Paralegal School Information
Paralegal 411 is a comprehensive site designed to help you learn about paralegal schools and careers. Our resources include information on career paths, career interviews, salaries, certification options, our annual scholarship, and much more for those interested in learning more about the paralegal field.
Paralegal degree programs are available at over 900 colleges and universities across the United States and are designed to train future paralegals to work in law firms, corporations, or government. In addition to traditional on-campus programs, numerous schools offer online programs at the certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. Over 260 paralegal programs in the United States are American Bar Association (ABA) approved.
Paralegal School Facts
- There are 913 colleges or universities that offer a paralegal or legal assistant degree program in the United States.1
- 268 schools offer ABA-approved programs for paralegals/legal assistants.
- 341 schools offer certificate programs for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 781 schools offer associate’s degree programs for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 177 schools offer bachelor’s degree programs for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 38 schools offer advanced degree programs for paralegals/legal assistants.1
Click on your state in the list of states below to learn about paralegal degree programs in your area.
Paralegal School Information by State
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- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
The Basics: Paralegal Do’s and Don’ts
What Does a Paralegal Do?
A paralegal is trained in legal matters and assists lawyers with researching facts for cases, preparing documents, maintaining files, and preparing for trial. Paralegals must work under the supervision of an attorney and are commonly employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies, though opportunities for paralegals exist in other industries. Paralegals’ tasks may vary from being more specialized (in larger firms) to more generalized (in smaller firms). Specific tasks may include:
- Researching and investigating facts or laws related to a case
- Maintaining files and documents for various cases
- Interviewing witnesses to gather and investigate evidence
- Writing reports and compiling legal documents such as memos, briefs, depositions, or procedural motions
- Taking notes for attorneys
- Working with teams of other paralegals, attorneys, and staff on cases
What Don’t Paralegals Do?
Paralegals cannot provide legal services or advice directly to the public. Instead, they must work under the supervision of an attorney, who is ultimately liable for their work. Paralegals cannot be called “officers of the court,” cannot be “counsel of record” in court proceedings, and cannot sign court documents (except in limited circumstances, such as functioning as a notary). Paralegals can voluntarily become certified by organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), but in the US there is no status of “licensed paralegal” in the sense that an attorney can be a “licensed attorney.” However, in addition to voluntary certification, in some states paralegals are required to meet certain standards and become “certified” or “registered” at the state level.
Recent Paralegal Career Interviews
Read our career interviews with current legal professionals who share their career paths and advice for students who are preparing to graduate. Click on a profile image below to go to the individual’s interview.
Vicky La Celle
President, Orange County Paralegal Association
CEO of the Paralegal Knowledge Institute
Pioneer and Leader in the Paralegal Field
President, Western New York Paralegal Association
Popular Paralegal Schools
University of Cincinnati: Highly regarded as a leader in paralegal education, the University of Cincinnati offers several programs in paralegal studies, including a bachelor’s degree, a minor, and a professional certificate. The paralegal program at the University of Cincinnati prepares students through extensive study within the field and readies its graduates for advanced study or immediate employment. The curriculum is extensive and includes focus area studies with courses such as Employment Law, Administrative Law, and Environmental Law, among others.
University of Memphis: Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the University of Memphis offers a four-year Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) with a concentration in legal studies. Legal studies concentration courses include professional paralegal core courses and legal-related electives. Ethics, legal research, and civil procedure are among the required courses in the program. University of Memphis prides itself on preparing students to embark on successful careers in the legal field.
Georgetown University: The Georgetown University paralegal program is known for its academic rigor and cutting edge curriculum. The program is approved by the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE), the International Practice Management Association (IPMA), and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The program is designed to be completed in just one year or three 15-week semesters and is flexible for working professionals with evening and summer courses. Program graduates acquire an understanding of the essential elements of law as well as critical thinking and decision-making skills within the context of the duties of a paralegal.
Villanova University: The Villanova University paralegal program confers a certificate in paralegal studies upon completion. Students may pursue the certificate full- or part-time; the part-time evening program can be completed in one year while the full-time day program can be completed in just 16 weeks. Both programs include courses in legal principles, legal research, and ethics. To be eligible for admission, students must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. The paralegal program at Villanova University is approved by the American Bar Association.
Louisiana State University: The Louisiana State University paralegal program can be completed in as little as 12 months with full-time study. The program is designed for working adults, with the majority of courses held in the evenings. Prospective students must have at least 45 college credits and a minimum grade point average of 2.3. The LSU paralegal certificate program is the only non-credit paralegal program in the state of Louisiana that holds approval from the American Bar Association.
