Top 10 Free Online Paralegal Courses in 2022

In this article, we will be discussing the Top 10 Free Online Paralegal Courses in 2022 and how to get a self-paced online paralegal certificate. You can complete a paralegal certificate program and become certified to start working as a professional and qualified paralegal. One of the first steps toward working in a law firm is to complete this task. Certificates are credentials awarded by colleges and universities, usually, after an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related or unrelated field has been earned. What exactly is a paralegal certificate, though? Will it help you find work? Will it certify you as a paralegal? Do you want to get a paralegal certificate through the internet?

What is the best paralegal certificate program for you? Professional paralegals are needed to support the work of lawyers as long as there is law and order. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants is 10% through 2029, which is a much faster rate of growth than the national average. However, since the BLS forecast for 2016-2026, that number has dropped 5%, indicating that competition is fierce and that having an educational advantage can make you a more qualified candidate for the job you want. This article will go over what an active paralegal does and how to become one through an online paralegal certificate program.

free online paralegal courses

Become A Paralegal Online

An associate’s degree in paralegal studies can help you break into this prestigious field. Employers today prefer applicants with bachelor’s degrees, but because paralegal studies offer so few bachelor’s degrees, the typical path is to earn a bachelor’s in another field, such as business administration or English, and then add a certificate in paralegal studies on top of that. An online paralegal certificate is a quickest and most convenient way to qualify for legal positions. Paralegals and legal assistants work in various settings, including law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. In 2020, the median annual salary for paralegals was $52,920.

This is significantly higher than the average salary for secretaries and office workers, who perform many of the same tasks as paralegals but lack the specialized training and capabilities. Because paralegals can do much of the support work for lawyers beyond basic secretarial tasks, they help law firms save money, which accounts for the positive outlook on job growth in this field. An online paralegal program, or specialized certificate, can provide credentials that allow a lucky few who have already gotten a job working in a law office to advance in their current position, taking on more complex tasks to assist lawyers in all types of matters.

Taking an online paralegal certificate course while working in a legal department or in another profession is a great way to advance in the legal field and earn more money.

 

Top 10 Paralegal Courses Online With Certifications

Let’s look at some online paralegal studies programs to see how they can help you find a well-paying job as a paralegal.

1. Rasmussen College

Rasmussen University offers a paralegal certificate program that can be completed completely online or in a hybrid format. Flex Choice® self-directed assessment courses allow you to accelerate your program based on your prior knowledge—you can go at your own pace, working faster on the information you already know and spending more time on content you’re unfamiliar with. An associate or bachelor’s degree is required for admission, and the certificate includes 61 credits of work. Healthcare, insurance, law enforcement, public health, social services, and state government are all possible career paths after completing an online paralegal certificate program.

2. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Students in UMass-entirely Lowell’s online certificate program in paralegal studies can work at their own pace, taking one or two courses per semester. There are three semesters: Fall, Spring, and summer each year. This certificate program has four required paralegal courses online and two electives, and students who wish to continue can apply all credits toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or liberal arts. This online paralegal program does not charge an application fee. To receive the certificate, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA over the course of 18 months.

3. Post University

Students who complete Post University’s online professional certificate in paralegal studies are prepared to work in banks, insurance, real estate, private or corporate law offices, or government legal offices. The program is 30 credits long and includes some accelerated paralegal courses online. It is designed to be completed in as little as one year, though most students take longer. The online paralegal studies program emphasizes professional communication, organizational and technological skills and ethical awareness, and teamwork in the legal field. 

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The program includes one-on-one faculty attention, and students are assigned a faculty advisor to ensure their success. Research, document preparation, client interaction, and the fundamentals of testimony, interrogations, and depositions are all covered in the curriculum, which was created with the help of professional attorneys.

4. American Public University System

The online paralegal studies certificate from the American Public University System is completely online and convenient for working adults. This online university collaborates with industry groups to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to market demands. Attorney-paralegal communication, trial preparation, research, legal document preparation, and investigation are among the topics covered. The advantages of online programs at APUS include low tuition, discounts for military members and veterans, and credit for prior experience.

Undergraduate course materials are available for free online to save even more money. It is not necessary to pay to apply for the program. This online paralegal studies program provides a solid foundation in paralegal studies, with writing, legal theory, and terminology coursework.

5. Lake Superior College

Lake Superior College’s online certificate program in paralegal studies can be completed in a year. This program, which is designed to prepare students to become non-lawyer legal professionals, can be applied to an associate degree in paralegal studies if students wish to pursue further education. The program includes instruction in legal software, terminology, documents, and research. The program also covers the state and federal court systems and procedural and substantive law and client interaction. For Minnesota residents, tuition is very affordable, but out-of-state students will pay more in this online paralegal program. Most paralegal courses online are required in this comprehensive basic program, with only one elective course.

