Whether you are paralegal student, a recent graduate in paralegal studies, or a seasoned paralegal professional, you need to be a member of at least one of the several Professional Associations for Paralegals.
Benefits of Professional Associations for Paralegals
Regardless of your level of expertise within the paralegal field, you can find a professional association that can help you to meet your goals.
- For prospective paralegal students: Professional associations will give you valuable information about the paralegal field. They may also be able to steer you toward financial aid and scholarship programs that will help you to complete your training.
- For new paralegals: Professional associations can give you career advice. They may help you to find professional networking opportunities and lead you to particular job boards where you may find the right job opportunities.
- For seasoned professional paralegals: Professional associations can offer you career development and networking opportunities that can help you to succeed in your career.
How Professional Associations for Paralegals were Formed
The paralegal profession in the United States began in the 1960s and 1970s as attorneys began hiring assistant to help them in their jobs. The American Bar Association took notice of this new profession—then called “legal assistants”—and formed the Standing Committee on Legal Assistants.
The Standing Committee on Legal Assistants
Formed in the late 1960s, the Standing Committee on Legal Assistants worked, and continues to work, on behalf of the paralegal professional. They have helped to define the roles of paralegals within the profession and have set ethical guideline for both paralegals and attorneys to follow.
The Standing Committee’s website has a wealth of educational and career advice for paralegals.
In addition to the Standing Committee on Legal Assistants, there are several other professional organizations for paralegals that you should know about.
Major Professional Associations for Paralegals
Here are some of the larger professional associations for paralegals. Many of these organizations have local branches that should be close to your geographical area.
1. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
The NALA is one of the largest associations for paralegals. It stays abreast of the expanding paralegal career field and can provide you up-to-date information on various changes within the field. It also offers a lot of information on paralegal careers and on further educational opportunities.
NALA also offers certification opportunities for paralegals.
2. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
Established in 1974, the NFPA has over 11,000 members. The NFPA has always worked to define the job duties of paralegals and to set ethical guidelines for law firms that employ paralegals.
This association also administers the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) to those paralegals who seek certification.
3. The American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI)
The AAPI is a fairly new professional association for paralegals—established in 2003—but it quickly started setting standards for the paralegal profession. AAPI has worked to set uniform educational standards for paralegals and use their vast resources to create networking opportunities and informative resources for paralegals.
AAPI also offers a certification program for paralegals.
To find out more information about these agencies, please visit their websites or see if you can find a local branch to visit. Cultivating some, or all, of these professional organizations for paralegals can reap big career dividends for you.