Questions about best school for certificate

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Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio

61 months ago

Hi! I've been reading many of the subjects on this forum to find out more about the paralegal profession. While a lot more is negative that I thought would be, I am not dissuaded from getting my certificate. I have a BSBA and am enrolled at a program at a private school that will take me 2 years to get my certificate. It is ABA approved which is what prompted me to go there. However, I just found that there are 2 local community colleges that offer ABA approved certificates.

My questions is, will the private school offer me a better education and better opportunities? Obviously there is a huge difference in cost, but I am not sure how to find out if one program is better than the other and if there will be any difference in placement.

I appreciate any and all comments!

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Generally, no. The private schools won't necessarily offer you a better education than a community college. If the community college is a lot cheaper (and faster) then you might want to consider that program.

Also, if you already have a bachelor's degree, your paralegal certificate should not take more than a few months -- 225 clock hours of class time to be exact. Many community colleges are beginning to offer the ABA-approved 24-credit post-bachelor paralegal certificate. They only take 2 semesters to complete.

On a final note: if you are willing to spend 2 years after earning your bachelor's degree to attain a paralegal certificate, I would urge you to consider going after the real deal--a Juris Doctorate (aka: a law degree). It takes 3 years (4 if you study part-time) and it will give you a lot more versatility. Additionally, if you go to a state school, you may find that 3 years tuition for a law degree can compete with the cost of some of these paralegal certificates being offered by for-profit private universities.

Good luck in whichever direction you go.

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Nanlisa in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

61 months ago

I can't tell you how it's in the rest of the country, but I do know this. A lot of the big law firms here in downtown Philadelphia require their paralegals to have Bachelor's degree.

You should contact the law firms in your area just to see what training and experience they require.

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Nanlisa in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

61 months ago

Legalstudy: Check out these schools very carefully. Find out if you can transfer your credits towards a four-year-degree. Call prospective law firms to see if they hire graduates of the school. Find out if the instructors are experienced attorneys.

Find out as much as you can.

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Nanlisa in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

61 months ago

Also, see if the two-year community college will accept this school's credits.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That is big time misinformation. JDs are overkill for paralegals. Paralegals need only a Bachelor's degree and paralegal certificate. Juris Doctorate degrees are for people who want to be lawyers.

Well it's not misinformation; it's simply another option. My intent in mentioning the law degree was to, more-or-less, point out the difference an additional year of schooling could make.

It was also meant to reinforce the fact that if you already have a bachelor's degree, a 2-year paralegal certificate is excessive. Technically, you could do it in 3 months. (Unfortunately, those 3 month post-bachelor ABA-approved paralegal certificate programs are fairly expensive).

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Ms. Gucci in Hollywood, Florida

61 months ago

DLP,
Actually in FL there are a lot of paralegal turned lawyers here. I know the educational requirements differ from state to state. For instance I have my associates from Miami Dade College which is ABA approved and I continued my bachelors in legal studies and its not ABA approved. I see that most of the firms that solely deal with contracts, bankruptcy, intellectual property, and real estate prefer ABA approval while most others don't. At the sametime it depends on the firm itself, some only want associates degree holders some want bachelor degree holders. I NEVER seen a firm ask a candidate to have a masters in legal studies. I do understand that George Washington University has it but, what exactly can it do for a paralegal who already has a bachelors?

I asked the paralegals at the firm where I'm interning and they said masters in legal studies an/or paralegal are a waste of time.

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Ms. Gucci in Hollywood, Florida

61 months ago

Capella University also has a masters of legal studies but, its for labor law, employment law, and able to utilize legal compliance within human resources. If that makes sense.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Further, you don't realize that law school is tremendously expensive - approaching or exceeding six figures. The most expensive paralegal program I've seen costs ~$25K for an esoteric non-ABA approved Master's in Paralegal Studies degree that won't do anything more for a paralegal wannabe than a Bachelor's and certificate would.

FAMU Law School 4-year part-time JD program = $26,508.00

And JDs are often hired to fill paralegal positions. It's how a lot of recent graduates get their foot in the door at a firm.

