Distance Education Programs for Paralegals:
Are They Worthwhile?

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), on its website, notes that paralegal distance education programs are a “viable alternative” to traditional, brick-and-mortar institutions. With many paralegal students entering the profession from other professions, distance education (i.e., online schools) often makes good sense.

Availability and Accessibility

The NFPA states that accessibility to a paralegal education is of the utmost importance for attracting new individuals to the profession, thereby highlighting the legitimacy of distance education programs for paralegals. The NFPA also adds that, due to its “accessibility and flexibility,” distance education may be the only type of education available to some students.

The NFPA notes that a distance education program can be any situation where the instructor and the student are not together in person, but they still have interactive communication. Distance education is gaining in popularity among a number of programs and professions, with the paralegal profession being no exception.

Meeting Core Curriculum Requirements

Although the NFPA recognizes that not all courses may be right for distance education, such as courses that require hands-on work (internships, for example), it does recognize that distance education, provided it adheres to the NFPA’s existing core curriculum, is an important component of paralegal education.

General Education Requirements for Paralegal Programs

24 semester hours of college work in the following areas:

  • Natural Science
  • English Composition
  • Humanities
  • Philosophy/Logic
  • Mathematics
  • Political Science/History
  • Sociology
  • Speech/Communication

Legal Specialty Education Requirements

24 semester hours of work in the following areas:

  • Business and Corporate Law
  • Contracts
  • Family Law
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Litigation/Civil Procedure
  • Real Property Transaction
  • Torts
  • Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

Additional coursework in the following areas may be beneficial for paralegal students, depending on the legal market and the paralegal student’s professional goals:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Social Security Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Tax Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Elder Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Criminal Law

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