6. Liberty University

The online undergraduate certificate in paralegal studies from Liberty University has eight-week classes, eight start dates per year, and takes an average of one year to complete. This program is affordable and flexible, offering free online textbooks for all of its courses and military tuition discounts. This non-profit Christian school offers a paralegal studies online program that can be completed in as little as two semesters. The 18-credit-hour certificate program does not accept transfer credits. A high school self-certification form, a 2.0 GPA in any previous college courses, and proof of English proficiency are all required for admission. Working adults can continue their education while attending to family and work obligations with this fast-track option for entering the legal field.

7. Duke University

The online paralegal certificate program at Duke University is designed for people who want to change careers. An associate or bachelor’s degree, fluency in English, and internet skills/access are all required for admission. This 300-hour (not 300-credit) program includes a set number of hours of essential paralegal skills such as evidence, research, pleadings, motions, writing, courts, and technology. Electives are available in two of the four specializations offered in the online paralegal program: contract, tort, criminal, and business law. Students learn how to create and manipulate legal documents, and instructors can assist with state-specific legal documents anywhere in the United States. The program is self-paced and has a one-year completion deadline. The coursework does not count toward any degree program because it is a non-credit certificate program. Year-round, applications are accepted.

8. Hutchinson Community College

Students will learn how to become paralegals, also known as legal assistants, who will perform legal work under the supervision of an attorney. Students will learn how to conduct legal research, attend meetings, and review legal documents before they are produced. Graduates work in law firms, government agencies, insurance companies, and corporate legal departments, among other places. Specializations in Business Law, Litigation, Family law, Wills, Estates and Trusts, Legal ethics, Criminal law, Personal Injury, and Civil Wrongs are all available through the online paralegal certificate program.

9. Franklin Pierce University

The 100 percent online paralegal studies certificate from Franklin Pierce University is designed to prepare students for the NALA national certification exam. This 30-credit undergraduate paralegal certificate program provides a theoretical and practical foundation in legal issues. Microcomputer applications, legal analysis, tort law, probate law, litigation, real estate law, corporate law, family law, and criminal law are among the paralegal courses online that students must pass to receive the certificate. Because the university has a relationship with the military, military members, spouses, and family members should inquire about financial aid.

10. Northwest Mississippi Community College

Northwest Mississippi Community College’s 30-credit online certificate in paralegal studies is based on the online associate degree in paralegal technology. Practical application is emphasized in areas of law such as real estate, family law, and trust and estate law. In as little as 12 months, you can earn your online paralegal certificate. Students who think they might want to continue after the certificate may find this program appealing because the paralegal courses online are drawn from the legal studies degree program. In-state tuition is very affordable, and out-of-state students will pay slightly less than twice as much as Mississippi residents.

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Online Paralegal Programs

One of the most appealing aspects of online paralegal education is that it is almost always entirely online, with few or no on-campus requirements. Several programs also offer hybrid or blended options. When looking for a paralegal certificate, think about what works best for you: asynchronous or synchronous classes, project timelines, group work, etc. Depending on whether the program is full-time or part-time and whether your certificate is self-paced, online paralegal certificate programs can take anywhere from four months to two years to complete. Many programs have a set sequence of basic courses that you must complete to receive your certificate, but you may have the option of selecting electives in areas of law that interest you.

The time it takes to complete work for paralegal courses online varies by school, but a good rule of thumb is that you’ll spend about nine hours per week on a three-credit course—three hours accessing class materials online and five to six hours studying or completing assignments on your own. All basic courses will cover the legal system, legal research, writing and communication, litigation and procedures, document preparation, law office ethics, and more. Some programs include real estate law, family law, criminal law, and other special areas as part of their core curriculum, while others offer these and other areas as electives.

The primary competencies taught in online paralegal education are communication and interpersonal skills, legal technology, organizational and research skills, and the knowledge to assist attorneys within the United States’ legal system. Students will learn about the tasks that will be expected of them as legal assistants, such as researching facts and laws for cases, organizing and filing documents, writing reports and correspondence, assisting lawyers in cases, and communicating with clients, courts, and others through online paralegal programs.

 

What Kinds of Places Do Paralegals Work?

Paralegals are employed in a wide range of fields. Many professionals earn a bachelor’s degree to gain a competitive edge in the field, but you can still work in the field after completing your certification program.

  • Government paralegal: Government paralegals still work under the supervision of an attorney, but they can specialize in areas such as national defense law or legislation.
  • Intellectual property paralegals assist in developing patent or trademark documentation and creating contracts that protect clients by enforcing trademark and copyright laws.
  • Small law firm paralegal: Paralegals in small law firms work alongside lawyers and attorneys to organize files, conduct legal research, and assist in drafting legal documents.

