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July 6, 2021

Learn Why Accredited Paralegal Programs Are Best

closeup of accreditation stamp

In this Article

The Value of Accreditation

Paralegal accreditation is one assurance of a program’s quality and is offered by the American Bar Association (ABA), state and local bar associations, regional accrediting bodies, or accrediting bodies focused on private or online schools.

The ABA process of accreditation is voluntary and can be quite expensive, so a lack of accreditation in itself may not be an indication of poor quality. Only 260 of the approximately 1,000 paralegal training programs in the United States are ABA accredited, and accredited schools are not available in all locations. Many schools that choose not to seek ABA accreditation still follow its guidelines very closely.

Advantages of Accredited Programs

  • Accreditation creates a gateway for students to participate in federally funded and state entitlement programs.
  • Graduates from accredited paralegal and legal studies programs also qualify to attend other accredited schools to pursue advanced studies, such as master’s and doctorate programs.
  • A degree from an accredited paralegal school may also make you more competitive in some job markets. Some employers prefer to hire people who have graduated from an accredited school because they are trained under nationally established standards.
  • Regional Paralegal Accreditation: Regional accrediting bodies grant accreditation to paralegal programs in their jurisdiction. These accrediting bodies must go through a recognition process with the federal government before gaining the right to accredit programs.
  • State Bar Accreditation: In some locations, paralegal school accreditation or approval is provided by state or local bar associations.
  • ABA Approval: The ABA has approved approximately 260 paralegal/legal assistant training programs that meet its guidelines. The ABA does not accredit distance learning or online paralegal programs. Seeking ABA approval is voluntary on the part of the institution, and there are many quality programs that have chosen not to seek approval. However, the ABA guidelines are useful in evaluating any program you might want to consider.

Other Paralegal Accreditations

Paralegal accreditation for programs offered by private colleges is granted by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Online paralegal programs are accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council.