for a portion of your education isn’t feasible, a Non-ABA Approved program might be what you’re looking for.

 

ABA-Approved Paralegal Programs
 

The American Bar Association is considered one of the largest voluntary professional associations in the world today. With nearly 400,000 members, it is also one of the most influential institutions in the world of law.

ABA-approved programs are carefully developed with input from various paralegal associations, bar associations, experienced legal experts, law firm representatives, and government agencies. ABA approval generally demonstrates a program’s high standards and consistency.

Having an ABA-approved degree is a nice leg up on the competition when applying for a job; many law firms and institutions today actually insist upon only hiring paralegals who have an American Bar Association approved degree. What follows are ABA-approved paralegal programs.

 

Anne Arundel Community College

Website

Tuition:
Residents of Anne Arundel County: $105
Residents of other Maryland Counties: $202
Residents of other states and foreign students: $357

Established in 1961, Anne Arundel Community College is a public, two-year institution and the largest single-campus community college in Maryland. AACC’s Paralegal Studies Program caters to individual interests and career objectives by allowing students to concentrate their areas of study on Litigation, Business, or General practice. All three of which are available to students in both the Degree and Certificate Programs.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Law Office Practice and Technology; Tort Law; Legal Ethics; Civil Procedure; Electronic Legal Research; Legal Research and Writing; Business Law 1; Business Law 2.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

 

Brookdale Community College

Website

Tuition: $270.50 per credit

Founded in 1967 on land that was originally a farm, Brookdale Community College currently offers two paths of paralegal study. The first, an accelerated program for those who already possess an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, will result in a Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate. The second is a full course of study that leads to an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies degree, that while not designed for transfer, may transfer in part or in its entirety to four-year schools.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Law and Litigation; Legal Research and Writing; Constitutional Law; Family Law; Professional Standards in Ethics for Legal Assistants; Introduction to Legal Nurse Consulting; Litigation Assistance Procedures; Torts; Computer Applications in Law; Criminal Procedure; Wills, Estates, and Probate; Corporate Law Procedures; and Nursing Malpractice.

Accreditation: Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

 

Columbus State Community College

Website

Tuition:
Ohio Resident: $135.93 per semester credit hour
Non-Ohio Resident: $301.03 per semester credit hour

The Paralegal Studies Program at Columbus State Community College is taught by a faculty with decades of experience working within the American legal system, whether it be as attorneys, paralegals, or government officials. Students who graduate from CSCC with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies are eligible to transfer 100% of their credits to Kent State University to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies. Students are also eligible to join the Columbus State Student Paralegal Association (SPA), the benefits of which include seminars, speakers and panel discussions, as well as scholarship opportunities.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate Degree in Legal Assisting
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Law Office Technology; Math for Business Apps; Civil Practice and Procedure; Advanced Legal Research; Family Law; Torts and Contracts; Administrative Law; Business Organizations; Introduction to Psychology; Introduction to Sociology; Probate Law (elective); Insurance Law (elective); Real Estate (elective).

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

 

Community College of Philadelphia

Website

Tuition: $26,910

Nova Southeastern University is a private non-profit university with a main campus located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. NSU’s online Paralegal Studies Program is focused on preparing students to support the research and work-related needs of lawyers while increasing students’ knowledge base of law with particular emphasis on torts, contracts, wills and trusts, civil procedure, litigation, family law, business organizations, real estate, and criminal law.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Law and the Legal Profession; Legal Research and Writing I; Computer Applications for the Legal Profession; Criminal Law and Procedure; Real Estate Practice I; Torts and Civil Litigation; Wills, Trusts, and Estates I; Business Relations and Organizations; Family Law; Legal Research and Writing II; Real Estate Practice II; Advanced Litigation; Wills, Trusts, and Estates II; Corporate Regulation and Change; Advanced Practicum in Paralegal Studies.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

 

