Becoming a part of a professional association for paralegals is a smart career move. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on what is going on in the industry, and you can make a lot of professional connections. Plus, being a part of a professional association can look great on your resume and can help set you apart from others who might be vying for the same position, especially if you are looking for a corporate job or another competitive position. There are actually quite a few professional associations that you can join, but these are five of the most popular and most well-esteemed.
1. The National Association of Legal Assistants
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) is a non-profit organization that focuses on the continuing education and professional development of legal assistants and paralegals like you. NALA represents more than 18,000 paralegals and offers training, helpful publications and more.
2. The American Bar Association
The American Bar Association (ABA) isn’t just for lawyers. Paralegals can also become a part of the ABA. Considered one of the largest voluntary professional associations in the world, the ABA boasts 400,000 members from various professions in the legal industry. As a member of the ABA, you can take part in specialty groups, can receive career advice and can stay abreast of what is going on in the legal industry.
3. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) puts out regular publications, provides training, hosts events and more for paralegals. Many people don’t know it, but NFPA was actually the first professional association for paralegals. It was established in 1974 and is still going strong with 50 member associations and 9,000 individual members.
4. The National Paralegal Association
The National Paralegal Association (NPA) includes members who work in legal offices, for big corporations and more. This association focuses on the education and continuing education of paralegals. Unlike some of the professional associations out there, you can actually join the NPA before you start paralegal school, while you are a student, while you’re a working paralegal or while you are working as an instruction or are otherwise in the paralegal education system.
5. Local Associations
Although the above-mentioned professional associations are available for paralegals all over the nation, there are other options as well. If you are looking for a more specialized and localized membership, you should look for state or even city-specific paralegal associations in your area. For example, the Houston Metropolitan Paralegal Association is a good option for legal assistants who live in the Houston area. For those in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Northwest Paralegal Association is another good choice. If you contact your local bar association or do your research online, you may be able to find a good paralegal association in your area.
It is still a good idea to be a part of a bigger professional organization if you want to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that are available for you. However, becoming a part of a local organization is a good way to find out about local job opportunities and to learn more about changes to state law, which can help you in your day-to-day work.
As you can see, there are multiple professional organizations out there for paralegals like you. If you are looking to maximize your career opportunities, expand your professional network, pad your resume and improve your paralegal education, becoming a part of one or more of these organizations can be a smart career move.