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How Important is ABA Approval for Paralegal Programs?

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No paralegal organization, law firm, or state bar will deny that ABA-approved programs carry with them higher degrees of legitimacy and even prestige, and most charge significantly higher tuition.

How do would-be paralegals decide which kind of program is right for them? According to many professionals in the field, the choice is entirely personal. The right option will depend on the individual's financial position, geographical location, and specific career goals.

"If your goal is to work in a top law firm in a metropolitan area or in a Fortune 500 company, hiring requirements may eliminate graduates of non-ABA approved schools from being considered," writes Lana Clark in a recent Legal Assistant Today article.

Especially in cases where a company is considering candidates from ABA-approved and non-ABA-approved programs, job seekers need to have the best credentials possible to obtain the best positions.

Depending on the overall quality of the program, a non-ABA-approved program may still be a good choice, as many programs meet the ABA's requirements but choose not to apply for approval.

Duke University is a good example of this situation. In surveys, studies, and reports, this university is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the United States; yet its paralegal program has not been approved by the ABA.

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