Paralegal Program Prerequisites

One of the most vital people within a law firm is the paralegals, also known as legal assistants.

These individuals are hired, educated, and trained to work directly under the supervision of a lawyer or an attorney.

Levels of education for paralegals vary.

Some individuals receive on-the-job training or by taking courses through the private sector, others have associate’s degrees with a focus on law, and still others have bachelor’s of science degrees or bachelor of arts degrees.

Legal Assistant Pre-requisites

Legal Assistant Pre-requisites

There are several organizations that test and certify individuals who wish to become a paralegal.

An individual who passes the competency examinations that are offered through the four associations that are representative of the profession will be given the highest preference when applying for a job within a law firm.

Paralegal Programs: Where to Find One

There are many options for finding a paralegal program in your area.

Some of the options include four-year colleges or universities, two-year colleges, private schools, and online schools.

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Obtaining a four-year degree will give a student a wider variety of options when seeking employment as a paralegal.

For individuals that have other obligations outside of school such as a job or a family, online schools offer the most flexibility.

Lower tuition rates are a bonus for taking courses at a community or two-year college.

Open enrollment at this type of school offers the flexibility to finish courses at your own pace.

Educational Requirements

While it is not required to have a formal education in order to work as a paralegal, most law firms prefer to hire paralegals with some form of training or education.

Currently, there are over 600 schools and colleges that offer some type of formal paralegal training.

The four main types of programs typically accepted are:

  • Certificate
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor degree
  • Master degree

There are voluntary certification programs available as well, such as certified legal assistants and registered paralegals.

These programs are not required but will give an individual an advantage when seeking a career in the field.

Qualifications for Certified Legal Assistant

In order to become a certified legal assistant, individuals must complete all of the requirements as outlined by the NALA or National Association of Legal Assistants.

A two-day examination must be passed as well.

This examination is given by the Certifying Board of Legal Assistants. Individuals must renew their certification every 5 years and must prove they have taken 50 hours of continuing education courses during the five-year period.

Registered Paralegal Qualifications

In order to become a registered paralegal the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination (PACE) must be passed.

This examination is given by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

Renewal is every two years upon completion of 12 CLE credits.

Michael Morales

About Michael Morales

Michael Morales is the Webmaster and Editor in Chief for With a strong background in Web Publishing and Internet Marketing, he currently works as an independent consultant. A former paramedic and ems educator, he enjoys punishing himself doing triathlons and endurance sports. Michael currently lives in sunny Northern California, home of the highest tax rates in the world.

5 Responses to Paralegal Program Prerequisites

  1. Avatar
    Jane Gold #

    Some paralegal positions may have specific prerequisites related to the area of law in which you’ll work, such as knowledge of real estate law for a real estate paralegal.

  2. Avatar
    Scott Fish #

    Attention to detail and the ability to conduct thorough research are essential prerequisites for paralegals, as they play a huge role in case preparation and legal documents.

  3. Avatar
    Brooke Williams #

    An associate’s degree or a paralegal certificate is often required or highly recommended for entry-level paralegal positions.

  4. Avatar
    Amanda Price #

    It’s encouraging to see the demand for paralegals increasing. This gives me confidence in pursuing this career path.

  5. Avatar
    John Lewis #

    I’ve been thinking about entering the legal field, and this article provides a clear roadmap for starting as a paralegal.

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