Are you interested in working in the legal profession and want to earn a paralegal certification in Massachusetts?
Are you interested in learning how to obtain a Massachusetts paralegal certification to become a professional paralegal?
To learn how to start on a path to a paralegal certification in Massachusetts, read on.
Massachusetts Paralegal Certification
The most apparent profession in the legal arena is that of a highly trained lawyer who has met the challenging requirements of the Massachusetts bar association. However, earning a Juris Doctor (JD) degree is both time-consuming and pricey. So, many people choose to begin their legal career by earning a paralegal certification – coursework that is faster to complete and easier on the wallet.
A paralegal cannot lawfully give legal advice or act as a representative in a court of law. A paralegal with appropriate training has substantial knowledge of the law and legal system. Further, a paralegal’s work is delegated and overseen by an attorney licensed by the bar association of Massachusetts who, by delegating the work, takes complete responsibility for the paralegal’s actions and choices.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, like many other states, maintains no state regulations regarding the requirements for paralegals to practice in the state. As a result, it only takes a few steps to take to be ready to enter the legal profession as a paralegal in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts’ Rule 5.3 refers to paralegal professionals as paraprofessionals – nonlawyer professionals who must work under the direct supervision of a Massachusetts bar association attorney. And, according to Mass. Rule 5.3(c), the licensed attorney assumes full responsibility for paralegals’ conduct and ethical choices, at all times.
Massachusetts regulations and laws are silent and offer no guidance or state mandates that pertain to the minimum standards as they apply to paralegal certification. Thus, aspiring paralegals in Massachusetts may seek on-the-job training or educational/training programs in order to become gainfully employed paralegals.
Some of the work that is done by a professional paralegal includes –
- Draft motions.
- Prepare interrogatories.
- Manage caseloads.
- Summarize depositions, among many other legally related administrative and research duties.
Paralegal Education/Program Options
There are several types of educational programs for paralegals that prepare graduates to work for member attorneys of the bar association of Massachusetts. Individuals that are interested in working as a paralegal in Massachusetts can –
- Find a licensed Massachusetts bar association approved attorney who is willing to offer on-the-job training.
- Enroll in a paralegal certificate program and then find employment with a lawyer who is a member of the bar association of Massachusetts.
- Choose to enroll in a degree conferring paralegal program offered at an associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degree level and then apply to a law firm staffed with attorneys who are current members of the Massachusetts bar association.
When evaluating which paralegal pathway would best fit your career and educational objectives, it is critical to make sure that the paralegal program chose –
- Has been recognized and approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Has been accredited by an education or industry oversight agency.
Paralegal Certificate Programs
Paralegal certificate programs specifically focus their coursework on the topic at hand – paralegal studies. Certificate programs do not typically require the more comprehensive general education requirements found in degree programs. Some paralegal certificate programs have no requirements for applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree, although some certificate programs offer the paralegal certificate program to allow for specialization.
Paralegal Degree Programs
A paralegal program that awards an academic degree requires students to complete general education requirements, plus specialty coursework in paralegal studies. Paralegals with academic degrees are generally preferred by employers, especially in competitive markets. A paralegal degree is also helpful when meeting the eligibility requirements of the National paralegal certification exams.
National Paralegal Certification
Despite the fact the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has not set forth paralegal certification requirements, individuals who wish to work as a paralegal professional in the state can choose to become certified on a national level.
Essentially, the national paralegal certification is a credential that –
- Distinguishes the paralegal professional from his or her peers.
- Speaks to the credential holder’s proficiency in paralegal matters and the law.
The applicant must meet professional experience and education requirements to be eligible to take the national paralegal certification exams. Here are a few professional paralegal certification credentials-
- The PACE Certification – by the NFPA – the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
- The PCC Certification- by the NFPA – the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
- The CLA/CP Certification – by the NALA – National Association of Legal Assistants.
- The PP Certification – by the NALS – Association for Legal Professionals.