Paralegal refresher training may go by a variety of names, including continuing legal education, lifelong learning, continuing paralegal education, extended learning or professional development. By any name, paralegal refresher training is a valuable career development tool for a number of reasons. Subject matter varies from basic legal terminology to advanced evidence and beyond.

Purposes

For a paralegal who has been out of the workforce or working in another field for an extended period, a refresher course may provide the confidence and skills needed to reenter the profession. A refresher course may also be a wise investment prior to taking a state or national paralegal certification examination. Changing practice areas either with a current or a new employer may also involve paralegal refresher training.

Delivery Methods

One delivery method for paralegal refresher training is live, in-person courses. Other live delivery methods are Web seminars, also called webinars, and telephone conferences, also called teleconferences. Another delivery method for paralegal refresher training is Web-based self-study. In this method, instruction may be similar to a slide presentation with text, an audio recording and tests to verify comprehension of the material. Other self-study methods include downloads or compact discs containing audio files and handouts from previous live presentations.

Providers

Providers of paralegal refresher training include professional associations, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the North Carolina Paralegal Association. Providers also include colleges or universities offering lifelong learning or professional development, such as the Capital University Law School and the Front Range Community College. In addition, for-profit institutes, such as the Institute for Paralegal Education and the American Institute for Paralegal Studies, provide paralegal refresher training.

Subject Matter

Subject matter of paralegal refresher training varies widely. If a paralegal’s goal is to take and pass a certification examination to attain a professional designation, such as the NALA Certified Paralegal designation or the North Carolina Certified Paralegal designation, a review course for that specific exam is best. If the goal is to become comfortable in a new practice area, such as immigration, intellectual property or workers’ compensation, take those courses. A general, all-around refresher course may be wise if a former paralegal is returning to the career field after an extended hiatus.

Benefits

Benefits of paralegal refresher training include greater confidence and an increased likelihood of success on a professional certification examination. Benefits also include earning required continuing paralegal education to maintain a professional certification designation or a professional association membership. Other benefits may include being able to obtain a new job or transfer to a different practice area with a current employer. Live, in-person paralegal refresher training also provides valuable professional networking opportunities.

Cautions

Paralegal refresher training should not be taken instead of formal paralegal education or training. In fact, for some paralegal refresher training, a paralegal degree or certificate is a prerequisite. Further, professional certification examinations usually require a formal paralegal education as well.