There is no denying that a paralegal certificate plays a vital role when it comes to expanding legal expertise and knowledge. A paralegal is an important part of any legal team, providing assistance to deal with a wide range of legal tasks.
Not only does he/she support attorneys prepare for legal cases, but also manages and organizes documents, summarizes reports, conducts research and performs many other tasks like these.
A paralegal is not less than the heart of any law firm. Paralegals have now taken responsibilities that are at par with entry-level lawyers and legal secretaries. This is one of the reasons why paralegals or legal assistants have become important to run a legal firm successfully. Besides this, the increased demand for internet savvy people and increase the rate of incarceration in the past few decades have increased the need for paralegals.
Referring to this, a paralegal has become an emerging career opportunity for individuals who want to choose it as a long-term career option. Paralegal studies certificate, in this regard, is the one way an individual can begin or pursue a rewarding career in a legal team.
What are the Different Options for Getting Certification?
Paralegal certification has certain educational requirements as an individual can get into different paralegal certificate programs. Most of these certificates are included in post-baccalaureate programs. To put it simply, these programs are for students who have a bachelor’s degree.
Those with associate degrees can also qualify for certified paralegal exam. The interesting thing is that students do not necessarily have to choose paralegal studies to get into certificate programs. They can opt for it with degrees in political science, business, or fine arts. The main subjects have to be Math, Social Sciences, and English with developed communication skills.
Paralegal professional certification program is offered by professional paralegal organizations. All of these institutes are nationally recognized and offer accredited online paralegal certificate programs. These three major programs include:
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Certified Paralegal (RP)
- Advanced Certified Paralegal (RP)
The Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
- Specialty Certification (SC)
- Professional Paralegal (PP)
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Registered Paralegal (RP)
- Core Registered Paralegal (CRP)
The aforementioned organizations require individuals to complete or continue their legal education. Plus, the organizations administer a standardized assessment in order to evaluate a paralegal’s knowledge and skills. Their objective is to assess the competence of an individual to become a legal assistant. These paralegals programs are approved by (ABA) and universally valued and recognized.
Here it is important to understand that paralegal certification is optional as a number of paralegals are working successfully without earning any professional designation. However, this does not relegate the significance of earning a professional credential.
Appearing in a certified paralegal exam is definitely a sound investment. It distinguishes a certified paralegal from his/her co-workers and colleagues.
What can You do with such a Certificate?
As mentioned earlier, certified paralegal programs offer a specialized track for people seeking career opportunities in various specific legal fields. For instance, if you want to become an ecologist, a certificate in environmental paralegal studies may open the doors to many opportunities.
In the same vein, law impacts everything including medical facilities, insurance and various other medical areas like drugs. Individuals with nursing degrees can apply for a nursing paralegal certificate program.
There is no doubt that paralegal certificate programs can benefit many individuals who aspire to work as paralegals, and also people who want some career change. The program facilitates many fields as well and provides a good opportunity to people considering law school as an option.
How long does it take to get a Paralegal Certificate?
If you have enrolled for an associate degree in professional paralegal certificate program, typically the program lasts two years, covering four semesters. Bachelors program, in paralegal work, is designed as an four-year program, covering eight semesters.
On the other hand, the paralegal certificate program is designed for one year, covering a maximum of two semesters. It also depends on the program you choose. Many current programs require eighteen to forty-five credit hours that are delivered in a part-time schedule, depending on the requirement of the program structure and layout.