Paralegals are legal professionals who assist lawyers.
You’ll perform tasks including organizing case files, interviewing clients, gathering facts, and drafting legal documents.
You may work in the law office, in the courtroom, or in both types of environments.
If you are interested in a law career, but don’t want to get a law degree, being a paralegal can be a great choice.
Best Online Paralegal Training Programs
Getting a paralegal certification online can allow you to begin your new career quickly.
However, it’s important to choose the best online paralegal training program for you.
1. Boston University
Boston University’s Online Paralegal Certificate allows you to get your certificate in only 14 weeks.
You’ll learn from practicing attorneys.
You’ll learn how to use technology programs designed for paralegals, and have access to BU instructors.
You will study legal research, legal writing and reasoning, legal technologies, real estate law, business law, litigation, and probate and family law.
The course costs $3,995 and includes all the materials you’ll need to get your certificate.
It’s beneficial for those who want to begin a career as a paralegal, and those within the field that want to improve their skills.
2. University of Georgia
The University of Georgia offers a paralegal program online or on campus.
The course takes 90 hours and counts as 9 continuing education credits.
The University offers a few ways to take the online course.
The course costs $1,895.
You’ll also need to purchase books and study materials.
The Live-Online option allows you to learn online via Zoom.
You’ll have regular assignments to complete within a deadline, as you would if you were attending the class in person.
The Online Option allows you to access the learning materials when it’s convenient for you.
However, you will have due dates to complete assignments.
The last option is the self-study option.
This allows you to complete all assignments at your own pace.
You’ll have 6 months to complete the program.
The course is considered accelerated, so you’ll need to be prepared to spend a significant amount of time studying each week.
Most students spend 8–12 hours each week reading and completing assignments.
During the course, you will learn legal terminology, ethics, and the basics of the litigation process.
You’ll also learn about the process of civil procedure and the rules of evidence.
Basic interviewing and investigation techniques, and research skills and techniques to use in briefs and motions.
3. National Paralegal College
The National Paralegal College offers a few options to become a paralegal.
You can earn a certificate or an associate’s degree.
The certificate course requires you to complete 24 credits.
You’ll take 4 core classes, which provide 12 credit hours.
These courses include Torts and Personal Injury, Contracts, Legal Research, Writing, and Civil Litigation, and Professional Responsibility and Legal Ethics.
You’ll also choose 4 elective leg courses, which also make up 12 credit hours.
These courses include Criminal Law, Business Law, Domestic Relations, Employment Law, White Collar Crime, and more.
How long it takes to earn your certificate as a paralegal depends on how many courses you take at one time.
If you take 3 courses at once, you can complete the program in 7 months.
If you take two courses at a time, the program takes 9 months.
If you only take 1 course at a time, you’ll complete the program in 17 months.
If you choose to earn an associate’s degree as a paralegal, you’ll take the 4 core classes, for 12 credit hours.
You’ll also take at least 8 legal elective courses, for a total of at least 24 credit hours.
These courses include Criminal Law, Business Law, Domestic Relations, Employment Law, White Collar Crime, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Employment Law, and Immigration Law.
You’ll need to earn 24 more credits. 15 of these must be general education credits, which include one class in English and one in Math.
Other general education credits can be any general education course you choose.
The remaining 9 courses are up to you as well.
4. Bryant Stratton College
Bryant Stratton College offers an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. Once you graduate, you’ll be prepared to take the CLA/CP exam.
The course is shorter than most associate’s programs and can be completed in only 16 months online.
The course is a total of 60 credits.
Paralegal courses will make up 39 credits.
These courses include Contract Law, Civil Litigation, Law Office Management and Technology, Criminal Law and Procedures, and much more.
Other credits are obtained from general education and elective courses.
Once you’ve completed the program, you can pursue a career as a legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, or legal support worker.
You’ll learn legal terminology, and how to utilize it in legal documents.
You’ll understand procedural theories, responsibilities, and limitations of being a paralegal.
You will also learn how to draft legal writings and documents, including correspondence, pleadings, and memoranda.
You will be able to read and interpret legal documents, case law, and statutory law.
You’ll also learn the technology skills you’ll need for general office and law office applications.
5. Penn Foster
Penn Foster offers an associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies.
The program is completely online, and self-paced.
This means you can complete the coursework at the pace that works best for you.
You’ll complete 4 semesters, for a total of 69 credits.
Most students take 11 months to complete one semester.
However, you can complete semesters in as little as 5 months with a fast track.
You can expect to pay between $6,500 to $7,000 for this program.
However, payment plans are available to help you manage the costs.
Once you’ve completed the program, you’ll be fully prepared to begin a career as a paralegal.
Courses include legal terminology, civil litigation, family law, and tort law.
