Virginia Paralegal Career Data

Paralegal Education in Virginia 

Flag of Virginia

Flag of Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Virginia State defines paralegal as ” The American Bar Association recognizes and has formulated guidelines for the utilization of paralegals.  Although there are several formal definitions of a paralegal in general, a paralegal is a specially trained individual who performs substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts.  Paralegals either work under the supervision of an attorney, who assumes professional responsibility for the final work product, or work in areas where lay individuals are explicitly authorized by statute or regulation to assume certain law related responsibilities.”

As in most states, a person can enter the paralegal field as easily as accepting a job position; there are no set standards for education or experience before one can become a paralegal, but employers are often more picky and prefer at least a Post-Baccalaureate certification or an Associates degree in paralegal studies or equivalent. To help answer the employer concern about what constitutes a good hire since there are no regulations, the local Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations created guidelines to help lead employers in the right direction. Most will take their cues from these suggestions, which are: Achieving national certification from a program recognized by Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations (VAPA); Graduation from a program that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or one offering equal rigor; Completion of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in any discipline with a minimum of 24-semester hours comprised of paralegal studies courses OR one year of paralegal work experience, attested to by the supervising attorney; Completion of an Associate degree (AS), which includes a minimum of 60-semester credit hours, with a minimum of 24 of those being in paralegal coursework; and at least five years of work experience as a paralegal under the direct supervision of an attorney attested to by the supervising attorney.

Salaries

In USD as of Mar 12, 2013 (source: indeed.com) 30k 60k 90k
Paralegal in Virginia $47,000
 

Spotlight School

Certified versus Certification

The Supreme Court of Virginia Building, adjace...

The Supreme Court of Virginia Building, adjacent to Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they should be understood as the distinctly different words they are. To become certificated means the hopeful paralegal has passed her program and earned her degree at the end. Certified comes from passing one of four national exams and fulfilling some prerequisites to sitting for that exam. There are three national associations who offer then tests:

NALA, or the National Association of Legal Assistants ; NFPA, or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations; and NALS, or the Association for Legal Professionals. The titles of Certified Paralegal or Certified Legal Assistant are a display a paraprofessional’s competence, skill and seriousness, and as such, are highly respected. Employers look quite favorably on those who are Certified and some will even reimburse for test costs. You will notice differences between what each exam expects of you as it pertains to education, background, and experience, as such, it is prudent to understand what the chart outlines as its prerequisites.

  • CLA/CP sponsored by NALA
  • PACE sponsored by NFPA
  • PCC also sponsored by NFPA
  • PP sponsored by NALS

Institutes of Learning

As you research schools to attend you’ll run across ABA approved and accredited in the descriptions. To ease confusion, ABA approval is towards a program or course. The American Bar Association, which is an association primarily for and of attorneys, also know what it takes to make a legal assistant that will become indispensable quickly. Pooling knowledge, the ABA rewards those courses that uphold their strict standards to produce the best prepared paralegals fresh out of school. Accreditation is when a private, national or regional authority rewards a school with special accolades concerning their course presentation and educational delivery. It is best to find a school with both accreditation and ABA approval; this ensures you absolutely have every box checked to make your employers and yourself happy. Virginia has four schools that are ABA approved:

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond is a public, 2-year school that offers an AAS (Associates of Applied Sciences) degree in paralegal studies. The course requires 67 semester hours and a mandatory internship for completion.

Marymount University in Arlington is a public, four-year school offering a Bachelor degree, Masters degree, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies.

National College (Roanoke Valley Campus) is a private two-year college extending an AAS in Paralegal Studies where internships are elective, though highly recommended.

Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria is a pubic, two-year school offering an AAS in Paralegal Studies or Paralegal Assisting where internships are elective but highly recommended. If a hopeful takes this program with only a High School diploma, then it will take 4 semesters to complete; otherwise the collage graduate will spend 2 semesters completing the program.

Associations

Quite a few paralegal or paraprofessional associations exist these days, all established for the purpose of increasing paralegal visibility and recognition, promoting public awareness of paralegal usefulness, building a sense of community, and ultimately to expand the understanding of this often misunderstood profession. Associations lend peer support, assist in job banks and networking, and often continue education with seminars and workshops taught by professionals in the field. Being part of one underlines the legal assistant’s seriousness about her career, looks good to employers, and the yearly fees will often be reimbursed by the employer.

Additional Important Links

Paralegal Schools in Virginia

Campus: Online

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice (BS) (Online)

Campus: Lynchburg, VA

Miller-Motte Technical College (MMTC) has a history of helping students succeed through hands-on education and career training. Our faculty and staff work to ensure that when you've completed your program, you're truly ready to begin your career.

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice - Associate of Occupational Science

Campus: Online

Since 1977, Keiser University has provided quality student-centered, career-focused education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions. Degrees are offered with a curriculum that is in pace with technology and workforce demand trends in business, criminal justice, health care, information technology and more. Our “one-class-at-a-time” approach allows busy students to focus on their education and balance the demands of work and family.

 

Why Keiser University Online?

   

Online Convenience, Personalized Attention

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice, MA (Online)

Campus: Online

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

We are committed to helping you achieve your goals and complete your degree as quickly as possible.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Juvenile Justice
  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Public Administration
  • Master of Science: Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science: Criminal Justice: Public Administration

Campus: Online

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education. Eligible students can receive college credit for prior military experience and coursework—up to 75 percent of the credit needed for a Kaplan University undergraduate degree.*

Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology 
  • Associate of Applied Science In Public Safety and Security 
  • BS in Corrections
  • Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services
  • AAS in Criminal Justice

Campus: Online

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University. Take classes online or on campus. Pursue your degree to help you start the career you want. Learn more now.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Making the decision to earn your degree and pursue your career goals could be the best decision you ever make. Enroll at ECPI University and you’ll join a collaborative and fostering learning environment, surrounded by faculty and staff who are there to support you through the entire process.


What sets ECPI University apart? Just ask the employers who hire our graduates. Since 1966, more than 3,800 employers have looked to ECPI for talented professionals who are capable of entering the workplace and doing the job right on the very first day. That’s because our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of today’s highly-specialized job market.

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor's
  • Homeland Security - Bachelor's

Campus: Online

Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose. Our 20,000 alumni, from more than 110 countries, are changing the world as accomplished professionals. Named a top-15 school nationally for online bachelor's programs (U.S. News & World Report, 2015), Regent is among the most affordable undergraduate Christian colleges (CCCU 2015). Fully accredited, challenging programs are available online and on campus. New classes begin every eight weeks.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Laws - American Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice