Paralegal certificate programs?

I would like to know if you can get a paralegal certificate and work at a attorneys office and then work on getting a associates degree?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    I always begin my answers with the following caveat: I am currently employed as a paralegal in the state of Texas. My answer is based on my current knowledge of the profession, my education and experience. My answer will not necessarily be the end all, be all of all answers as there will always be exceptions.

    With that said, you most certainly can get a "paralegal certificate" and attempt to work on your associate's degree; however, the question you should ask yourself is, "Will I be hired?" As a general rule in our firm, we do not hire anything less than a proper associate's degree from an ABA approved program or a program that we've looked at their curriculum and have deemed it appropriate for our needs.

    I would not suggest this route as normally, these "paralegal certificate" programs make false promises they cannot fulfill. They promise you get the same education in half the time. The truth is, any intelligent hiring attorney knows it is impossible for you to learn what you need to know in 6-12 months. And honestly, would you want to work for an attorney that has no clue how to use you? It has been my experience that attorneys that hire you on a certificate will use you in a secretarial manner. I am sure there are thousands of exceptions, but take that into consideration. They promise employability and great salaries! The truth is, unless you have something else on your resume that lets the hiring attorney know you are fit for a law office environment, a certificate generally doesn't help. You'll be competing against very educated individuals. A certificate generally won't hold up. They lead you to believe that you are a "certified" paralegal upon completion. The ONLY way to become a certified paralegal (CP) is to take an exam hosted by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). You have to have a high school diploma plus seven years experience, OR at the minimum, an ABA approved associate's degree or an associate's degree with a certain amount of legal hours, OR a paralegal bachelor's degree or a combination of a bachelor's degree and like a semesters worth of legal classes. These programs throw around the term "certified paralegal" but the truth is, at the end of one of those programs, all you are is a person with a piece of paper that says you took some vocational classes.

    I was once told a saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Simply put, if you are truly interested in becoming a paralegal, why aim for the lowest rung on the ladder? I know we all have our life situations. My husband cheated on me, I got divorced, I was a single parent, no income, living back home and only had a high school diploma and ten years experience as a stay-at-home Mom. We ALL have a story. I managed to get my two year degree and snagged a VERY nice job before I even graduated.

    Before you commit to this route, explore all your options locally. See what the hiring trends are and educational requirements. It makes no sense to waste time if your area is demanding college degrees. Also be aware that some states DO have educational requirements such as California. You must attend a paralegal associate's degree program to even call yourself a paralegal in California, so make sure you do your research.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    It depends on if the program specifically is eligible to receive Title IV funding.

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