University of San Diego: The University of San Diego paralegal studies program offers flexible delivery options, with classes during the day or evening. The full-time Intensive Day Program can be completed in as little as one term, while the part-time Evening Program can be completed in under one year. The curriculum helps students develop foundational knowledge of the legal system as well as skills in legal research, civil and business litigation, and intellectual property law. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college or be a current USD undergraduate with at least 70 or more semester credits. The paralegal program at the University of San Diego is approved by the American Bar Association.
Popular Online Paralegal Programs
Boston University (online): Boston University’s online Certificate in Paralegal Studies provides a flexible and comprehensive program of study to develop the skills needed to excel as a paralegal. The program emphasizes all of the competencies expected by today’s paralegal employers, including the use of specialized law technologies and research databases as well as advanced legal writing. Each of the program’s concentrated, two-week modules include in-depth, real-world case studies and practical learning exercises to help give students a competitive edge in this growing profession. Throughout the program, students also have access to the WestlawNext database to gain direct experience using one of the legal world’s most critical research tools. The program, taught by expert attorneys and leading faculty members at BU, one of the country’s premier institutions of higher learning, offers students a perfect combination of accessibility, affordability, and skills-based curriculum. As students can complete the program in just 14 weeks, the online Certificate in Paralegal Studies presents an excellent opportunity for students to prepare for success as a paralegal and move into a rapidly expanding profession.
Kaplan University (online): Kaplan University is one of the largest accredited online universities and educational centers in the world with thousands of students and graduates. Kaplan currently offers the following degrees and certificates in paralegal studies: Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services; Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies; Master of Science in Legal Studies; Legal Secretary Certificate; and Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate. The hallmark of each of the programs is the focus on practical application of legal knowledge as it applies to the paralegal profession. Students also receive job placement assistance and career counseling as part of their program.
Keiser University (online): Keiser University offers an Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies that can be completed at one of the numerous Keiser University campuses in Florida or completely online. Students learn the job skills and knowledge needed to be successful in private law, corporate law, governmental agencies, law enforcement, criminal law, and family law. The curriculum is career-focused with an emphasis on the practical application of legal skills in the paralegal role. Keiser has been operating the program for the last 35 years and has consistently updated the program to keep up with the changing legal environment. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.
Top Ranked Paralegal Blogs
We ranked the top paralegal blogs on the web based on popularity metrics like the number of sites that link to it and Twitter followers.
|Rank||Blog||Page Authority||Linking Sites||Page Rank||Twitter Followers||Twitter Name||Points|
|1||The Estrin Report||55||140||5||1385||estrin||633|
|2||The Paralegal Mentor||48||66||4||2295||VickiVoisin||545|
|3||Digital Paralegal Services Blog||36||45||2||1382||CathyRibble||356|
|4||The Empowered Paralegal||44||84||4||–||–||340|
|5||Parasec: The Source||48||6||3||1335||Parasec||319|
|6||The Paralegal Society||50||43||3||97||TPSparalegals||275|
|10||The California Litigator||26||27||2||321||callitigator||184|
|11||Richmond Paralegal Association||27||3||4||92||RPA_RichmondVA||136|
|12||Pamela the Paralegal||22||10||1||45||pamelaparalegal||114|
The rankings are determined based on multiple third-party website popularity metrics including Seomoz Page Authority, Google PageRank, the number of sites linking to the website, and the number of Twitter followers. Each website metric is given a weight in our ranking formula to determine a total point value for each site.
If you would like to suggest a paralegal blog to be added to our list, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job Opportunities for Graduates
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2016 the median annual pay for paralegals is $48,350.2 Aspiring paralegals should note that salaries can vary depending upon location, education, and experience. The highest-earning 10% of paralegals earn an average of $77,830 while the lowest-earning 10% earn less than $30,280.2 Entry-level paralegals can expect to earn lower than the median in most instances.
The paralegal profession is expected to grow by 8% through 2024.2 This rate of growth is slightly faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations in the US. As of 2014 there were approximately 272,580 paralegals employed in the United States.3 With an occupational growth rate of 8%, this number is expected to reach 294,386 by 2024.3
Paralegal job applicants with a solid foundation in legal coursework as well as an area of expertise should fare competitively. There are several channels you can use to look for paralegal jobs, including our national jobs board, state and local job boards, LinkedIn, and your local paralegal association. Students can find support and tips concerning paralegal education and the profession through professional organizations such as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants and Paralegals (NALA).
Useful Resources for Students:
- Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook – Paralegals and Legal Assistants
- Legal Talk Network: The Paralegal Voice
- NALA, The Association of Legal Assistants*Paralegals
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- The Paralegal Mentor
- Advice For Getting Hired as a Paralegal
- Paralegal411 Annual Paralegal Career Scholarship
1. National Center for Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages May 2014, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm