A paralegal is often though of as an attorney’s assistant or a legal assistant. This is an individual who has received specialized training in assisting attorneys. Paralegals are those who do not practice law because they do not have the education to do so but they perform tasks that require them to have a certain amount of knowledge regarding the law and courtroom procedures. Most paralegals are employed in law offices while some work on a freelance basis.
The vast majority of those employed as paralegals in the United States are not subject to requirements for continuing education. However even those who are not required to do such for their jobs may wish to keep up with current developments, laws and technologies. Many paralegals look to online continuing education courses for paralegals to help them to upgrade their skills and to keep them current about what is happening in the field of law.
One exception to this is paralegals that work in the state of California. These employees are required to take continuing educating courses that are certified by national professional associations or state bar associations as well as those that belong to paralegal sections of divisions of some state bar associations. The CE requirement for California paralegals can range anywhere from four hours on an annual basis to 12 hours on an annual basis.
Continuing legal education is a must if you wish to seek employment (and maintain your employment) in California. This is pursuant to the Business and Professionals Code Section 6450. Every two years a paralegal in this state must complete four hours of CE courses in legal ethics and also four hours in general law or areas of specialized law. This would equal eight hours of continuing education coursework for every two year period.
As far as national certification is concerned, the Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal assistant (CP/CLA) credential that is made available by the National Association of Legal Assistants necessitates that individuals complete 50 hours of continuing legal education for every five year block of time. Five of these courses must deal with the subjects of legal ethics or professional responsibility.
Even if it is not a requirement of your job to take continuing education courses it is a valuable thing to have that will never be a waste of time. It can help to expand your knowledge of the law, sharpen your legal skills and make you an indispensable member of any legal team. You can learn more about online continuing education courses for paralegals if you visit the AIPS American Institute for Paralegal Studies (www.americanparalegal.edu/) as well as the NALA which is the Association for Paralegals and Legal Assistants that offers continuing education and professional development programs to all interested parties.
Take some time to research national certifications as well as state certifications. You should also become familiar with bar association memberships. Before you register for an online continuing education course for paralegals you need to find out from your employer what the requirements (or non-requirements) are for continuing education. Once you know that then you can do what is necessary to make sure that you remain in-the-know for your job in the legal profession.