Phoenix College

Website

Tuition: $215 per credit hour

Established in 1920, Phoenix College currently offers 150 degree and certificate programs, and serves 28,000 students each year. The Paralegal Studies Program at Phoenix College places emphasis on developing effective written and oral communication skills, team work, critical thinking skills, computer proficiency, and legal research techniques.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Law; Civil Procedures I; Civil Procedures II; Legal Writing; Ethics and Professional Practice; Contract Law; Legal Research; Tort Law; Business Organizations; Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing; Litigation Technologies; Civil Interviewing and Investigation; Paralegal Studies Portfolio Capstone.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

 

Roosevelt University

Website

Tuition: $759 per credit hour

Roosevelt University is an independent, non-profit, university that was founded in 1945. The Paralegal Studies Program at Roosevelt is offered in two different formats: a full-time day schedule and a part-time evening schedule, though additional scheduling options are available on a case-by-case basis to meet the needs of individual students. The full-time schedule is an intensive format consisting of 24 semester hours of course work, and lasts for approximately four and a half months. The part-time evening schedule is designed for students to take one class at a time in seven, 8-week sessions and one, 6-week session that results in finishing the course in a little over a year.

Online Programs Offered:

 

  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Ethics and Professionalism; Legal Research; Civil Law; Pre-Trial Litigation; Commercial Law; Trial and Post-Trial Litigation; Legal Writing; Legal Technology; Paralegal Internship; Real Estate; Intellectual Property; Corporation and LLC Law; Bankruptcy; Labor and Employment Law; Introduction to Special Education Law.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

 

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Website

Tuition: $496 per credit hour

Founded in 1840 by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has over 40 years of experience in distance education, boasts a whopping $5,000,000 in scholarships given to students every year. The Paralegal Studies Program at SMWC focuses on the study of law in its relation to politics, society, and history, while encouraging students to examine how history, politics, and the economy affect and are affected by the law.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Law, Ethics, and Society; Legal Research; Computers in the Law; Commercial Transactions; WESTLAW Enrichment; Advanced Legal Research and Writing; Legal Practicum; Legal Communication; Interviewing and Investigation; Theories of Liability; Civil Litigation; Family Law; Intellectual Property; Property Law and Applications; Death and Taxes; Environmental Law (elective); Women and the Law (elective); Criminal Law (elective); Corporate Law and Legal Entities (elective); Law Office Administration (elective); CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

 

St. Petersburg College

Website

Tuition:
In-state: $3,292
Out-of-State: $11,524

Founded in 1927, St. Petersburg College was Florida’s first two-year college, as well as the state’s first community college to offer bachelor’s degrees (2001). St. Petersburg College offers three programs in paralegal studies; Associate in Science Degree, Bachelor of Applied Science, and a Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate. The classes in SPC’s Paralegal Program are taught exclusively by practicing attorneys and sitting judges from the local area, ensuring that students will have a firm grasp on what it takes to make it in the legal world.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Paralegal Studies A.S. Degree
  • Paralegal Studies B.A.S degree
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Business Law I; Introduction to Paralegalism; Legal Research and Writing; Techniques of Interview and Investigation; Computerized Legal Research; Law Office Management; Advanced Legal Research; Legal Assistant Seminar and Work Experience;

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

 

Union County College

Website

Tuition:
Union County Residents: $177.00 per credit/hour
Out of County/State/International: $354.00 per credit/hour

Founded in 1933, Union County College is a two-year, public, community college located in Union County, New Jersey. During the course of achieving a Paralegal Studies Certificate, students will examine the roles played by paralegals in the American legal system, and further explore the ethical regulations concerning the practice of law.

