Overview of Online Paralegal Certificate Programs in New York City
The New York City Paralegal Association acknowledges that there are many paths toward becoming a paralegal, and receiving paralegal education remains an important step. The Center for Legal Studies (CLS), a legal education company, designs the curriculum of most online paralegal certificate programs in New York City; through this program, schools serve as host institutions for the curriculum. Other schools like Pace University and Berkeley College have their own programs.
Generally, online paralegal certificate courses can be taken by anyone holding a high school diploma or the equivalent. It is also recommended that they possess computer and writing skills. Some schools also have an age requirement to enroll in the program.
Online Paralegal Certificate Requirements
Paralegal certificate programs are designed to educate both students new to the field and professionals with prior legal work experience on the role of the paralegal in a law firm or government office. These programs allow them to develop essential skills in writing, document preparation, and research. The legal system, ethics, legal authority, and the civil procedure are some key topics.
Information and Requirements
Generally, NYC-based online paralegal certificate programs are self-paced and take only three to four months to complete. Only the completion of coursework and exams is needed for students to graduate. However, some schools may have other requirements, such as a capstone project or portfolio review.
To maximize learning, students need a laptop or desktop computer and a stable and high-speed internet connection. Some school websites allow students to test their computers for compatibility with the software and class materials.
List of New York City Online Paralegal Certificate Programs
While most NYC-based programs do not grant credits and are condensed versions of a traditional paralegal certificate program, a few schools do grant credits.
Borough of Manhattan Community College
Along with many other schools, the Borough of Manhattan Community College hosts the CLS Paralegal Certificate Course. Classes are self-paced, but students are given 14 weeks to finish the entire program. The curriculum is divided into two sessions, 'Paralegal I' and 'Paralegal II', that must be taken consecutively. Each session has a specific set of topics and learning goals, reading and writing assignments, and exams.
Pace University's online Paralegal Certificate Program may take four months or one year to finish, depending on which class or schedule students enroll in. Applicants must be at least 18 years old with a GED or high school diploma to qualify for the program. Classes follow an evening schedule that is designed for working students who need to balance employment and schoolwork. Among the class topics covered are court structure, document preparation, research skills, criminal law, and torts. Pace University also grants 12 continuing education units (CEUs) to those who finish this program.
Unlike most online paralegal certificate programs in NYC, the online paralegal certificate programs of Berkeley College are credit-based: 18 credits are needed to earn the Core Paralegal Certificate, nine credits for the Elective Paralegal Certificate, and 27 credits for the Advanced Paralegal Certificate. Depending on the option, the program can be completed within two to four semesters. Applicants need only a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify. Core courses cover the essentials of paralegal education: an introduction to law, ethics, legal research and writing, civil litigation, and torts. Class requirements include the completion of case studies, research assignments, and exams as well as participation in the online discussion board.
Career Outlook for Paralegal Certificate Holders
Graduates of a paralegal certificate program may choose to practice the paralegal profession right away or take a national certification exam, provided they meet education requirements.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the yearly median salary for paralegals and legal assistants was $51,740 as of May 2019. An employment growth 12% was projected for these occupations from 2018 to 2028.
Most schools in NYC host the CLS Paralegal Certificate Course, although there are exceptions, and only a high school diploma or GED is required of applicants. Generally, these programs' coursework and exams can be completed in a year at most.