Because states don't require paralegal licensure, there are no educational standards that paralegal programs are obligated to uphold.
While many programs seek out approval by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Association for Paralegal Education, it's up to you -- the prospective paralegal student -- to carefully examine a school's program to ensure it offers a thorough paralegal education. Note, however, that many employers look for students with degrees from programs approved by the ABA, so their list of approved and/or compliant schools is a great place to start a search.
Paralegal education ranges from certificates to master's degrees, and some institutions offer all levels, while others may only offer a certificate.
Depending on the level of education you're seeking, this factor can help narrow down a list of prospective schools. Professional paralegals and other members of the legal community are great resources to tap for insight into the most reputable schools in the area.
Good paralegal programs have first-rate facilities that include:
- a legal research library;
- computer labs;
- accommodations for students with disabilities;
- student activities -- especially ones related to legal careers;
- a solid curriculum that includes legal theory balanced with practical job skills (along with general education courses);
- internship, practicum, and/or clinical opportunities; and
- experienced faculty and program directors.