6. LSU Online
LSU Online offers the outstanding education of Louisiana State University in an online format that is accessible to anyone in the U.S.
This program is designed for those who already have a degree.
In fact, if you don’t have a degree yet, you’ll need at least 45 credit hours to qualify for this program.
Most classes meet during the evenings live online and last for a few hours.
A few elective courses are self-paced.
You’ll take a total of 12 courses.
10 of these courses are required, and two are legal elective courses.
How long the course takes will depend on how many classes you take at once.
You can complete the course in 1 year.
If you choose a part-time schedule, it can take 2.5 years to complete the course.
Because this program is designed for students who already have a college education, all courses focus on the legal field.
You won’t take general education classes.
Required courses include civil litigation, law office technology, legal research, and legal case analysis.
The cost for the program is about $5,000, plus books and materials.
7. Madison Area Technical College
Madison Area Technical College offers two online paralegal courses.
You can choose the online self-paced option, or the live online option, which has classes in the evenings and on weekends.
You’ll need to complete a total of 60 credits to get your associate’s degree as a paralegal.
This typically takes 2 years for full-time students.
The cost of the program is $9,700.
Courses in the program include Administrative Law, Contract Law, Legal Terminology, Real Estate Law, and Family Law.
You’ll also complete an internship as a paralegal as part of the program.
What Courses Are in an Online Paralegal Program?
During the legal research course, you’ll learn how to conduct legal research.
This typically includes research via online resources as well as law books, also known as the old-fashioned method.
You’ll learn about the Constitution, case law, statutory law, regulatory law, and executive orders.
Legal Writing and Reasoning
Legal writing and reasoning courses will teach you how to write legal documents and how to “think like an attorney”.
You’ll learn how to write case briefs and how to analyze writing.
You will also learn about IRAC, or Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.
During this course, you’ll learn about the technologies you’ll use as a paralegal.
You’ll learn about general office programs, including Microsoft Word, and Excel, and how to perform internet research.
The course will also include some specialized programs used in the legal field.
You may learn to use CaseMap for case management, and e-Discovery which helps to find and organize material for lawsuits.
You will also learn to use PACER, which allows you to file legal pleadings in federal courts.
You may also learn to use Clio, which is a specialized software tool.
Criminal Law and Procedures
This course will teach you about criminal law, and the procedures associated with it.
Topics will include ethics, search and seizure, Miranda rights, confessions, arraignment, and types of crimes.
You will also learn about creating appellate briefs and how to meet with clients.
During the legal terminology course, you’ll learn about the terminology used in the legal field.
You’ll learn about the terminology used in civil actions, legal traditions, and comparative legal systems.
You’ll also learn about contract law, litigation process, and court processes.
Can You Earn a Paralegal Certification Completely Online?
Yes, you can earn your certificate completely online.
Some programs offer live online courses, which means you’ll need to attend classes online at certain times.
Other programs allow you to complete your coursework at your own pace and on your own schedule.
Some programs require an apprenticeship or internship as part of their requirements.
Internships are usually completed in person in your local area.
Paralegal Certification Process
Once you’ve completed a paralegal training program, you may choose to get certified as a paralegal.
To do this, you’ll need to take a test provided by the NALA Paralegal Association.
This certification is known as a certified paralegal, or CP.
You can qualify for the exam by getting an associate’s degree as a paralegal.
You may also qualify if you have 7 years of paralegal experience, or a degree in another field and one year of experience as a paralegal.
The knowledge test can be taken at home.
However, the skills test will need to be completed at a testing center.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Paralegal Certification Online?
Most paralegal programs take 1 to 2 years.
Some certificate programs can be completed in less than one year.
There are some associate’s degree programs that can be completed in 16 months, but most take 2 years.
Some can take up to 2.5 years, particularly if you are taking classes part-time.
How Much Does an Online Paralegal Certification Cost?
The cost of getting an education as a paralegal varies based on the type of program and its length.
Generally, an associate’s degree program will cost more than a certificate program.
Costs can be as low as $2,000 and as expensive as $10,000 for an associate’s degree.
The majority of programs cost between $4,000 and $7,500.
Paralegal Certification (CP) Fees
The standard cost for the knowledge and skills tests is $235 for members and $375 for non-members.
Current students in their last semester of paralegal studies can take the exams for $150 for members, and $175 for non-members.
If you take the tests at a testing center, you’ll pay $67 for the knowledge exam, and $60 for the skills exam.
If you take the knowledge test remotely, you’ll pay $50 for remote proctoring or test administration.
Becoming a paralegal is a great career choice, particularly if you are interested in the legal field.
It gives you the opportunity to start your career after one to two years of studying.
Once you become a paralegal, you can choose to continue your education to earn your law degree.
Being a paralegal allows you to work in a law firm.
You can also qualify for some government positions.