The paralegal profession possesses its own professional associations just like many other fields.
Professional associations and organizations are usually non-profits entities designed to advance the profession and advocate on behalf of the interests of the professionals that comprise that industry.
Some industries may have a dominant organization while others may be more fractured and consist of several different entities competing against each other or focusing their attention on specific areas related to the field. Organizations may devote their energy to public policy, lobbying and drafting legislation at the state and federal level designed to support the industry and its members. Research is another integral function and data from studies is used to improve product development, marketing and to educate the public. Organizations will also develop educational courses, continuing education modules, ethics training and incorporate a certification program allowing members who have successfully completed these courses to communicate this to prospective employers and customers.
One of the most well known and best examples of a professional organization is the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Many people mistakenly use the word realtor and real estate agent interchangeably. However, not all real estate agents have earned the Realtor designation. The NAR is thoroughly engaged in authoring state and federal legislation and will voice its opinion on bills being considered by legislative bodies. A prime example would be recent laws over the last few years pertaining to loan modifications, short sales and the homebuyer credit program. The NAR will also release reports detailing the benefits of homeownership and the positive impacts it has on families and communities.
Paralegals seeking to network with colleagues, receive updates and news alerts about their profession, and wishing to bolster their credentials to increase their marketability to future employers may join an association. In addition to several national options, each state has their own state and local paralegal associations.
The primary national paralegal associations are:
National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE
American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI)
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.