Education Requirements

There are no formal education requirements to become a paralegal. The paralegal field has become very competitive however, and employers look for those with the most appropriate education and training for the position. Some employers prefer those with a formal degree or certification, while others require education only. The type of education or training preferred often depends on the industry.

The government generally requires paralegals to have a formal bachelor degree and certification to gain employment. Government paralegals are among the highest paid in the field and thus require the most education. These paralegals typically possess some prior experience as well. Those who are less qualified are usually found in a smaller local government office, not in the federal government.

Large law firms also typically require their paralegals to have an education and some experience. They may accept a paralegal with an associate’s degree if the paralegal is certified. This is generally because of the knowledge and specialization necessary. Large law firms may also employ paralegals without additional certification if they have received a bachelor’s degree and certificate from an accredited school by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Paralegals who work for a corporation are also among the highly educated. Certified paralegals are highly coveted, but they should have training and education for in-house matters, not general family practice matters. These corporate paralegals do not generally have as much support from other paralegals and thus need to have extensive specialized knowledge in their field. Experience is not necessarily required but may be preferred depending on the company.

Similarly, paralegals working in another field, such as an insurance company or real estate office, may not be required to have more than an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The degree does not necessarily have to be from an ABA-accredited school. These paralegals are often not certified and do not hold any special titles. Some prior experience may be preferred for more intricate positions, but it is not required for all. If the paralegal does not have any education, a long history of prior experience may be enough.

Paralegals working for small law firms generally do not need to have any formal degree. Many small law firms prefer paralegals with more experience. These paralegals usually have to perform administrative tasks and have a more general knowledge, meaning the degree is not always the most preferable.

For mid-size law firms, at least an associate’s degree from an ABA-accredited school is beneficial. Usually, prior experience is preferred for this faster-paced environment. Certified paralegals are also highly sought after.


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