As with many other professional training programs, the most well-respected paralegal training programs must be approved/accredited by a nationally-recognized organization. While many paralegal training programs are approved by state and federal educational organizations, if you truly wish to obtain the highest-quality education then you should strive to attend a program approved by the American Bar Association, or the ABA.
How Programs Are Approved by the ABA
The American Bar Association features a unique panel known as the Standing Committee on Paralegals. Within this committee is an Approval Commission, which is primarily responsible for the setting the various standards and regulating the curriculum for paralegal training programs. If a school wishes to have its paralegal training program approved by the American Bar Association, they must complete a highly detailed approval process. This detailed process involves various self-evaluation reports as well as various on-site evaluations by members of the ABA Approval Committee.
Along with these investigations into the school, no training program is able to be approved by the American Bar Association if it’s been in place for less than two years. Training programs must also be able to demonstrate students have successfully graduated from the program. Along with the aforementioned information, a school who wishes to be accredited by the American Bar Association must be prepared to demonstrate the following:
1.) Student Enrollment Detailed by Year and Degree
2.) Number of Graduates from the Training Program by Year
3.) Names and Detailed Professional History of Its Advisory Committee
4.) Faculty Information
5.) Detailed Information Regarding Its Curriculum for All Paralegal Training Programs
6.) Detailed List of Legal Specialty Coursework
Of course, the aforementioned is only a small sampling of what a school must go through in order to be approved by the American Bar Association. Once the school has provided all of the necessary components of the application process, the American Bar Association Approval Committee reviews the materials to determine if the school initially qualifies.
If so, then the ABA Approval Committee schedules an on-site evaluation of not only the paralegal training department, but also the entire institution. The on-site evaluation generally consists of a two-person team either from the ABA Approval Committee or their official representatives.
After the on-site evaluation, the reviewing team then creates and submits their findings to the Approval Commission, which is then reviewed. Should the committee find that the school satisfies the various requirements in order to be accredited, the school is then issued a certificate of approval. This certificate is only valid for seven years. Afterward, the entire process must be started over to ensure the training institution is offering the latest curriculum and teaching capabilities to enhance the education of students.