Someone without a degree may want to know if they can become a paralegal without going to school. There are ways to accomplish this, but it is not recommended for students who have their sights set on this profession. Here are the options students have if they want to try securing a job as a paralegal without a formal education.
Related resource: Top 10 Best Value Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Paralegal Studies
Options For Those Who Don’t Hold A Degree
Students without high school diplomas are going to face an uphill battle to become paralegals. Their only real option is to look for jobs in law offices they may be qualified for, such as clerks and assistants, and work their way up to promotion in that firm. Eventually, experience may be enough to overcome not having a formal education. The same holds true for someone with formal education but not in paralegal studies. Students with degrees in other subjects have more options and firms may be more likely to hire them. It is often not significantly expensive or time-consuming to get a paralegal certificate, so doing so for students with bachelor’s or associate’s degrees in other subjects is advised if they are serious about getting a job as a paralegal.
There Are No Legal Education Requirements
Unlike for attorneys, most states have no legal requirements governing who can work as a paralegal. This helps answer the question of can one become a paralegal without going to school and opens up opportunities with law firms that are willing to hire paralegals who do not have a formal education. Exceptions include California, which does require paralegals to have college credit hours in paralegal studies, a bachelor’s degree or a paralegal certificate in order to be licensed. Do note that laws can change and as paralegals become more popular in law firms there have been increased calls to more closely regulate this profession.
Degrees Can Be Obtained Later
For anyone who wants to enter the workforce right away, getting a job in a law firm that only requires a high school diploma is a viable option. Professionals always have the option of going to school and getting a degree later when they are ready. The specialized legal experience may even help prospective students get into the paralegal program of their choice. Workers may also need to get one in order to qualify for a promotion to paralegal. This approach allows an individual to save money for a degree program as well as decide whether this profession is really the right one for them.
It Is Better To Get A Degree
Ultimately, it is better for aspiring paralegals to complete some college education. The most common approaches to this are to get an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or earn a paralegal certificate with a bachelor’s degree in another subject. Obtaining a degree from a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association is even better, as such programs are viewed with more prestige by employers and professional organizations. Having formal education will also make paralegals more likely to succeed in their jobs, as they will have been trained in key legal topics and procedures.
Paralegals are not like attorneys and typically do not require special education to be able to legally work in this role. However, most law firms have their own standards that include some level of formal education in the subject. One can become a paralegal without going to school but doing so is undeniably more difficult.