 

Online Programs Offered:

  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Legal Research; Legal Writing; Contract Law; Litigation I; Property Law; Litigation II; Law Office Technology; Tort Law; Family Law; Criminal Law; Wills, Trusts, and Estates; Business Organizations; Bankruptcy Law; Employment Law; Immigration Law; Paralegal Internship.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

 

University of California, Irvine

Website

Tuition: $3,740

With over 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff, University of California, Irvine is one of the most dynamic of the 10 general campuses in the University of California (UC) system. UCI’s Paralegal Studies Program is taught by practicing attorneys and paralegals from leading law firms, corporations, and non-profit organizations. The program is designed to turn students into capable, ethical, professionals by helping them attain a greater understanding of the rules of professional conduct and their application to legal professionals, while developing practical litigation and transactional skills.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Legal Research; Fundamentals of the Paralegal Profession; Contracts; Legal Writing Civil Litigation I; Civil Litigation II; Ethics for the Paralegal; Technology Practicum for the Paralegal; Corporate Law; Criminal Law; Employment Law; Family Law; Business Law; Bankruptcy Law.

Accreditation: Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Non-ABA Approved Paralegal Programs
 

Not being able to get an ABA-approved degree isn’t the end of the world, and it should in no way discourage you from pursuing a career as a paralegal, if that is where your passion lies. It should, however, make you more discerning in the program that you eventually select. Whatever program you choose should be well rounded, with a mix of courses in substantive law, as well as Torts, Criminal Law, Ethics, Real Estate Law, Estates and Wills, and Family Law.

 

Brandman University

Website

Tuition: $500 per credit hour

Established as Chapman University College in 1958, Brandman’s original purpose was to provide high quality education to the El Toro Marine Corps Station. Brandman University’s Legal Studies program will guide students through the intricacies of forensic psychology, correctional systems, diversity, conflict resolution, and community corrections, while delving into the impact contemporary legal issues have within our governing systems, and working to understand Supreme Court decisions.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– White Collar Crime; Foundations of Law; Legal Research and Writing Constitutional Governance; Contracts Interviewing, Negotiation, and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution); Business Organizations; Torts; Litigation and Trial Advocacy; Ethics in a Legal Environment; Legal Studies Capstone.

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

 

Bryan University

Website

Tuition: $341.00 per credit hour

Bryan University was established in 1940 and began as the Bryan Stenotype School, with only one-classroom and three students. As the college has grown it has maintained its dedication to a strong core focus on student and employer-driven principles of excellence. The one-of-a-kind ELSSA™ simulation lab at Bryan University allows students to experience real-world scenarios using cutting-edge industry software, helping them gain the practical expertise and experience that employers demand.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Academic in Paralegal Studies and Litigation Technologies
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies and Litigation Technologies

Online Courses (examples)

– Civil Procedure; Introduction to Law Firm Technology; Legal Research and Writing I; Torts; Business Organizations and Contract Law; Family and Criminal Law; Legal Research and Writing IIE-Discovery Paralegal I; Paralegal Simulation Lab A; E-Discovery Paralegal II; Paralegal Simulation Lab B; Current Events in the Industry; Management and Communications; Entrepreneurship; Legal Research and Writing III; Commercial and Bankruptcy Litigation; Property Law; Legal Office Productivity and Database Management; Trial Practice.

Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools–ACICS

 

Bryant and Stratton College

Website

Tuition: $553

Founded in 1854, Bryant and Stratton College is a public, for-profit college with almost 10,200 students across 19 locations in four states including their Online Education Division. In addition to the A.A.S in Paralegal Studies, Bryant and Stratton offers a variety of Certificates designed for transfer into an associated Bryant and Stratton degree program. The Paralegal Basic certificate is equivalent to five college-level courses and covers basic and advanced law research methods, legal document preparation, contract law and civil litigation.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Legal Studies; Contract Law; Civil Litigation; Legal Research and Writing I; Law Office Management and Technology; Torts and Remedies; Criminal Law and Procedures; Legal Research and Writing II; Paralegal Capstone.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

 

