How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey

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Paralegals support lawyers in preparing for trials, corporate litigation, settlements and other legal agreements that require counsel. By conducting research, identifying applicable laws to support a case and gathering supporting data to assist in court activity on behalf of a lawyer, paralegals can quickly become a valued member of a legal team. Paralegals in New Jersey can opt to complete an associate's degree in paralegal studies or complete a paralegal certification program.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Paralegal training
  • Complete basic education requirements to pursue an associate's degree or continuing-education certification. To pursue paralegal studies, you will need to acquire your high school diploma or GED to meet the eligibility requirements for admission.

  • Enroll in a paralegal studies associate's degree program. While not required for training purposes, you can enroll in a college offering an associate degree in paralegal studies, particularly if you do not have previous college education. Search American Bar Association (ABA)-recognized programs by visiting the American Association for Paralegal Education website and select an associate program in paralegal studies in New Jersey. The ABA also recommends certification programs affiliated with professional paralegal organizations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) and the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS).

  • Opt for paralegal continuing education if you have already acquired an associate's or bachelor's degree. Those looking to change careers or who have already completed a college degree program can find reputable paralegal continuing-education programs recognized by the ABA that can typically be completed in less than one year. Rutgers University in New Brunswick offers professional certification in paralegal studies. As part of an online education initiative, this program requires no classroom instruction and is ABA-approved. Berkeley College in East Rutherford offers a continuing-education certificate in paralegal studies for those who have already acquired an associate degree. It also provides an associate's program for those who have not met the 60-credit requirement for the certification program.

  • Join a professional organization for paralegals in New Jersey, including the Paralegal Association of New Jersey. This professional organization can provide education and employment resources to members along with information on paralegal certification to increase your employment options. Paralegals in the area may also consider the South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA).

  • Take the national certification exam to become a certified paralegal. Apply to take the exam and schedule your test through the National Association of Legal Assistants website.

References

  • Photo Credit law courts image by Peter Helin from Fotolia.com
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