Paralegals who are certified by professional organizations need to periodically earn continuing education credits to maintain their certification. Those seeking continuing education credits (CEUs) can find Web-based seminars and self-study programs, as well as in-person educational programs.
Continuing Education Requirements
Paralegals needing to accumulate CEUs are typically professionals who hold certification. CEUs are needed to maintain certification as well as expand a paralegal's knowledge of the law. While most employers don't require certification for paralegals, certification can lead to career advancement.
Every five years, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) requires 50 hours of CEUs in order to renew the Certified Legal Assistant designation. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations offers the Professional Paralegal certification. For this designation, paralegals must earn 12 CEUs every two years.
The National Association of Legal Secretaries offers the Professional Paralegal designation, which requires 75 hours for recertification every five years. The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. offers the American Alliance Certified Paralegal credential, which requires individuals to complete 18 hours of CEUs every three years.
As with certification, requirements for continuing education may vary depending on state and organization. For example, in North Carolina, paralegals need six hours of CEUs annually in order to maintain voluntary certification through the North Carolina State Bar.
Paralegal Continuing Education Options
Live Web Seminars and Self-Study Programs
NALA, one of the professional organizations offering certification, provides many ways to earn continuing education units. Students can enroll in Web-based programs that include live Web seminars and self-study options. The live Web seminars are offered in real-time and pre-recorded formats. Topics covered include:
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Elder law
- Written communication
- Exam preparation
Self-study options are available at all times and include slide presentations, audio recordings and practice tests. The self-study options cover topics such as:
- Civil litigation
- Contract law
- Written communication
- American legal system
Live Educational Programs
Another option for earning CEUs is NALA's live educational programs, which include an annual convention educational program offered every July and a certified paralegal short course. This course provides an intensive review for candidates seeking to maintain certified paralegal status.
Another organization offering in-person paralegal seminars is the Institute for Paralegal Education. The organization hosts seminars in cities throughout the country, covering a wide range of topics relevant to paralegals and legal assistants. Plus, for individuals who cannot attend, audio and materials are made available online afterward. Some subjects of discussion may include:
- Case management
- Divorce cases
- Medical records
- Trial preparation
- Probate process
Paralegals who want or need to earn CEUs can find online and in-person educational programs that can help them increase their knowledge in the field and maintain voluntary certifications.