Darton State College

Website

Tuition: $125 per credit

The Paralegal Studies Program at Darton State College is aimed at preparing students with a broad knowledge base in the various areas of law that they are likely to encounter once they graduate. The program is designed to give students an understanding of the various substantive and procedural areas of law while instilling a high regard for ethical behavior, professional responsibility, and confidentiality.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– The Understanding of Law; Litigation and Trial Practice; Real Estate Law; Contract Law; Tort Law; Bankruptcy Law; Employment Law; Criminal Law and Procedure; General Psychology; Principles of Sociology.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

 

Drury University

Website

Tuition: $299 per credit hour

Drury University was founded in 1873 as a private liberal arts college. Since then it as remained relatively small, catering to only 3,690 total students. Despite its size, Drury’s Paralegal Studies Program packs quite the punch; in 2015 the Open Education Database (OEDB) ranked Drury’s University College of Continuing Professional Studies’ Paralegal Program second in its listing of the top online paralegal programs in the nation.

 

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to the Law; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Interviewing and Investigating; Litigation; Tort Law; Social Security/Workers Compensation Law; Family Law; Paralegal Practicum.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

 

Everest University

Website

Tuition: $337 per credit

With its campuses across the United States, joining Everest University makes you a part of a continually growing national community of students. The two available Paralegal Study programs at Everest University offer students multiple options as to how they choose to pursue their education. The 24 month Associates Degree can easily be shifted into the 48 month Bachelor’s Degree should you decide to take your education to the next level.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Criminal Procedure and the Constitution; Legal Research and Writing I; Civil Litigation I; Torts; Legal Research and Writing II; Contract Law; 4 Civil Litigation II; International Law; Workers Compensation and Employment Benefit Law; Rules of Evidence; Law and Medicine; Advanced Tort Law; Administrative Law; Elder Law; Employment Law; Concepts of Criminal Law; Criminal Justice Ethics and Liability; Cultural Diversity for Criminal Justice Professional; Private Investigations I.

Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

 

Franklin Pierce University

Website

Tuition: $380 per credit

The Undergraduate Paralegal Studies Certificate can be earned 100% online. While similar to a Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate, the Undergraduate Certificate does not qualify someone to work as a Paralegal. Instead, the certificate is almost a leg-up towards a future degree, as the 30 credits earned are intended to transfer to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree at Franklin Pierce University.

 

Online Programs Offered:

  • Undergraduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Paralegal Studies; Legal Analysis, Research and Writing; Tort Law; Probate Law; Litigation; Real Estate Law; Family Law; Corporate and Business Law; Criminal Law; Microcomputer Applications.

Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC)

 

The George Washington University

Website

Tuition: $800 per credit hour

The George Washington University was created in 1821 through an Act of Congress; it has stood the test of time and is currently the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia, serving over 26,000 students. GW’s online paralegal studies program is one of the few paralegal master’s degrees in the country. The program is specifically designed for working professionals who seek to expand their horizons and advance in their career through further study.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Master of Professional Studies in the Field of Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Practicum; American Jurisprudence; Legal Research and Writing; Litigation; Contracts; Advanced Legal Writing; Business Entities; Administrative Law; International Law Government Contracts Law; Intellectual Property Law; Introduction to Health Care Corporate Compliance; Compliance with Laws and Regulations I; Compliance with Laws and Regulations II; Case Studies in Health Care Corporate Compliance.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

 

Herkimer County Community College

Website

Tuition: $278.00 per credit hour

Herkimer County Community College is a distance learning powerhouse. Not only are more than 40 percent of the students enrolled at Herkimer at least partly engaged in distance education courses, but the school can also boast being ranked the second best community college in New York State by Schools.com. For their Paralegal Studies Program, Herkimer has transfer agreements with a number of four-year colleges and universities to provide a seamless transfer of credits, including: Franklin University, Kaplan University, Berkeley College, and Bellevue University.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Intro to Law for Paralegals; Business Law I; Business Law II; Legal Research & Writing; Civil Litigation and Procedure; Comp Software for the Law Off; Real Estate Law; Administration of Estates; Torts & Personal Injury; Family Law; American Government; Constitutional Law.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

