Often people considering a paralegal career take correspondence courses rather than attend classes. Most instructors of these courses are practicing professionals who can give students valuable insights from their practical experiences. Some paralegal correspondence courses can be completed in eight to two years. After completing their paralegal correspondence courses, students go on to be certified. Although paralegal correspondence courses offer advantages, they can also present challenges.
What is a Paralegal Correspondence Course?
Paralegals are professionals that assist lawyers in different legal capacities. They have more responsibilities than clerical workers as they help lawyers in tasks such as preparing for trials, closings or meetings.
Also known as distance courses, correspondence courses usually work by an instructor assigning work. Then students complete the assignments and may write letters back to their instructor with any questions they may have, along with their assignments. After receiving the packages, teachers grade assignments and respond to letters.
Benefits of Paralegal Correspondence Courses
Taking paralegal correspondence courses helps in attaining adequate career training skills needed to begin a career or for progressing in an existing career. Because there’s no commuting involved money is saved in transportation.
Students receive more time for completing assignments and seminars are exceptionally flexible. However, the best benefit of paralegal correspondence courses is being able to attend school at any time or place at your convenience.
Disadvantages of Paralegal Correspondence Courses
There’s less personal interaction taking a correspondence course rather than attending class. Although some correspondence courses give students numbers to call for help, the numbers don’t usually link them directly to an instructor, notes the Paralegal Guide website.
Communications between students and instructors take considerable time. Completing an assignment and then mailing it to the teacher involves a few days or more. Then it takes more time for the instructor to grade the work and answer questions before it’s mailed back.
Paralegal Correspondence Course Considerations
Know how a particular course works before enrolling, as well as some basic information before investing in a course such as the time given for completing assignments, besides the time needed for completing a program.
The three professional organizations offering certification include the National Federation of Paralegal Association, the American Alliance of Paralegals and National Association of Legal Assistants (ACCR Paralegal Training). Before signing up for certification as paralegal, first consider the various certification types for each organization and what’s needed for certification.
Just receiving a certificate for completing a correspondence after completing a correspondence course is not the same thing as actually getting certified by a professional organization which provides actual paralegal certification (ACCR Paralegal Training).
Realize that some online courses are not what they appear to be and don’t adequately prepare students for a paralegal career. Watch out for anyone at the school trying to force you to sign a contract or loan for paying for the total program upfront. Realize that colleges, community colleges and universities only require students to pay on a semester basis.