Paralegal Programs in Tennessee
There are no certification, regulation or licensure requirements for paralegals in Tennessee. There are also no minimum education qualifications for becoming a paralegal in Tennessee. Given that there is no regulation of the paralegal profession, there is some ambiguity for employers as well as paralegals as to baseline requirements for the profession and what can be expected of a paralegal. With this in mind the Tennessee Paralegal Association and its member associations became affiliates of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). NALA offers a voluntary national certification called the Certified Legal Assistant or Certified Paralegal (CLA/CP). There are certain education criteria that paralegals must meet in order to be eligible to sit for the CLA/CP exam, which can be found on their website: www.nala.org/cert.htm
The National Federation for Paralegal Associations (NFPA) also offers a national certification, which upon successful completion, one is approved to use the title Registered Paralegal (RP). Both certifications do have specific education and work experience criteria that must be met for eligibility to sit for certification. Read more about the NFPA PACE exam eligibility. Paralegals that are looking for a long, successful career should pay careful consideration to their education and national certification choices.
There are ten American Bar Association Approved (ABA) paralegal programs, eleven American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) member schools and various options for institutionally accredited online and campus based schools offering paralegal programs in Tennessee. More information about these schools and programs can be found below.
- Find Nationally and Regionally Accredited Online Paralegal Programs
- Find Campus Based Paralegal Programs in Tennessee
Paralegal Education and Career Considerations
The AAfPE recommends earning an associate's, bachelor's or post-degree certificate with a concentration, minor or major in paralegal or related area through an ABA approved paralegal program or an AAfPE member school or a school that has been accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education. Learn more about ABA and non-ABA approved paralegal programs. Schools offering one or more of these criteria are listed below.
Online paralegal programs have constantly been improving their quality of education and now many of them are institutionally accredited. Online programs provide an effective and flexible way for students to earn their degree while maintaining employment as well without commuting. Be aware that there are some short term programs being marketed that do not provide the recommended hours of legal specialty courses by the ABA or AAfPE. It's recommended to avoid these programs. Below are online and campus based schools with their accreditation information.
With the increased popularity of the paralegal profession and competition for entry-level to experienced positions higher than ever before, formal education has become an important consideration for anyone looking to enter this career field. Employers in Tennessee have no way to gage a paralegal's qualifications or education background, which is why many employers are trending toward hiring paralegals with a national certification. The CLA/CP or RP certification demonstrates a paralegal's commitment to the profession as well as that the paralegal is able to provide the highest quality services to the employer and client. Certification is not a hiring requirement, but getting an education that may at least qualify you for the certification exams can leave the door open if or when you choose to pursue certification.
Contact potential employers to learn about their hiring qualifications. This can provide a better idea of what level of education and how much work experience one needs to be competitive in the marketplace.
The paralegal profession offers many opportunities for specialization. A few of the fastest growing areas include health care, elder law, bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce and criminal law. Private law firms are the largest employers of paralegals in Tennessee however, banks, corporate legal departments and insurance companies are also places where paralegals have been finding employment in Tennessee.
Find a school that fits your needs and goals below.
Online Criminal Justice Schools
- Associate's - Paralegal Studies (Online)
- Associate's - Paralegal (Online)
- Certificate - Paralegal (Online)