 

Herzing University

Website

Tuition: $540 per credit

Herzing University’s Legal Studies Program is entirely online, and thus non-ABA approved, whereas their paralegal programs at New Orleans and Atlanta are campus based and approved by the American Bar Association.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Accounting I; Finance; Administrative Law; Legal Research; Contract Law; Torts; Family Law; Ethics and Paralegal Professionalism; Law Office Procedures; Civil Litigation; Legal Writing; NALA Certification Review; Legal Office Administration; Constitutional Law (elective); Employment Law and Labor Relations (elective).

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

 

Hodges University

Website

Tuition: $530 per credit hour

Established in 1990 as International College, Hodges University has designed their Paralegal Studies Program to be delivered either online or in a classroom. All law courses are taught by experienced legal professionals that hold at least a Juris Doctorate Degree.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Law; Civil Procedure; Torts; Contracts; Legal Research and Writing; Legal Ethics; eDiscovery; Data Privacy and Social Media.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

 

Kaplan University

Website

Tuition: $385.00

Originally founded in 1937 as the American Institute of Commerce (AIC), Kaplan University currently serves as a major hub for distance learning. Kaplan currently has over 38,000 degree-seeking online and campus-based students, 94% of whom complete their coursework in online programs. Since 2001, Kaplan University has provided degrees to over 6,500 legal studies graduates.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Torts; Introduction to Legal Research; Introduction to Legal Analysis and Writing; Legal Ethics; Constitutional Law; Law and Society; Legal Philosophy

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission

 

Keiser University

Website

Tuition:
$669 per credit hour

Over the course of the 60 credit hours required to receive an Associate of the Arts degree in Paralegal Studies from Keiser University, students will come to have a sound understanding of legal practice in the United States, and develop the analytical and technical skills that are crucial to a successful career in law.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of the Arts in Legal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Legal Research and Writing I; Criminal Law; Contracts; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Civil Litigation; Torts Law; Family Law; Real Property.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

 

Liberty University Online

Website

Tuition: $435 per credit hour

Founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College, Liberty University Online now has 16 schools and colleges, offers more than 520 programs to over 110,000 students, 95,000 of whom are enrolled online. With the recent growth in the paralegal profession, Liberty’s three programs of study offer students a variety of ways in which to pursue their education, from an Associate’s degree up to a Bachelor’s, as well as an Undergraduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies that can be put towards a Bachelor’s degree.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Foundations of Law; Legal Research and Writing; Real Estate Transactions & Property; Tort Law; Civil Practice; Criminal Practice and Procedure; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Family Law; Corporate and Business Organization Law;

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

 

Miller-Motte College Online

Website

Tuition: $273

Established in 1916 with only a single campus, Miller-Motte College has expanded to include 17 campuses across six different states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Mississippi. The Paralegal Studies Program at Miller-Motte stresses practical and specific paralegal skills, which are chosen to meet the employment and personnel training needs of almost any employer, be they attorneys, corporations, government agencies, law firms, or insurance companies.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Intro to Legal Systems; Business Law; Criminal Law & Procedure; Torts; Contract Law; Legal Research & Writing; Civil Litigation; Wills, Trusts, & Estates Administration; Constitutional Law; Real Estate Law; Family Law; Legal Office Systems.

Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)

 

Minnesota School of Business

Website

Tuition: $390 per credit

The Minnesota School of Business was founded in 1877, and began in a simple three-room building where a professor and his assistant taught bookkeeping, shorthand, English, and penmanship. Look at it now: MSB’s incredibly diverse and expansive course catalog is taught by experienced attorneys and paralegals, and stresses hands-on practice to better prepare students for entering the workforce.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Legal Terminology; Introduction to Paralegal Studies; Introduction to the Legal Profession; Legal Research I; Real Estate; Torts; Criminal Law and Procedure; Constitutional Issues; American Legal Systems; Litigation I; Law Office Procedures and Technology; Contracts; Administrative Law; Legal Writing I; Ethics for the Law Office; Family Law; AAS Paralegal Internship; Law Office Management; Interviewing and Investigation; Probate Practice; Cyber Law; Bankruptcy; Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents; Intellectual Property; Corporate Business Structures; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Field Preparation; Legal Information Management; Case Studies in Legal Administrative Management.

Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)

 

Mohave Community College

Website

Tuition: $283.50

When it was founded in 1971, Mohave Community College had only 27 courses for 1,068 students, whereas in 2008-2009, Mohave Community College had approximately 13,000 students attending. The skills taught in MCC’s Paralegal Studies Programs are designed to facilitate a student’s transition into the workplace of their choice, not just that of paralegals. The skills translate just as easily into title examiner, trust officer, contract clerk, legal investigator or law firm administrator, or as a foundation for further legal education including later enrollment in law school.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Certificate of Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Report Writing; Civil Law and Litigation; Contract Law; Criminal Law and Procedure; Tort Law; Property Law and Real Estate Transactions; Legal Research and Writing II; Family Law; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Corporation Law; Bankruptcy.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

 

National American University Online

Website

Tuition: $337 per credit hour

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
    The Paralegal Studies degree from National American University provides students with the technical and substantive legal knowledge needed to be a critical part of a legal team. Students graduating from National American University are able and qualified to seek certification from the National Association of Legal Assistance (NALA), thereby sitting for the CLA exam and can receive the title of “Certified Paralegal” or “CP” after successfully passing the exam.

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Legal Principles; Legal Research I; Torts; Civil Procedure; Legal Writing; Law Office Technology; Professional Ethics and Law Office Procedures; Classica Rhetoric in a Digital Age; Employment Law; Wills, Trusts, and Probate; Evidence/Exclusionary Rule; Bankruptcy; Elder Law; Practical Legal Investigation; Litigation and Trial Practice.

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

 

Penn Foster College

Website

Tuition: $79 per credit

Founded in 1890, Penn Foster currently has over 133,000 active students, and has had more than 13 million people enrolled in its college, career school and high school to further their education. In that vein, all credits from all paralegal courses at Penn Foster Career School are eligible for transfer to Penn Foster’s Paralegal Studies Associates degree. Graduates of the program are also eligible to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) certification examination.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Introduction to Paralegal Studies; Information Literacy; Legal Terminology and Critical Thinking; English Composition; Ethics; Law and the Legal System; Torts; Business Law 1; Business Law 2; Civil Litigation; Legal Research and Writing; Criminal Litigation; Business and Technical Writing; Family Law; Real Estate Law; Wills and Estates.

Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

 

Rasmussen College

Website

Tuition: $324 per credit

Rasmussen College has campuses in six different states, and offers a variety of ways for students to attend their Paralegal Studies Programs, which can be done entirely online, entirely at once of their campuses, or a blend between on-campus and online. With more and more adults seeking continuing education, a flexible platform for learning is incredibly appealing.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Courses (examples)

– Criminal Law and Procedures; Crime and the Courtroom; Introduction to Law and the Legal System; Civil Litigation and Procedure I; Civil Litigation and Procedure II; Contracts: Managing Legal Relationships; Law Office Technology: Cyberspace and the Paralegal Profession; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Corporate Law; Torts: Auto Accidents and Other Legal Injuries; Real Estate Law; Family Law.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Regent University Online

Website

Tuition: $395 per credit hour

Regent University’s Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies is offered entirely online. The program reinforces the foundations of paralegals: legal terminology, research and writing skills, drafting motions, and clerical and management skills.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Legal Writing and Research; Introduction to Judicial Systems; Investigation in Litigation; Law Office Environment; Civil Litigation; Law and Ethics; Family Law; Personal Injury Law; Criminal Law and Procedure; Contract Law; Real Estate Law; Immigration Law; Intellectual Property Law; Wills, Trusts and Probate Law.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Rio Salado College

