If you’re interested in becoming a paralegal in New Jersey, you’re not alone, and you have a wealth of options. The ABA stamp of approval lets the prospective employer know that the paralegal was educated through a program that abides by the organization’s high-quality standards. Currently, the professional group has approved more than 200 paralegal courses in NJ.
When looking for jobs after graduating from paralegal schools in New Jersey, an employer will be interested in seeing what type of education the applicant received.. It also helps if the paralegal plans to eventually pursue a higher law degree. Paralegal courses in NJ approved by the ABA are available at higher learning institutions that offer degrees like a Juris Doctor degree. Besides law schools, ABA paralegal courses are held at four-year universities, community colleges, and technical schools.
How We Ranked the Best Paralegal Programs in New Jersey
To rank the best paralegal programs in New Jersey, Online Paralegal Programs editors started with ABA-approved programs. With our initial pool in place, we ranked programs according to factors important to students’ real-life concerns: Cost, Graduation Rate, and Job Placement.
1. Brookdale Community College
Brookdale Community College’s Business and Social Science Institute offers an AAS in Paralegal studies that is recognized among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Brookdale Community College’s paralegal degree is approved by the ABA – The American Bar Association. Coursework includes Legal Research & Legal Writing, Torts, Family Law, Corporate Law, Wills and Estates, and Nursing Malpractice, to name a few. The course is not specifically designed for this purpose; some students find they can transfer credits from this paralegal program to more advanced studies.
Brookdale Community College was established in 1967. Brookdale Community College offers an open admission policy as long as the student has graduated high school or earned an equivalent GED. The school’s suburban location serves more than 14,000 students. Brookdale Community College has five satellite locations in Freehold, Hazlet, Wall Township, Neptune and Long Branch, in addition to its main campus in Lincroft.
Program: AAS in Paralegal Studies
2. Bergen Community College
Bergen Community College offers an AAS in Human Services/Legal Studies. Bergen Community College’s program has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), making the ASS degree among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Degree candidates graduate prepared to enter the workforce as paralegals, court reporters, or legal assistants. Students must complete 65 to 66 credit units to graduate. Coursework includes Legal Ethics, Paralegism, principles of Real Estate and Legal Writing, to name a few.
Bergen Community College was established in 1965. The three northern New Jersey campuses serve nearly 17,000 students studying on-campus, plus 7,500+ studying for adult education and continuing education completion certificates. BCC offers graduates an opportunity to attend a baccalaureate program from one of the state’s four-year schools. Bergen Community College offers accredited programs in the fields of dentistry, radiologic technology, physical therapy, legal nurse consultant, and law (paralegal).
Program: AAS in Human Services – Paralegal Studies
3. Essex County College
Essex County College’s Division of Social Services offers an AS in Paralegal Studies degree program that can be completed in as little as two years if no remedial coursework is necessary. Degree candidates must complete 24 credit units from the major course curriculum to graduate from the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Coursework includes Legal Writing/Research, Contracts & Torts, Litigation Processes, and Paralegal Law, among others. Graduates are prepared to enter into various legal settings, like corporations, the government, or a local law firm.
Essex County College is a public institution of higher learning that was established in 1966. Essex County College offers associate degrees from six academic divisions in nursing, social sciences, STEM, health sciences, business, and science (biology, physics, and chemistry). Essex County College’s campus is due west and only a few miles from downtown New York City.
Program: AS in Paralegal Studies
4. Fairleigh Dickinson University
Fairleigh Dickinson University offers an AS in Paralegal Studies degree program that is available in the evening or during a daytime program. The American Bar Association (ABA) has approved FDU’s paralegal studies two-year program, making FDU’s paralegal program among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Fairleigh Dickinson University’s coursework includes Family and Civil Law, Civil Litigation, Ethics, Mortgages/Real Estate, Legal Writing/Research, among others. Specialist law classes include advanced contracts, Elder Care Law, Environmental Law, Intellectual Law, and Landlord/Tenant Relations, to name a few.
