ABA Approved Paralegal Programs

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ABA Approved Paralegal Programs

ABA Approved Paralegal Programs have received a seal of approval by the American Bar Association once its curriculum has been exhaustively reviewed and only after the completion of an intensive on-site evaluation of the campus and its facilities.  Additionally, each institution is required to submit rigorous self-evaluation reports which are then subjected to a thorough review.  The school offering a paralegal program must be a part of an accredited educational institution. The school must offer at least 60 semester or 90 quarter units with general education. At least 18 semester units or 27 quarter units must satisfy legal specialty courses.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comThe American Bar Association seeks to ensure high quality paralegal instruction and training that is uniform and consistent across the nation.

Paralegal programs passing muster with the ABA are certified for a period of seven years after they have paid all the fees and costs associated with the review by the organization.

There are approximately 1,000 paralegal studies programs throughout the country. However, there are approximately 270 ABA approved paralegal programs.

A list of all ABA approved programs by state can be viewed at the American Bar Association’s website.

Are non-ABA Approved Paralegal Programs good schools?

Each school has to be evaluated on its merits.  It would be irresponsible to conclude that all ABA approved programs are superior to all non-ABA approved programs.  However, it would be fair to objectively conclude that by attending an ABA certified program that a student will receive a high-quality education that will prepare them for a successful paralegal career.  And it would also be fair to state that prospective students must conduct their due diligence when evaluating a paralegal program because there will always be some programs that are more interested in taking your money than providing you with the education and training you need.

Some students seeking to become a paralegal will automatically dismiss attending any school that is not an ABA approved paralegal program.  If you are one of these students, you should first take into account a couple of key points.

Most states do not require attendance of an ABA approved paralegal program.  Moreover, on average these programs will cost more to attend.  Additionally, the American Bar Association will not approve any online paralegal studies program.  Therefore, an institution utilizing the online model of instruction to keep their expenses and overhead low and extend those savings to their students via lower tuition costs will not be approved even if their curriculum is excellent.

Also, there are significant costs associated with submission of an application for ABA approval.  Applying schools must submit a $2,000 application fee.  If their application is rejected because the school needs to make some changes or corrections, they are charged an additional $1,700 for each attempt.  On top of the application fees, each school must pay an annual fee $900.

These fees are the direct out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the applying school and do not include the significant costs associated with the internal compliance and documentation needed to satisfy the requirements in the self-evaluation.

Thus, smaller schools and online schools are at a severe disadvantage when seeking ABA approval.  When browsing the list of ABA approved programs you will see that most of the awarded programs are part of traditional colleges that have the size and financial wherewithal to meet and maintain the stringent requirements.

If you are interested in learning more about how to become a paralegal, please visit our paralegal hub page.

If you are interested in learning more about other fantastic and rewarding careers that do not require a traditional four-year college degree, please visit the Ditch College career portal.

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