Is Continuing Education Important for a Paralegal?

If you are studying to become a paralegal, or you have desires to enroll in a formal training program, you must familiarize yourself with the importance of continuing education in the field. Paralegals are more than just assistants who work under the supervision of licensed attorneys, they are legal researchers who can make a difference in a case by investigating the facts and referencing past outcomes. On a day-to-day basis, a paralegal provides support in law offices or government agencies. They must have an advanced understanding of how the legal system works and stay up-to-date with changes. Read on, and learn about continuing legal education for paralegals.

Staying On Top Of New Issues and New Laws

If you work in legal services, you can never consider yourself an expert in laws and cases no matter how much experience you have. One of the main reasons you will never know everything there is to know about legislative codes and laws is because new cases that are filed and heard can change any given law in a day. Cases that lead to changes in legislation can occur at the local, state and federal level.

If a case does not change the way a law is written, it can change the way that the code is perceived by prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. By attending continuing education seminars and workshops on a regular basis, you can stay on-top of new changes and issues that arise so that you can be of the most assistance to your employer.

Courses Can Help You Develop as a Professional

In addition to learning about new laws or information that is relevant to the field, continuing legal education courses can lead to professional development. There is a long list of courses specifically for paralegals who want to learn more about subjects like professional conduct, ethics, and presentation. These classes are ideal for paralegals who have been in the field and need to brush up on their skills, or for those who have taken a break from the field and are now returning. Employers value employees and candidates who have voluntarily taken these courses to advance their career and to become a stronger professional.

Requirements for Certified Paralegals

While you are not required to get certified to work in the field, many of the top law offices will only hire professionals who are certified through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. The NFPA offers two different certifications for competent professionals and advanced professionals with more practical experience.

While you can take either exam when you have a formal education and the required amount of experience, you will need to take continuing legal education (CLE) courses to maintain your certification. The CLE subject areas include: technology used by legal practitioners, legal research programs, court rules, updates, recent legal decisions, writing skills, and ethics. All of the 475 CLE courses that are accredited by the NFPA are designed to help you keep up in an evolving world of law.

Now that you understand just how important it is to take courses after you complete a paralegal program, you can choose which courses will help you advance. If you are certified, reference the credit requirements for continuing education and start taking your classes in advance to maintain your active certification.