6 Advantages of ABA-Approved Paralegal Programs


paralegal career

To work as a paralegal, you need legal skills, knowledge, vocabulary, and a real understanding of how the legal system works. So, whether you obtain an Associate or Bachelor’s degree, you’ll want a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Since 1878, the ABA has worked to improve the law profession and promote professional growth among its members. In 1921 the Association developed standards for legal education and became an accrediting agency for legal education programs.

When you choose an ABA-approved paralegal program, you can be assured of a comprehensive, practical curriculum, taught by qualified professors with real world experience. The ABA Approval committee checks to see that the school is accurately representing their academic goals, programs, and services.

Here are 6 advantages to ABA-approved paralegal programs:

1. ABA-Approved Programs Provide an Up-to-Date and Practical Curriculum

ABA-approved paralegal programs develop their curriculum with input from paralegal organizations, law firms and other potential employers such as:

  • Corporate Legal Departments
  • Banks
  • Financial Institutions
  • Insurance Companies
  • Nonprofits
  • Government agencies

Most ABA-approved schools will have programs of study that include courses in Legal Principles, Legal Research and Writing, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Torts and Contracts, Family Law, Property and Probate, Legal Practice Technology, and Professional Ethics. According to the ABA, the curriculum must stay current and should be frequently evaluated to ensure relevancy.

2. Highly Qualified Professors

Professors in ABA-approved programs must be experts in the field of law, with years of real-world experience. They must also provide practical assignments to develop your knowledge, so you will have the skills you need for your first paralegal job.

3. Paralegal Career Assistance

ABA-approved programs must also provide career assistance to help you find a job as a paralegal. Career assistance can help you prepare your resume, look for job postings, write a cover letter, and understand the interview process.

4. ABA-Approved Programs Are Respected by Employers

ABA approval means the American Bar Association has done the work for employers of making sure their new hire will be qualified to perform their job from day one. Some state bar associations and organizations that offer certification express a preference for graduates of ABA-approved paralegal programs.

5. Closer to Certification

Because there is no single authority that oversees paralegals in the U.S., certification can help you stand out from your peers. Among the ways to attain certification are through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam, or the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam. Passing your certification exam can be easier when you are well-prepared through an ABA-approved program.

6. ABA-Approval Recognized in Most States

ABA-approved programs offer universal standards regardless of the state you live in. If you decide to relocate, you can take your knowledge and skills with you anywhere in the country.

How Universities Earn ABA Approval

Institutions wishing to earn ABA approval for their paralegal programs must have at least a two-year track record of successful graduates and their paralegal programs must follow strict ABA guidelines. An approval process manager and educational consultant review applications and the Standing Committee on Paralegals and its Approval Commission guide schools through the approval process. An on-site evaluation of the program and school is conducted over one to two days.

The institution must be accredited. Additionally, it must pay a fee, comply with ABA guidelines, and exhibit honesty and candor in all its dealings. In creating the curriculum, it must work closely with state or local bar associations, law-related management associations, paralegals, paralegal managers, and organizations. Schools should also work with representatives of law firms, corporations, government agencies, and other potential employers of paralegals as they develop their programs.

Some questions that might be asked of applicants include:

  • Who is on the program’s advisory committee, and what is their background and experience?
  • Who are the faculty members and what is their background and education?
  • What is included in the curriculum, and does it fully comply with ABA guidelines?
  • Are there any legal specialty courses offered? (for example, immigration, probate, criminal law, etc.)

Once approved, a program will need to submit periodic reports as required by the guidelines. Approval is for seven years.

At National American University, we offer an online ABA-approved Paralegal Studies program at the Associate and Bachelor’s degree level that that will give you a solid foundation to become a successful paralegal and enable you to have a competitive edge with employers. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor or click Learn More now.


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