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Legalstudy in Solon, Ohio

61 months ago

Thanks so much for your comments. I do not wish to be a lawyer, so Displaced Legal Professional is correct on that score. I am nearing 40 and I am not looking to advance beyond being a paralegal. I want a job I enjoy and am interested in; I know, it's a crapshoot from what I read. If I hate it, I'll fall back on my business degree.

The school I am considering requires 36 credit hours translating to about 120 hours at school, but double/triple that of home/study time. All the classes are paralegal classes (it is ABA approved and I have seen many jobs list this as a requirement). I am going to check the bios at local law firms, excellent suggestion. I had no idea getting a certificate in a few months was even possible. I'll do more research on the community college front.

Thanks so much for your comments and thoughts, they were helpful.

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Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio

61 months ago

I just checked with the ABA approved community college, and their program would run me about $3000 (I wouldn't need to take out any loans), they require an internship where they place you. It requires 6 less credit hours so I could get my cert. faster. Some of the bios I checked for paralegals at big firms were from this college. I did not see the expensive school on anyone's bio (this is just a few bios though, paralegals don't appear to be commonly listed).

The private not-for-profit ABA approved school is about $17000, does not require internship. I will have to pay back $12000 or so in loans.

Both help with placement but of course the buck stops with me. I am struggling to find an advantage to going to the more expensive school, or trying to find out why it's better. I'll be 41 when I'm done, and aware there may be age discrimination (nervous about it but what can I do). Comments anyone?

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Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio

61 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I'm surprised the more expensive ABA school does not require an internship. I've always understood internship is an ABA course requirement. I would only say not to expect your school to help much in placing you for an internship. My school helped very little with placing me. I arranged my own paralegal internship, which was nearly as tough as finding my first job. BTW, you should start arranging for your internship EARLY ON. It's a good sign that you found big firm paralegals who attended the school. When one paralegal school predominates on local paralegal bios, it's reasonable to believe that school played a part in those paralegals' success, and that firms at least know the school and maybe like it. It's therefore reasonable to believe that school can play a part in your success as well.

Obviously, due diligence is important for any career, and, IMO, especially critical for paralegal. Just keep at it.

The more expensive school does require internship. My mistake. I have to send in my loans paperwork and get going and I'm doing some last minute analyzing.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio said: I just checked with the ABA approved community college, and their program would run me about $3000 (I wouldn't need to take out any loans), they require an internship where they place you. It requires 6 less credit hours so I could get my cert. faster. Some of the bios I checked for paralegals at big firms were from this college. I did not see the expensive school on anyone's bio (this is just a few bios though, paralegals don't appear to be commonly listed).

The private not-for-profit ABA approved school is about $17000, does not require internship. I will have to pay back $12000 or so in loans.

Both help with placement but of course the buck stops with me. I am struggling to find an advantage to going to the more expensive school, or trying to find out why it's better. I'll be 41 when I'm done, and aware there may be age discrimination (nervous about it but what can I do). Comments anyone?

$3K vs. $17K. Ouch. I'd be more likely to recommend the $3K pathway.

Just for another option: www.paralegal.edu/paralegal-certificate/

This program offers an ABA-approved online paralegal certificate which you can complete in 10 months (30 credits). Cost: $10,500. The program is eligible for Federal Student Aid.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Another misleading statement. No ABA paralegal certificate can be earned entirely online. Some in-person class attendance is required. You really should learn more about what you're talking about before dispensing misleading suggestions, H-T- in Miami, Florida.

Unfortunately, you are providing the misinformation. But I believe that you are not doing it intentionally. I believe you are just not as knowledgeable about this area as you believe you are. Read the same page you sent me, just a little further down, and you will see the following regarding the 10 hours of traditional classroom requirement: "This requirement may be satisfied through synchronous interactive video systems, as they are considered
equivalent to traditional classroom instruction."

The 10-month program I mentioned uses interactive, live classrooms that via an online environment. Oh, and it IS ABA-approved. But don't take my word for it. Go ahead and call them for confirmation (like I did before I even mentioned the program).

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: One more comment for you, H-T- in Miami, Florida. I had heard of that school and looked at its website. The website states the school is ABA-approved. I never disputed that issue.

