Introduction to an Online Education in Paralegal

by Doug Schmitt, Contributing Writer
Introduction to an Online Education in Paralegal

With an increasing demand for legal representation, it's no surprise that the paralegal profession is one of the United States fastest growing occupations. The American Bar Association's (ABA) definition of a paralegal is as follows:

"A legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible."

Students have several options for pursuit of an online paralegal education. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths, dependant upon which school a student attends. The most common paralegal programs are listed below:

  • Certificate Programs
  • Associate's Degree Programs
  • Bachelor's Degree Programs
  • Master's Degree Programs

How an Online Program in Paralegal Works

For many, a traditional education may not be feasible for a number of reasons. An online paralegal education offers students the ability to study and attend class with much greater flexibility than a traditional school. Other advantages are as follows:

  • Students may 'attend' class and study from home, at a pace they set for themselves.
  • Many educational institutions will customize online programs for students.
  • Often, studies can be completed at a much faster pace for motivated and hardworking students than that of a traditional education.
  • The online environment facilitates and encourages interaction with other students from all over the country.
  • All class discussions, documents, training materials, and transcripts are recorded for students to access and use at a later date.

Schools Offering Online Paralegal Programs

With over 600 paralegal programs in existence today, many schools are offering these programs to students online. Some examples of these schools are listed below:

Funding for Online Paralegal Education

The cost of a higher education can seem bewildering at times. An online paralegal education can be less expensive than traditional education, but it can be costly nonetheless.

Qualified students can receive financial aid for their online paralegal education. Many institutions offer tuition assistance, and student loans and grants are available for those who qualify.

Another option for students to pursue is scholarships. Law and Paralegal scholarships are available through groups like The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), which offers the following awards:


Today's paralegals are the hinge pin that connects the law office with the courtroom. Interviewing witnesses, preparing arguments, and performing research among other tasks makes them an integral part of the justice system.

The NFPA says that many of today's paralegals specialize in particular areas of law. Examples of such paraegal specialties include intellectual properties and litigation.

Experience is always helpful when trying to get started on any career path, but completing a formal paralegal program is key. Many employers look for paralegals that have both a certificate and a bachelor's degree.


The rapid expansion of the paralegal profession in today's justice system creates a demand for more professionals. This, coupled with numerous educational resources, makes a paralegal education online a great solution for many paralegal students.

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