Paralegal Programs in New York
The titles "Legal Assistant" and "Paralegal" are considered synonymous in the state of New York. There are no restrictions or regulations concerning paralegal education in New York. There are paralegal education recommendations set forth by the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations (ESAPA) and their member associations. These recommendations were put into a position statement and submitted by the ESAPA to offer guidelines for employers to evaluate paralegals when hiring, as well as to help potential students evaluate and choose a paralegal program. Read more about these recommendations below.
There are around 21 American Bar Association (ABA) approved paralegal programs offered at various institutions around the state of New York as well as a number of American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) member schools. Institutions accredited by accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education also offer online paralegal programs in New York including associate's, bachelor's and post-baccalaureate certificate paralegal studies options.
- Find Nationally and Regionally Accredited Online Paralegal Programs
- Find Campus Based Paralegal Programs in New York
Choosing a Paralegal Program
Contacting potential employers prior to choosing a paralegal program is often a good starting point to learn what type of education is most competitive in the local marketplace. Job postings from Law firms and other employers in the urban areas of New York tend to favor hiring paralegals with work experience in a specific field of law and a formal education. Some postings do specify they are looking for paralegals with a bachelor's degree and others do not. Email or call the human resources department of any potential employer to get more specific information.
Due to the increasing complexity of the legal field and the increased expectations of paralegals a formal education is becoming a standard for entering the paralegal profession. There are varying views as to what type education is deemed essential for entry into the profession. The ESAPA has developed and submitted a position statement with recommendations regarding minimum education standards for entering the paralegal profession in the state of New York. These are just recommendations and not all employers are considering these recommendations when hiring paralegals. Many employers consider work experience in a specific field of law as the most important factor when hiring paralegals and those with a formal education in paralegal studies are just more competitive for the position.
The ESAPA holds similar recommendations to those of the AAfPE. The ESAPA recommends paralegals have an associate's or bachelor's degree with a minor, major or concentration in paralegal studies or a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies and that these credentials should be earned through an American Bar Association (ABA) approved paralegal program, an AAfPE member school or an institution that is registered by the New York State Education Department and be offered at a school accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools or an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. More information regarding these recommendations can be found at the ESAPA web site: www.empirestateparalegals.org
Though the ESAPA recommends ABA approved paralegal programs based on their specific requirements for being considered an ABA approved program, other institutions in New York also offer well respected and high quality paralegal education. Non-ABA approved paralegal programs often have significantly less expensive tuition and offer comparable education. Read more about ABA versus non-ABA approved paralegal programs.
The ESAPA disapproves of online paralegal programs, suggesting they do a disservice to the student, employers and the profession. They feel that a quality paralegal education should include interaction between the student and faculty as well as with other students. Interaction does enhance learning however, online programs do offer the ability to interact live with students and faculty as well as communicate via email and social networks. Online paralegal programs also offer individuals an opportunity to gain formal paralegal education while maintaining their current employment and/or family life. This education or career path may not have been an option had only campus based paralegal programs been available to the individual.
Remember, the ESAPA is only offering recommendations for individuals looking to enter the paralegal profession and not all employers are following these recommendations. Choose a paralegal program that fits your goals and needs, both professionally and personally. Research the paralegal education options offered in New York below. One of these programs may help prepare you for entry into the paralegal profession.