I don't doubt that you had. Hey, do you remember earlier today when you said:

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:
No ABA paralegal certificate can be earned entirely online. Some in-person class attendance is required.

Well, I'm glad I was able to teach you something today; and that is how an ABA-approved paralegal certificate program can be conducted entirely through the internet without ever stepping foot in a classroom. From now on, as you moderate this forum, you'll now be able to better inform the potential students looking for the most up-to-date information on ABA-approved program delivery options. You're welcome!

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Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio

61 months ago

I am so thankful to you all for your comments and suggestions. I am contacting local people in the legal profession to get more information; the first response wasn't negative but made me think less expensive is better. I am seriously concerned about taking loans out for a paralegal degree in this economy, particularly given my age and lack of experience. It might be more prudent to pursue the community college degree; the other will certainly make things harder for myself financially and there doesn't seem to be a payoff.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Read the excerpt again.

There's no need to cover. I am aware that you did not know that the ABA accepted a 100% online virtual class in lieu of a traditional class. If you did, you would have never brought that comment in the first place. But like I said: no need to cover. You're only human.

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I don't recall thanking you, H-T- in Miami

Don't mention it. I'm always glad to help out.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

I am human; I do learn from other people. Thank you for the opportunity to have the last word. Here it goes:

"Be reasonable! Be Polite!"

When I've treated you with respect, you responded condescendingly. When I gave you a taste of your own medicine, you were very quick to cry 'wolf.'

Hypocrisy is neither respected by me nor others.

Now, enough bickering. Let's move on with our focus on helping potential and working paralegals in addressing their concerns over the education and profession of paralegals.

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Correct Information in Chicago, Illinois

61 months ago

The ABA Guidelines for Approval of Paralegal Education require a certain number of courses/credits to be taken in the traditional format. The Guidelines do not allow for an all online program. The definition of "synchronous interactive video" is not an online presentation. It is a live broadcast between two or more classrooms.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

Correct Information in Chicago, Illinois said: The ABA Guidelines for Approval of Paralegal Education require a certain number of courses/credits to be taken in the traditional format. The Guidelines do not allow for an all online program.

Actually, the guidelines do allow for an all online program. There are several other concerns which must be met, but none of which require the student actually leaving the comfort of his or her own home.

Correct Information in Chicago, Illinois said: The definition of "synchronous interactive video" is not an online presentation. It is a live broadcast between two or more classrooms.

You are correct that a "synchronous interactive video" is live broadcast. It is also important to know that this live broadcast can take place over the internet, thus making the class "an online course." The student is not actually required to show up at a physical classroom, but he or she does need to be be at their computer at assigned times, because the course is being conducted by the professor 'live.'

Again, I've already called the school offering this program regarding this matter.

Case-in-point: This is a 100% internet-based (aka: online) paralegal certificate program and it is ABA-approved. You're welcome to call the school and ABA and verify this information as I did.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

I don't believe that there is need to argue this any further. Useful information is welcomed, but there's no point in continuing to debate semantics.

Now, to change the topic a little, I do have a question: why do so many people depend on job ads for find paralegal jobs? I always felt that the best paralegal jobs are never advertised. Every person I've hired was via word-of-mouth or by contacting a local school and asking professors if they had any past students looking for work.

The one time I placed a job ad, I ended up being bombarded with phone calls, mail and pop-ins. It was a nightmare. I also don't like using recruitment services.

I believe networking is one of the best ways to secure a job. But I'm interested to hear why people like using job ads? How has your success been in searching for a job via the wanted pages?

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Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio

61 months ago

This is something I would be interested in hearing more about. I think the biggest issue I have is whether there will be any advantage in networking/job placement if I go to the private school versus the community college. I am not sure given the job market right now if it makes much difference.

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H-T- in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

That largely depends on many factors, not limited to the schools alumni network and the schools reputation. Which private school are you looking at attending?

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Legalstudy in Lyndhurst, Ohio

61 months ago

I too have never gotten jobs by networking, although it has been very successful for my sister. I don't think I'm going to count on a school to do it for me. There are only 3 ABA approved schools in the Cleveland area, two are community colleges, the private one is the 3rd. I definitely am planning on going the community school route. Thanks again for your comments, they were very helpful.

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