Individuals in Virginia seeking a career as a paralegal can complete a 2-year associate's degree or 1-year certificate program. There may be programs specifically in paralegal studies or this field may be addressed in administrative support or legal assistant programs. Some schools offer distance learning paralegal certificate programs. To enroll in any of these programs, applicants need to meet the standard admissions requirements, including passing a placement test and showing proof of high school graduation.
Central Virginia Community College
Central Virginia Community College is a public college located in the city of Lynchburg. Students interested in becoming paralegals can complete the school's 36-credit legal assistant certificate program. During the first year of the program, students study real estate law, family law and real estate abstracting, while the second year covers topics like legal research, business law, and criminal law. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work under the supervision of an attorney as a paralegal or legal assistant.
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
At this Richmond college, students can choose to specialize in litigation or general practice in the Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program. The general practice specialty has courses in estate planning and probate, real estate settlement and bankruptcy law. The litigation specialty program includes courses in administration practices and procedures, post-trial and appellate practices, torts, discovery practices, and trial preparation. General paralegal studies courses include family and criminal law, legal aspects of business organizations and ethics.
John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College in Chester offers one program for aspiring paralegals. A career studies certificate in paralegal studies can be completed in 3 semesters and requires students to complete 18 credits. Students in the certificate program begin with introductory courses in law and legal assisting, as well as computer applications and concepts. Students then learn about legal research and writing.
Founded in 1971, Liberty University is a private Christian university located in the city of Lynchburg. The college offers 3 programs for paralegal students, all of which are offered online. The paralegal certificate program requires 18 credits and includes courses in the foundations of law, tort law and civil practice. The 60-credit hour Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies program covers legal research and writing, criminal practice and real estate transactions, along with general studies courses. This program can be completed in 4 semesters. The 4-year Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies degree program includes core classes in wills, trusts and estates; civil practice; and family law.
Lord Fairfax Community College
Located in Middletown, this college offers an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies degree program that can be completed in 4 semesters. Students study family law, real estate law, law office administration and management, professional development and criminal law. Graduates are prepared for employment in public or private legal organizations.
New River Community College
This Dublin-based school offers 2 paralegal training programs. The 2-year program for the Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies includes classes in trial preparation, legal research and law office management. The school also offers an AAS program in administrative support technology with a paralegal administrative support specialty. This program includes courses that prepare students in word processing, computers, and customer service.
Northern Virginia Community College
Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale is a public 2-year college that offers associate's degree and certificate programs to a student body of roughly 50,000. The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program consists of general studies classes and electives, in addition to courses in legal subjects, such as criminal law, torts, and legal transactions. This American Bar Association-approved program is 65 credits.
Thomas Nelson Community College
Based in Hampton, Thomas Nelson Community College offers a legal assistant certificate program and an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program. The 30-credit legal assistant certificate program offers instruction in trial preparation and discovery practice, legal transactions, and legal research. The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program consists of general studies courses and paralegal courses, such as legal evidence, criminal law, legal transactions, and estate planning. Students in this program also complete an internship.
Tidewater Community College
Tidewater Community College is located in Norfolk, and it enrolls more than 32,000 students. Tidewater offers a number of degree and certificate programs for aspiring paralegals and legal assistants. Students can earn a legal assistant certificate or a career studies certificate as a paralegal general practice specialist or a litigation specialist. There's also an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program with specializations in general practice or litigation.
Virginia Western Community College
Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies at this Roanoke college. The 2-year program includes general education courses, electives, and major courses. Students study family law, Virginia and federal procedures, bankruptcy, business communications and legal aspects of business organizations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most paralegals have a degree or certificate in paralegal studies. Although paralegals are not required to be licensed or certified, there are a few organizations for individuals who seek voluntary certification. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers an exam for those who wish to be certified legal assistants and certified paralegals, and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offers an exam that grants the title of a registered paralegal to those who pass.
The NFPA requires applicants to have either completed a paralegal degree program or meet specific combinations of education and experience. For instance, individuals with just a high school diploma may also qualify for the exam if he or she also has completed five years of experience and 12 hours of legal continuing education classes. In Virginia, a number of schools offer educational programs for those who wish to become paralegals. Ten of the state's largest schools are profiled below.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Paralegal Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Central Virginia Community College||2-year, public; small city||Legal Assistant Certificate|| $4,838 (in-state)*
|J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies|| $4,998 (in-state)*
|John Tyler Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Paralegal Studies Career Studies Certificate,|| $4,800 (in-state)*
|Liberty University||4-year, private, not-for-profit; small city|| Paralegal Studies Certificate,
Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies,
Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
|Lord Fairfax Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies|| $4,739 (in-state)*
|New River Community College||2-year, public; fringe town|| Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies,
Associate in Applied Science in Administrative Support Technology, paralegal specialization
| $4,697 (in-state)*
|Northern Virginia Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies|| $5,610 (in-state)*
|Thomas Nelson Community College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Legal Assistant Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
| $4,806 (in-state)*
|Tidewater Community College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Legal Assistant Certificate,
Paralegal General Practice Specialist Career Studies Certificate,
Litigation Specialist Career Studies Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies,
Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies - General Practice,
Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies - Litigation
| $5,561 (in-state)*
|Virginia Western Community College||2-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies|| $5,355 (in-state)*
Source: *NCES College Navigator