Online Paralegal Certificate Programs Certifications & Continuing Education Online for Paralegals

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Paralegals work closely with attorneys to handle a huge array of legal responsibilities. One of the most popular ways to become paralegal is through a certificate program. Usually taking one year or less to complete, online paralegal certificate programs offer a quick and convenient way for individuals to begin a career in law. The certificate program should teach students about various aspects of the law, how to conduct legal research and how to effectively provide administrative support to busy attorneys. If working in a law office seems intriguing, read on to find out how to become a paralegal through an online certification program.

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Types of Online Paralegal Certificates

Though one of the most popular ways to become a paralegal is through the certificate program, there are also certifications available to those who are already working as paralegals. These certifications are not required, but offer an opportunity to stand out from the rest of the paralegals in the competitive workforce. Below are some of the reasons why a hardworking professional should pursue an online paralegal certificate program.

Improve professional marketability

There are two major credentialing bodies for paralegals: the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Both offer voluntary certifications that paralegals can use to prove a requisite level of knowledge. In order to help prepare for these examinations, students may enroll in an online paralegal course which will cover concepts, skills and information on a certification examination.

Maintain paralegal certification

Assuming a paralegal has obtained a voluntary certification from a credentialing body such as the NALA or the NFPA, they will need to maintain the credential by taking continuing education classes. Because some of these required classes can be taken over the Internet, online paralegal classes can be a convenient way to maintain certification without having to disrupt the busy schedule of the law office.

Become a paralegal

The biggest reason to take an online paralegal certification class is to obtain a certificate, which is usually required to work as a paralegal. Many schools offer paralegal studies programs delivered completely online that can allow students to obtain their certificate in just a few months. Courses will cover an array of substantive legal subjects such as criminal law and family law, as well as office skills and legal researching techniques.

Obtain advanced certifications

Depending on the voluntary certification already obtained, more advanced certifications are also available. For example, the NALA offers the Advanced Paralegal Certification program, which includes courses of approximately 20 hours in length in a wide range of subjects, such as e-discovery, family law, estate planning, alternative dispute resolution, trial practice, trademarks and personal injury.

Learn more about a particular legal specialty

Sometimes a paralegal may want simply want to learn more about a specific legal subject. Perhaps they are working for a new attorney in a different legal area and want to understand the big picture. Or maybe they want to switch practice areas and feel learning more about another area will help their chances of moving to another job. Either way, online paralegal classes can be a fast and easy way to learn more and demonstrate a genuine interest about a particular legal area.

Spotlight: 10 Online Paralegal Programs

Budding paralegals are in luck, as there are plenty of online certificate programs to choose from. Each school may have its own specific curriculum, but most programs will be very similar and teach the same general topics and skills. The following list spotlights 10 high quality programs that offer paralegal certificates online.

  • Paralegal Studies Program

    Offered by: Boston University
    Cost: $3,995
    Length: 14 weeks
    Format: Completely online or hybrid
    Outcome: Certificate in Paralegal Studies

    One of the advantages of getting a paralegal certificate from Boston University is the quality of the instruction. Professors are practicing attorneys, who know what it takes to practice law and bring a wealth of real world experience to the classroom. Online students will have the convenience of flexible learning and having all relevant course materials available online.

  • Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies

    Offered by: UC Berkeley Extension
    Cost: Approximately $7,000
    Length: Six months
    Format: Completely online, with some courses offered in hybrid format
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    A paralegal certificate can be obtained completely online, providing the most convenient paralegal education possible. In addition to learning essential administrative and legal research skills, students can expect to encounter an especially wide range of legal subjects in their curriculum.

  • Paralegal Online Program

    Offered by: Duke University
    Cost: Approximately $6,995
    Length: Five to 12 months
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    Students who complete Duke University’s paralegal online program will not only have a certificate and knowledge to work in the legal field, but will also have received top notch legal instruction from one of the best universities in the country. The certificate program is self-paced, which means students have the ability to complete their coursework when they choose, as long as they complete the requirements within one year.

  • Paralegal Certificate Online

    Offered by: George Mason University
    Cost: $1,189
    Length: 14 weeks
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    Even though this paralegal certificate program is fully online, students will experience direct interaction with their instructors and peers in order to facilitate their learning. George Mason offers its paralegal certificate program in conjunction with The Center for Legal Studies, which is a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

  • Online Paralegal Certificate Program

    Offered by: University of Miami
    Cost: $6,995
    Length: Four to six months
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    This online paralegal program is unique in that it places extra emphasis on practical skills that paralegals will need when entering the legal world. For example, students will have access to both Westlaw and LexisNexis in order to obtain the most comprehensive legal research experience possible.

  • Paralegal Studies Certificate

    Offered by: Liberty University
    Cost: Approximately $6,750
    Length: 18 credit hours
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    Liberty University’s online paralegal studies curriculum is specially designed to not only train students for a job in the legal field by covering substantive and procedural law, but also provide a foundation for a later bachelor’s degree if the student chooses to go in that direction.

  • Online Paralegal Studies Program

    Offered by: Rice University
    Cost: $4,350
    Length: Five months
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    Students who enroll in Rice University’s online paralegal studies program will receive training in both substantive law and office administrative skills from practicing attorneys. Additionally, students will receive placement assistance in the form of interview coaching and resume advice from the career services department.