Website

Tuition: $215 per credit hour

Rio Salado’s Paralegal program provides students with the option of either attaining a Certificate of Completion of Paralegal Studies or going directly to an Associate in Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies. One of the top benefits of Rio Salado’s program is access to the otherwise costly WestlawNext. WestlawNext is one of the industry’s leading legal research systems named “Best Of” in 2012-2015 by the National Law Journal.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Certificate of Completion in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Ethics for the Paralegal; Legal Foundations for Paralegals; Paralegal Fundamentals of Litigation; Paralegal Litigation; Paralegal Business Law; Introduction to Tort Law; Paralegal Writing; Paralegal Research; Law Office Technology for the Paralegal; Family Law for the Paralegal; Elder Law for the Paralegal; Bankruptcy Law for the Paralegal; Corporate Law for the Paralegal; Paralegals and Environmental Law; Paralegal Internship Skills; Arizona Constitution; U.S. Constitution.

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

 

Virginia College

Website

Tuition: $365 per credit hour

Founded in 1985, Virginia College has expanded a great deal in only 31 years. Between 1992 and 2014, Virginia College opened 27 campuses. The Paralegal Studies Programs at VC are for those seeking entry into the workforce, those who want to advance in their career through self-improvement, or those who may have already accumulated credits towards a degree in paralegal studies and seek to complete it.

Online Programs Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Online Courses (examples)

– Criminal Law; Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration; Family Law; Civil Litigation; Bankruptcy Law; Paralegal Certification Exam Review; Real Estate Law; Administrative Law; The American Legal System; Constitutional Law; Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR); Civil and Criminal Procedure; Advanced Civil Litigation.

Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)

Paralegal Associations
 

If you are interested in furthering your career, joining a professional association is a good place to start.

Professional Associations are generally nonprofit organizations with certain goals in mind, usually furthering a profession or the interests and well being of those engaged in that profession. Associations often have their own code of ethics that members are required to abide by; this too is a method of advancing the profession as it encourages credibility and trustworthiness.

Beyond joining a community entirely populated by people with similar professional interests, there are many opportunities for those who join Professional Associations. Continued education is a frequent theme among professional associations, and many have seminars, expos, and lessons in order to keep members at the forefront of their field. Professional associations also frequently keep track of job openings and internships, so joining as a student allows you to start networking with professionals before you ever enter the workforce. It could also give you a leg up when it’s time to find a job.

 

ABA

The American Bar Association

The American Bar Association is the world’s largest legal organization. Many employers only choose to accept employees who have attained a degree from an ABA-approved program. Beyond joining a community filled with individuals who share your professional interests, members also receive access to the ABA’s unparalleled resources, including the most widely read legal journal in the country, the ABA Journal.

 

NALA

National Association of Legal Assistants

The National Association of Legal Assistants is the nation’s leading professional association for paralegals, and oversees paralegal certification. Incorporated in 1975, NALA plays an integral part in the legal community and is comprised of over 18,000 paralegals, The NALA Certifying Board for Paralegals is responsible for content, standards and administration of the Certified Paralegal Program.

 

IPMA

The International Practice Management Association

The International Practice Management Association was founded in 1984, and was originally called the Legal Assistant Management Association (LAMA). More recently it was known as the International Paralegal Management Association (IPMA). IPMA’s continuing mission is to advocate for the effective use and management of paralegals and other practice support professionals, while promoting proficiency and professionalism among its members.

