Hello! My name is Alexandria, i am a former preschool and high school teacher, I am currently pivoting to become a paralegal, I’m looking for the best paralegal certificate programs, or best advice to get started. Thanks!

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Former kindergarten teacher here and have never regretted changing careers! I’m in Chicago and absolutely loved the program at Loyola Chicago. Make sure you pick an ABA approved program, as that is what most firms want to see.

Best of luck!!! 💜

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Posts from former teacher really warm my heart and make me feel like i made the right decision. Moving to Chicago in the next few months and i really appreciate the suggestion ☺️

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Grand valley state university had a nice certificate program.

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Thank you! I’ll look into that!

I did mine through the University of Texas. Not sure which is the best, mostly here to say that I, too, am a recovering teacher now working as a paralegal so I’m here for you!

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This really made me feel validated, thanks for the reply! Thanks for the recommendation as well

Depending on which state you’re in, there may even be alternatives to going back to school. For example, in CA, a paralegal shall possess at least one of the following: (1) A certificate of completion of a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association. (2) A certificate of completion of a paralegal program at, or a degree from, a postsecondary institution that requires the successful completion of a minimum of 24 semester, or equivalent, units in law-related courses and that has been accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization or approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education. (3) A baccalaureate degree or an advanced degree in any subject, a minimum of one year of law-related experience under the supervision of an attorney who has been an active member of the State Bar of California for at least the preceding three years or who has practiced in the federal courts of this state for at least the preceding three years, and a written declaration from this attorney stating that the person is qualified to perform paralegal tasks. (4) A high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, a minimum of three years of law-related experience under the supervision of an attorney who has been an active member of the State Bar of California for at least the preceding three years or who has practiced in the federal courts of this state for at least the preceding three years, and a written declaration from this attorney stating that the person is qualified to perform paralegal tasks. This experience and training shall be completed no later than December 31, 2003.

Depending on what your goals are after pivoting and how saturated the paralegal market is in your area, you may find that you’ll start as a legal assistant or legal secretary even with paralegal credentials. Look into the codes governing paralegals in your state and choose the route that works best for you.

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Thank you!!

I got my first paralegal position with only a bachelors degree in an unrelated topic (Business). If you already have that under your belt you might not need extra schooling.

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I’m moving to Chicago soon and i know I’d like to get some kind of edge , my background has only ever been in education and childcare so it’s nice to know that theirs room to pivot. Thank you!!

Of course! A couple other things I just thought of. 1. Double check the program you're interested in - some you can obtain your paralegal certificate while obtaining your BA and others are post baccalaureate. 2. Read over the course offerings in advance and try to plan out what classes you want to take in areas of law you might find interesting. For example, I knew I was interested in IP and Loyola only offered 1 IP class and it was in the spring. I plotted out all my courses and requisites in advance so I could take the IP class in the spring and still graduate on time.

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Look into the state requirements. Some states such as CA have requirements in order to qualify as a paralegal. I'd try to find an ABA approved program. All the job postings in my state list an ABA approved program as a requirement.

I can honestly say a paralegal cert with no experience does little to give you an edge (at least from from my experience. My firm doesn’t hire paralegals without experience AND a cert). I don’t typically see direct experience needed for legal secretary/assistant roles. Apply for those positions, make sure you like it, and then go for the cert.

I started as a legal secretary in Jan and I’m just now beginning a paralegal program (Loyola Chicago’s online Cert) which will take me nearly 9 months. It’s 17k and a huge time commitment, and I don’t think I would have pursued it without some experience first to know if I like it, and which field specifically I want to work in. Best of luck

Ah yes, in currently in school for legal studies. I was just seeing how to start as i knew i needed to get some experience and what credentials are the best.

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