  • Paralegal Certificate Program

    Offered by: Rutgers University
    Cost: Approximately $2,665
    Length: Up to 12 months
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    Students will receive instruction in not only the necessary legal concepts and skills, but in law office efficiency as well. Graduates will be prepared to take the NALA certification, and enjoy complimentary access to NALA’s exam prep courses, which serve as an excellent supplement to the learning materials offered by Rutgers University.

  • Paralegal Certificate Course Online

    Offered by: Oregon State University
    Cost: Approximately $1,289
    Length: 14 weeks
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate /strong>

    Students will not only receive the necessary training to perform as a highly qualified paralegal in a law office, but will also learn how to set up shop on their own as a freelance paralegal. It’s important to note that the cost to get the certificate is extremely affordable, much cheaper than many other programs.

  • Paralegal Studies Certificate Program

    Offered by: University of South Carolina
    Cost: $4,995
    Length: Six months
    Format: Completely online
    Outcome: Paralegal Certificate

    This paralegal studies certificate program provides comprehensive and high quality training, with over 120 hours of learning over six months. Incoming students must already have either a four-year bachelor’s degree or four years of professional work experience.

MOOCs & Free Certification Courses for Paralegal Studies

For those who simply want additional knowledge and training about legal issues, it isn’t necessary to pay tuition. Many classes are offered for free, with an official credential available after payment of a nominal fee. These classes generally won’t count toward the requirements to become a paralegal, but they will offer useful knowledge during a paralegal’s practice.

Course Offered by Length Outcome
Compliance in Office 365: eDiscovery edX 4 weeks Verified Certificate
Contract Law: From Trust to Promise to Contract edX 8 weeks Verified Certificate
International Law edX 8 weeks Verified Certificate
Diploma in Legal Studies ALISON 10-15 Hours Diploma, certificate or PDF
Legal Studies – Adversary Trial System ALISON 2-3 Hours Diploma, certificate or PDF
Introduction to Copyright Law MIT OpenCourseWare Self-paced; originally offered as a four-week course Students will learn the basics of copyright law in the United States, as well as comprehensive research skills
Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier MIT Open CourseWare Self-paced; originally offered as a 12-week course Explains how the law, policy and technology all interact regarding use of the Internet
Inventions and Patents MIT Open CourseWare Self-paced; originally offered as a 9-week course Students will gain an understanding of how the patent system was created and evolved in order to balance the rights of inventors and members of society
Understanding the Origins of Crime Open2Study 3 hours Students will examine criminal behavior within the context of evolution

Apps & Podcasts for Paralegals

As is true with attorneys, paralegals will usually benefit for getting up-to-date news regarding the legal profession and finding new ways of working more efficiently. That’s where apps and podcasts come in, providing a quick and easy method of becoming more productive and learning new things.


The practice of law is largely focused on working as efficiently as possible. Getting work done, especially billable work while away from the office, is always a huge plus. Smartphone apps are very useful in improving productivity and consequently, profitability. The following is a list of apps that all paralegals should consider using.


See Description

Westlaw’s powerful legal research tool is available for smartphone or tablet. This app can be used to look for important legal cases, verify if a case is still “good law” and many other features. Not as good as using Westlaw on an office computer, but on this go, it’s better than nothing.

Lawyer ON GO

Free (iOS) and $19.99 (Android)
See Description
Lawyer ON GO

Lawyer ON GO is an app designed to keep legal professionals organized. This app will allow client data to be accessible from a smartphone or tablet and allow for client and case management on the go.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (LawStack’s FRCP)

See Description
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (LawStack’s FRCP)

This app is simple a way of putting the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on a smartphone or tablet for easy electronic access. There is a thorough search function and all the Rules are accessible offline.

Paralegal Pocket Guide & Prep

See Description
Paralegal Pocket Guide & Prep

This app is perfect for individuals studying to be a paralegal and those already practicing. This app offers flashcards to help with study, a comprehensive list of legal terms and a news feed with the most recent articles concerning paralegal matters.



There’s a reason lawyers call their job “practicing” the law – there’s always something new to learn and understand. The legal profession is also ripe with courtroom stories that are sure to entertain. The following is a list of podcasts that are likely to be worth a listen.

This podcast is a discussion of the latest news and trends of the paralegal profession. Published every month, episodes cover a wide range of topics such as career advice, the current job market and new technology for the legal profession.

Produced in association with the ABA, the Legal Rebels podcast explores changes and trends for the legal profession, largely those rooted in the application of technology to the practice of law or new ways of providing legal services.

Evolve Law See Description

As the name implies, Evolve Law is a podcast that looks at how the practice of law is evolving. There is a strong focus on new technology and services available to law firms and how they can change how people practice the law and engage in legal transactions.

Published every few months, the ESI Bytes podcast focuses on electronic discovery and recent updates on how it’s practiced. Other legal related news and practice advice is provided as well.

This podcast delves into how to run a legal practice. While theoretically focused on law firm owners, paralegals will also find this podcast useful as it goes into vender relationships and the particulars of actually running an office.

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