Online Paralegal Courses
The paralegal profession first appeared in mid-1960s when demand for more efficient and cost-effective delivery of legal services was growing. Since then, the profession has grown tremendously. According to a recent report, there are now more than 120,000 paralegals in the United States alone.
But while demand for more paralegals continues to increase, there is currently no state that regulates the licensing of paralegals. As such, there is also no standardization of educational programs or criteria for employment. This is why those who are considering a paralegal education must carefully examine different programs before making a final decision.
Online paralegal courses are one of the convenient avenues of education that busy individuals can take advantage of. Aside from being typically short courses, online paralegal courses provide more flexibility with their distance learning approach.
Again, a thorough examination of online paralegal courses is advised before prospective paralegal students make their final decisions. And one of the most important considerations in choosing online paralegal courses is to choose what type of program is most suitable for the student.
There are four common types:
* Associate Programs – Most two-year community colleges, some four-year universities and colleges, and some business schools offer associate online paralegal courses with 60 to 70 semester units. The courses are often divided into two: paralegal studies and general education.
* Baccalaureate Programs – In addition to associate programs, four-year colleges and universities also offer online baccalaureate paralegal courses. These programs often include majors, minors, or specialty courses in paralegal studies. Upon completion of the 120 to 130 semester units, the student is awarded a baccalaureate degree.
* Certificate Programs – In contrast to associate and baccalaureate programs which are stand-alone programs, certificate programs are often designed for students who have already taken paralegal studies. In short, certificate online paralegal courses are a form of advanced paralegal education, offering 10 to 60 semester units.
* Master’s Programs – A few colleges and universities that offer undergraduate paralegal studies also offer advanced degree in the same field. Upon completion of this type of online paralegal courses, the student is awarded a Master’s degree in paralegal education.
How to Evaluate Online Paralegal Courses
The reputation of a school or education institution offering the online paralegal courses is as important as the programs they offer. That is why, the first consideration in evaluating paralegal programs is the regard that the general public and legal community has for that institution offering such programs. To find out, check with people you know in the community, in the legal field, and in higher education.
In addition, note the following services that should be included in your online paralegal courses: orientation, tutoring, academic counseling, financial aid, career information and counseling, and placement assistance.