Paralegals are currently employed in various fields, including education, healthcare, government, real estate, and more. While obtaining a paralegal certification does not guarantee employment, it does provide the necessary knowledge and training to pursue job opportunities.

 

Should I Pursue a Career as a Paralegal?

It’s up to you whether you want to be a paralegal, but comparing your interests and aptitudes to legal work can help. It’s advantageous for paralegals to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. This job also necessitates a lot of planning. It’s also beneficial to be adaptable because you’ll be reporting to your attorney and other legal professionals. If being involved in cases intrigues you, you might enjoy working as a paralegal. With the right credentials, you may be able to enter the law specialization that most interests you, such as environmental law, family law, civil law, or criminal law.

Depending on your position and workplace, you may not need to spend all of your time at a desk. Furthermore, the job outlook for paralegals is bright, with employment growing at a much faster rate than the national average.

 

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Paralegal?

A career as a paralegal can be pursued through various educational programs. Many working paralegals have a bachelor’s degree and paralegal certification. Some hold paralegal associate degrees in the field. Others have found work despite only having a paralegal certificate. A paralegal’s responsibilities do not necessitate a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A certification program can provide sufficient training and development of legal skills, such as writing, research, and technology. Any additional legal studies education can improve your employment prospects. It can also help you find work as a paralegal if you make sure that the American Bar Association approves paralegal educational programs.

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What Is the Time Commitment to Becoming a Paralegal?

The time it takes to become a paralegal is determined by the paralegal educational programs you select. Many people don’t think about becoming a paralegal until after they’ve already started their education. Others begin law school right after high school. Although you can earn your certificate in as little as six months, many people choose to continue their education in order to expand their job opportunities. If you decide to pursue an associate degree, you will likely need to devote an additional two years of study time. 

A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies usually takes four years to complete. To work as a paralegal, you don’t need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the field. With the right certification and training, you can work as a paralegal.

 

What Can a Paralegal Certificate Get You?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Law firms are hiring more paralegals to improve the efficiency of their legal services. As a result, the demand for paralegals has increased. With a paralegal studies certificate, you can go down various paths. You can work in multiple industries, and your responsibilities will vary greatly depending on which one you choose. You could be assisting attorneys in a variety of industries and legal fields. Criminal law, personal injury, contract law, and immigration law are just a few examples of specialty areas. In a court of law, paralegals may be assigned to cases or even work alongside attorneys. They may also assist lawyers with research and the organization of evidence for hearings.

 

Conclusion

An online certified paralegal program is a great place to start your education in the field of law and legal matters. This type of program prepares you to work alongside lawyers in this rapidly expanding field. Paralegals play an important role in legal organizations, and their work can be dynamic and fast-paced. You may also be able to work in various specialized industries that aren’t limited to a law firm’s office. If you’re ready to start a new career in law, start by looking into approved certificate programs offered by accredited universities online.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Legitimate to Enroll in Online Paralegal Programs?

Yes, many accredited online paralegal programs can lead to a career in the legal field. You can check if a program is regionally accredited to ensure its legitimacy. The American Bar Association (ABA) only accredits 25% of paralegal programs, so many legitimate, regionally accredited programs are not ABA-accredited. Enrolling in an ABA-accredited program, on the other hand, may give you an advantage when applying for jobs in the future.

What is the time frame for obtaining a paralegal certificate?

The time it takes to become a certified paralegal varies from 6 months to a year. Accelerated online paralegal programs are also available, allowing you to complete your studies even faster. If you take part-time classes or work simultaneously, you may find that getting your certificate takes longer. Some schools require you to complete an internship as part of your certification requirements. An internship could add three to six months to your schooling time.

What Is the Difference Between a Lawyer and a Paralegal?

The American Bar Association has accredited many paralegal certification programs, but this does not make you a lawyer. A paralegal is a person who has been trained to work in the legal field. They frequently work under the supervision of a lawyer and are not permitted to express legal opinions. A lawyer is a person who has been trained to practice law and can represent clients. They can delegate tasks to paralegals. A lawyer’s educational requirements are much higher than a paralegal’s, and a lawyer’s educational journey is much longer. Furthermore, a lawyer’s average salary is significantly higher.

Is it Worth It to Get a Paralegal Certificate?

Many students believe that earning a paralegal certificate is worthwhile. It can be a quick and valuable way to get your foot in the door of many different industries’ legal departments. Over the next ten years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10% increase in paralegal and legal assistant jobs, which is much faster than the national average. With only a few years of schooling, a paralegal certificate can help you prepare for a career in the legal field. Consider enrolling in a certificate program if you have a strong interest in law and excellent communication and organizational skills.

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