 

NALS

The Association of Legal Professionals

NALS was established in 1929, incorporated as the National Association of Legal Secretaries in 1949, and finally renamed NALS, The Association of Legal Professionals in 1999. NALS has been certifying individuals since 1960, longer in fact than any other legal support professional association. NALS has three levels of certification: Accredited Legal Professional (ALP), Professional Legal Secretary (PLS), and the Professional Paralegal (PP). Prospective members of NALS must work in a legal field and agree to adhere to the NALS Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

 

NFPA

National Federation of Paralegal Associations

The National Federal of Paralegal Associations was created as a non-profit federation, and serves as a policy-oriented, issues-driven professional association that is comprised of more than 50 member associations, which represent over 9,000 individual members. The NFPA has its own Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Guidelines for Enforcement that lays out the ethical guidelines and standards for conduct to which all paralegals should aspire.

 

AAFPE

American Association for Paralegal Education

The American Association for Paralegal Education recognizing the need to improve access to the legal system promotes quality paralegal education, and helps develop educational standards to better prepare graduates to perform their role in the delivery of legal services.

 

ALA

Association of Legal Administrators

ALA was established in 1971 to provide support to legal professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments and government legal agencies. To this effect the Association of Legal Administrators brands itself as the “undisputed leader in the business of law and law practice management.” The ALA provides a great deal of educational materials, from live webinars, to podcasts, and even an annual conference and expo.

 

NPA

The National Paralegal Association

Simply put, the NPA is an association where employers post job openings and job seekers attempt to find jobs, limited solely to the field of paralegals.

 

OCPA

The Orange County Paralegal Association

The Orange County Paralegal Association is a professional association for paralegals located in Southern California; it is affiliated with both NALA and University of California at Irvine.

 

HMPA

Houston Metropolitan Paralegal Association

Like OCPA before it, the HMPA is another example of a local association rather than a national association. Instead of changing things on a national scale, HMPA goal is to promote the professional advancement of paralegals in the Houston metropolitan area.

 

Further Readings
 

Publications

 

Paralegal Today

Website

Paralegal Today is the only independent magazine serving the paralegal community, and seeks to help its readers excel in the workplace by keeping them abreast of national news, trends and professional happenings that affect paralegals.

 

@Law

Website

Formerly known as The Docket, The Association of Legal Professionals (NALS) has been publishing this quarterly magazine for over 50 years. @Law combines a graphic intensive layout with high quality articles on current legal issues, office trends, ethics, and many more topics of interest to paralegals.

 

National Paralegal Reporter Magazine

Website

Published quarterly by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, National Paralegal Reporter magazine covers a wide range of topics of note to paralegals, such as articles on Real Estate, Eminent Domain, Fashion Law, and many more.

 

Facts and Findings

Website

This bi-monthly journal is published by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) has a primary focus on educational articles written by paralegals, attorneys and other experts. Each issue also has columns on ethics, technology and software.

 

KNOW: A Magazine for Paralegals

Website

Written by leaders in the field, KNOW: A Magazine for Paralegals features tools, tactics and strategies for maintaining a successful work life and lifestyle balance in the stressful world of paralegals, while furthering your education with helpful articles that run the gamut from ethics to detecting corporate fraud.

Reference Books

 

A Uniform System of Citation

Website

Law students, lawyers, scholars, judges, and paralegals have come to rely on “The Bluebook” for its unique method of citation. A Uniform System of Citation truly lives up to its name, as it sets the standard for citation in legal publications.

 

Basic Administrative Law for Paralegals

Website

Written specifically for paralegals, the book is a clear and straightforward introduction to administrative law, going on to explain how administrative agencies are created, structured, and how they function.

 

Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals

Amazon

Now in its seventh edition, Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals focuses on advances in technology and how it is used to support a litigation case, while guiding students through the entire litigation process, from the time the client walks into the office, through trial and post-judgment.

Introduction to Paralegalism: Perspectives, Problems and Skills

Amazon

Introduction to Paralegalism seeks to provide real world context to new paralegals, while exploring the dynamic of working in a modern law office setting. Particular attention is paid to the ethical guidelines that lawyers and paralegals must follow.