Fairleigh Dickinson University was established in 1942. Fairleigh Dickinson University operates two campuses in New Jersey and satellite facilities online and in the United Kingdom. Fairleigh Dickinson University serves more than 10,500 students across its various educational facilities worldwide. Fairleigh Dickinson University is recognized as the largest private university in the Garden State of New Jersey.
Program: AS in Paralegal Studies
5. Mercer County Community College
Mercer County Community College offers an AAS in Paralegal Studies that is recognized among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Degree candidates complete 12 credit units in legal specialty plus 18 credit units in the paralegal degree’s core curriculum. Coursework includes Legal Ethics, Business Law, Criminal Law, Civil Litigation, and Legal Writing/Research, to name just a few. Mercer County Community College’s paralegal associate degree program has been approved by the ABA – the American Bar Association.
Mercer County Community College was established in 1966. The school’s suburban campus is home to more than 12,900 students. Many of Mercer County Community College’s degree programs have received specialized accreditation from industry oversight agencies. Students applying for Mercer County Community College may opt to dual enroll, which offers students a guaranteed transfer to six New Jersey-based colleges.
Program: AAS in Paralegal Studies
6. Middlesex County College
Middlesex County College offers an AS in Legal Studies degree program that has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Middlesex County College, Legal Studies degree program, is among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey as it prepares students in both the theoretical and practical functions of the legal system. Middlesex County College provides scholarship opportunities (3 scholarships of $2,000/year) to those paralegal students who have completed some prior paralegal coursework. Graduates of the MCC legal studies program work in a variety of industries – healthcare, banking, the government, social service agencies, and many different-sized businesses and corporations.
Middlesex County College was established in 1964. Middlesex County College is a two-year public school in central New Jersey. The school is home to more than 12,800 students studying at the Perth Amboy and Edison campuses. Middlesex County College’s campus is partially built upon a US Army arsenal that was officially closed in 1964.
Program: AS in Legal Studies
7. Montclair State University
Montclair State University’s Division of Justice Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree program in Justice Studies. MSU’s program is an award-winning degree program that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and recognized among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Additionally, MSU offers post-bachelor’s degree certificate program. Students must complete a seminar and an internship to graduate. The paralegal internship covers an entire semester and includes an eight-week+ placement of at least 90 hours. More than 50% of MSU’s paralegal graduates are employed as paralegals. Paralegal students take classes that cover real estate, civil ligations, dispute resolution, and family law, among others.
Montclair State University (MSU) is a public institution of higher learning that was established in 1908 as a teacher’s normal school, with the first campus dorm built several years later. MSU serves more than 20,000 students vying for degrees offered by the university’s eleven colleges/schools. Montclair State University holds the distinction of being the second-largest institution of higher education in New Jersey.
Program: BA in Justice Studies
8. Raritan Valley Community College
Raritan Valley Community College offers an AAS in Paralegal Studies. RVC’s program has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), making the Associate of Applied science degree program among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. Coursework for RVCC’s paralegal studies program includes Litigation, Legal Research, Torts, Business Law, and Business Math, among others. Degree candidates for the Raritan Valley Community College must complete 51 to 62 credit units to graduate.
Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) was established in 1965. The school has received specialized accreditation by the NJ Nursing Board, the American Bar Association, and Opticianry Commission. The school’s comprehensive library is the lending library for both counties. Raritan Valley Community College serves student residents from Somerset County and Hunterdon County, the first school in New Jersey, to represent two counties.
Program: AAS in Paralegal Studies
9. Rowan College at Burlington County
Rowan College at Burlington County offers an AAS in a Paralegal degree program that has been approved by the ABA – the American Bar Association. Coursework for the Rowan College at Burlington County paralegal program includes litigation practices, legal writing, family law, real property law, banking law, and real estate, to name a few. Degree candidates from one of the best paralegal programs in New Jersey must complete 60 credit units, plus an internship to graduate. The internship provides hands-on learning experiences for each student and requires 135 hours throughout one semester.
Rowan College at Burlington County was established in 1966 as a community college. The distance learning platform offered by RCBC has been recognized as the best online associate degree program provider in the state of New Jersey. Rowan College at Burlington County operates several locations in Mount Holly, Joint Base, and Willingboro.
