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Everything You Need to Know About Paralegal Certification Learn how to become a certified paralegal and why certification is preferred.

woman working on paralegal certification at laptop computer

Which Certification Is Best for You?

Paralegal programs grant certificates or diplomas to graduates who have successfully completed the necessary paralegal training. This is not the same as paralegal certification, which is granted by three professional organizations.

At present, there are no mandatory requirements for paralegal certification or licensing. Only in California are paralegals required to meet certain educational standards.

Nonetheless, certification is recommended because in some highly competitive markets employers prefer or even require it. Some paralegals even seek out certification after getting several years job experience to increase their real-world knowledge.

Paralegal Certificate Courses

A bachelor’s degree is a common prerequisite for paralegal certification programs. Since you won’t need to take general education courses, a certificate program can take as little as nine months to complete.

Paralegal students can expect to take these four mandatory courses:

  • Introduction to Law and the Legal System
  • Civil Procedure
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Contract Law

In addition to these courses, you’ll also choose electives which can help hone your skills in a certain area of law. Here are a few examples of courses you’ll choose from:

Paralegal certificate programs are typically designed for students looking for flexibility. In fact, some paralegal courses are taught online.

Many paralegals suggest enrolling in a program that is approved by the American Bar Association. When researching schools, ask about financial aid, job placement services, advising, and if any previous legal classes can be counted as credit.

Certification Agencies

Once you’ve earned your certificate from a paralegal school, you can apply for professional certification. The three agencies are as follows:

Once on the job, you can decide for yourself whether you want to pursue paralegal certification or not.