Are you interested in an exciting career in law? Do you want to make positive difference in the lives of others? Obtain your paralegal certificate and become a certified paralegal. Not only will you be able to work closely with attorneys and other legal professionals, but you'll be able to make a viable contribution to our legal field. Here's some concrete information on how to go about obtaining paralegal certification.

Make sure you have the right skills and qualifications. As a certified paralegal, you will interview clients, organize and synthesize information, prepare comprehensive reports, pleadings, motions, complaints and letters. You must possess excellent analytical, written and verbal skills. Lastly, depending on your employer, you'll need an associate's degree and a paralegal certificate or an associate's degree with a focus on paralegal studies. Most associate's degree programs, like the one offered at the National Paralegal College (see Resources below), takes about 7 months.

Explore paralegal certificate programs. There are many reputable institutions that offer both online and offline programs. In fact, many local community colleges offer both certificate and degree programs. When considering which paralegal program to pursue, consider the reputation of the institution, the price of the program, as well as job placement success rates (see Resources below).

Ensure legitimacy. With any program you choose, carefully scrutinize the certification program to ensure its legitimacy. This can be done by evaluating the curriculum, talking to past students and current staff, and ensuring that it is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) or other agencies. Most legitimate programs require 30 credits/300 hours with a grade of "C" or above to earn your paralegal certificate. For instance, the UC Irvine program meets these requirements (see Resources below).

Choose your paralegal certificate program. After you have chosen a legitimate program, you must apply early. The application procedure includes filling out an online application, sending recommendation letters, completing a personal statement/written examination and possibly being interviewed.

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