Program: AAS in Paralegal
10. Rowan College of South Jersey
Rowan College of South Jersey’s Law & Justice Division offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in a Paralegal degree program that is recognized among the best paralegal programs in New Jersey. The paralegal degree program has received approval from the ABA – the American Bar Association. Transfer credits are acceptable up to 15 credits if earned through another ABA approved degree program. Degree candidates graduate prepared for gainful employment as legal assistants, title insurance administrators, paralegal, and compliance specialists.
Rowan College of South Jersey was established in 1966. A student may apply for dual enrollment at Rowan University if GPA criteria are met. Rowan College of South Jersey is home to nearly 9,800 students and a total staff of more than 700. Rowan College of South Jersey serves two NJ counties – Cumberland County and Gloucester County.
Program: AAS in Paralegal
Why are ABA-Approved Paralegal Programs Important?
The ABA stands for the American Bar Association, one of the most prominent legal organizations in the United States. ABA-approved paralegal programs in New Jersey have gone through a rigorous accreditation process. Paralegal schools in New Jersey usually offer ABA-approved programs since this allows for uniformity in legal education. Any law students who attend ABA-approved paralegal schools in New Jersey may be able to sit for the state bar examination. An ABA-approved education allows the legal student to access programs that will be widely accepted by law firms.
For paralegal schools in New Jersey to receive approval from the American Bar Association, the paralegal education program must meet the ABA’s set criteria and provide specific data to the ABA for review. Examples of information required by ABA-approved paralegal schools in New Jersey include past and current student enrollment, number of graduates by year, the background of paralegal faculty members, course offerings, and curriculum. The initial approval for paralegal schools in New Jersey lasts for seven years. After that period, schools must apply for renewal for the ABA approval status to remain valid.
Are there Lots of Jobs for Paralegals in New Jersey?
New Jersey paralegal jobs are plentiful throughout the state. One of the major benefits of pursuing a legal career in New Jersey is the proximity to multiple metropolitan locations. Depending on location in the state, the paralegal can choose to commute to law firms in Philadelphia or Manhattan. Although commuting is popular, prospective employees can find entry level paralegal jobs in New Jersey. Hundreds and hundreds of law firms are located in the state with multiple openings for paralegals. The number of paralegal jobs in New Jersey exceeds 20,000 with the state being among the largest sites for paralegal employment in the nation.
The prospective employee has different types of paralegal careers to pursue. As an example, he or she may choose to pursue patent paralegal jobs in New Jersey. Patent paralegals work with patent lawyers to conduct product research and know about rights as far as intellectual property matters. Other types of New Jersey paralegal jobs may be for in the area of family law, bankruptcy, immigration, and labor. The more expertise the position calls for, the higher the pay grade.
To choose what law firms to look for entry-level paralegal jobs in New Jersey, the applicant can research the top-grossing businesses. The law firms that show the most substantial profit can help narrow down the selection process. A profitable law firm is more likely to offer long-term job security and lucrative salary packages. Northern New Jersey cities such as Newark, Roseland, Florham Park, and Hackensack are typically home to the largest and highest-grossing law firms.
How Much Do Paralegals Make in New Jersey?
Before pursuing a legal career, it is normal to wonder, “How much does a paralegal make in NJ?” NJ paralegal salary packages are among the highest in the country. A NJ paralegal’s salary averages at $61,650 per year. New Jersey has the third-highest mean paralegal salary in the nation. Only Washington DC and Alaska present an increased annual paralegal wage. The industry that the paralegal chooses will also affect how much a paralegal makes. Paralegals employed by the federal government or that work in copyright law earn the most. NJ paralegal salary averages for state employees is $55,000 and a little lower when compared to other industries.
The average salary of the paralegal in North Jersey will be more than a paralegal in South Jersey. North Jersey is home to more prominent law firms and the starting pay for paralegals demonstrates this fact. However, there is still a benefit for choosing a position at a law firm in South Jersey. The cost of living is lower in South Jersey than in cities bordering New York City. Plus, South Jersey is closer to Philadelphia or a slightly longer commute to Washington DC. Washington DC offers the highest average salary for paralegals in the country and is located less than three hours away from towns in South Jersey.