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Paralegal Studies

The Paralegal Studies program at NOVA is approved by the American Bar Association. After completing the program, you will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. The courses for this program are in the College Catalog.

Here is information about enrollment and admissions and tuition payment. As part of the enrollment and admissions process, you will furnish copies of your official transcripts to Student Services. A Counselor will let you know which of the courses taken at a previous college or university will transfer.

Generally, if you earned a bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited institution you will have all general education requirements satisfied, which means you would only need to take the legal specialty courses. Every semester, some courses are offered online, some in a traditional classroom setting, and others in a hybrid format. Courses that are taught in the hybrid format include both classroom meetings and significant online work.

To be eligible to receive an AAS degree in Paralegal Studies, you must complete 25 percent (17 credits) of your coursework at NOVA. In addition, ABA guidelines regulate the number of courses we accept through transfer. Therefore, at least 50 percent of the legal specialty courses must be completed at NOVA and 10 of those credits must be taken in the traditional classroom setting.

You must complete College Composition I (ENG 111) and Introduction to Law and the Paralegal (LGL 110) in the first semester. You may also take additional courses during the same semester.

It is important for students to follow the sequencing plan when taking legal specialty courses. For example, Legal Research is a prerequisite for Legal Writing; therefore, these courses may not be taken during the same semester. You should meet with an advisor at least once per semester.

The length of time it takes to complete the program depends upon your schedule and the time you have available to take classes. You must register for courses before 11:59 p.m. on the day before the session begins.

Paralegals are prohibited by law to offer legal services directly to members of the public.


National Association of Legal Assistants-Paralegals (NALA)

NALA is the leading paralegal association in the US. Its mission is to provide continuing education and professional development programs to all paralegals. NALA provides current information about the profession, continuing education materials, and seminars, networking opportunities, professional certification programs, occupational survey findings and manuals to help paralegals excel in the workplace. Professional certification is a time-honored process respected by both employers and those within the career field. Those who are admitted to the Certified Paralegal program and successfully complete the examination are awarded a “Certified Paralegal” certificate and may use the credential “CP.” For more information visit: www.nala.org.

National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)

Created as a non-profit federation, NFPA is an issues-driven, policy-oriented professional association directed by its membership. It is comprised of more than 50 member associations and represents over 9,000 individual members reflecting a broad range of experience, education and diversity. NFPA prides itself on the professionalism of its members and routinely monitors legislation, case law, proposed changes to the rules of responsibility and ethics opinions that affect the paralegal profession. NFPA offers two credentialing exams: the paralegal CORE Competency Exam and the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE). For more information visit: National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

Study materials for national paralegal exams are available in the Alexandria Campus library.

What is the difference between a paralegal certificate and certification?

A certificate verifies that a student has successfully completed a paralegal education program. A certified paralegal is an individual who has successfully completed a certification exam or other requirements of the certifying organization. Read MORE here.

What is a Paralegal?

The American Bar Association’s Definition of a Paralegal
A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

Job Prospects for Paralegals
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of paralegals is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. More than half of the graduates who responded to NOVA’s annual survey were working as a paralegal, working in another field, or continuing their education.

Paralegals are prohibited by law from offering legal services directly to members of the public.

Paralegal Ethics

An important characteristic of the legal profession is keeping confidences. This requirement applies to the lawyer and paralegal. Read MORE here.

NOVA’s Paralegal Studies curriculum covers a full range of ethical and professional responsibility concerns applicable to paralegals.