Paralegal/Legal Assistant Schools in Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia is known as the heart of American democracy and American law. So, it should come as no surprise to find that there are a great many lawyers, and law offices, in the shadow of the Liberty Bell. Becoming an attorney is an expensive and academically challenging - not to mention long - process however that only the most dedicated want to undertake.
There is a path to working in the law in an involved way that does nor takes as long or cost as much; however, becoming a paralegal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Featured Paralegal Programs in Philadelphia, PA
What does a paralegal/legal assistant do?
A paralegal is a lot more than an administrative assistant, even though they are referred to as a legal assistant in some instances. A paralegal is a qualified specialist who supports lawyers in nearly every aspect of their law practice. Paralegals do not practice law directly - the law prevents them from doing so, but an ever-expanding role means they can come very close.
Why is the role expanding? As law firms and legal branches of governments and non-profits seek to streamline operations and cut costs an increasing number of tasks that may have once been handled by lawyers are now delegated to paralegals under their supervision. This makes for a challenging, but very satisfying legal career for an increasing number of people.
What is the entry level paralegal salary in Philadelphia?
According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the average annual pay for a paralegal bob in Philadelphia, PA is $53,480 a year. Entry level legal assistants earn between $30,000 and $32,000, which is still a good wage, and the highest paid, most experienced members of the paralegal profession can command annual salaries of $90,000 and up.
As any lawyer employing paralegals is held legally responsible for their actions it is understandable that most employers maintain a very selective recruiting process. Large corporate law firms in Philadelphia, as is the case almost everywhere else, usually require paralegal candidates to hold a minimum of an associate degree in paralegal studies. The same is true of government offices, although some smaller law firms do accept a certificate or diploma as an acceptable level of paralegal education.
Paralegal Schools in Philadelphia, PA
Lansdale School of Business
Lansdale School of Business is a private college offering a variety of business and vocational focused degrees from their campus just outside the Philadelphia city limits. For those interested in becoming a paralegal they offer a campus-based Associate in Specialized Business: Paralegal Degree.
The degree, which is usually completed in four semesters (or two years) is a comprehensive offering that covers the basics needed to work in a corporate and general law setting, as well as focused legal research instruction and an introduction to legal ethics and best practices.
It differs however from many other paralegal degree programs as accounting and human resource education elements are a mandatory part of the course, making this program best suited to those interested in paralegal management in a corporate setting.
Students over the age of 18 who hold a high school diploma and can meet minimum educational requirements can apply. For those who are accepted tuition is charged at a rate that matches a student's age, personal circumstances, and family size. On average, a single student living with parents can expect to pay $10,850 per academic year, a figure that does not includes books and supplies.
Most students fund their college education at Lansdale via federal financial and Pennsylvania's PHEEA grants. Those who do not qualify for this aid may still consider taking a private student loan from a lender such as Sallie Mae.
Peirce College is one of Philadelphia's older private colleges, having been founded in 1865. The school offers both associate and bachelor level Paralegal Degrees that are approved by the American Bar Association.
As is the norm, an associate degree can be completed in two years, or four semesters, and a bachelors in four years, or eight semesters. Admission for either program is competitive and is based on a careful review of a student's past academic performance, personal interview, references, and application essays.
The associate’s level courses cover both general education topics and specific legal instruction in general law office practices, legal writing, legal document preparation and legal research. Those who choose to complete their BA then receive additional training in legal practice and legal ethics and complete an internship with a Philadelphia based corporate law firm.
The cost of completing a paralegal program at Peirce is charged on a per-credit basis, with the per credit cost for in state students set at $600. If they qualify, students can make use of federal FAFSA based aid and the PHEEA grant program to help pay for school or choose to seek a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae.
Delaware County Community College
Delaware County Community College is a newer school offering affordable education to residents of Delaware and Chester counties. They offer two courses of study for aspiring paralegals; an AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies or a post-baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal Studies to those who already hold a bachelor level degree in a different discipline.
The AAS degree, which is the starting point for most students, is approved by the American Bar Association and takes four semesters of campus-based study to complete. Unlike many community colleges Delaware now offers evening and weekend classes, which may make this course easier for working adults to complete.
The degree program itself offers a comprehensive overview of general law, law office practices, legal ethics, and legal research. Students are required to complete an internship prior to graduation with a local employer, which may be one of the larger Philadelphia corporate law firms.
Admission to the AAS program is competitive and based on a review of a student's prior academic background. Priority for admission is also given to those residing in Delaware and Chester counties.
For those who are admitted the cost of tuition is charged on a per-semester basis and is determined as a part of the admissions process. The lowest rates are charged to in district students. Most students pay for school using federal financial aid and state based PHEEA grants.
Located just outside Philadelphia, Manor College is a private, for profit school that grants both Associate’s and bachelor's degrees. They offer both a two-year AAS and a shorter post-baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal Studies.
The AAS program is where most students begin the educational path to becoming a paralegal, and it is a comprehensive, ABA approved four semester campus-based offering. Students are prepped in all aspects of a paralegal's everyday tasks in a general law office environment as well as given extensive training on LexisNexis and in legal research in general. Students must also complete an internship with a local employer as a requirement of graduation.
Costs of attending Manor College, and the Paralegal programs specifically vary according to student situation. These are calculated as a part of a competitive admissions process that considers high school grades and SAT scores as well as personal interviews. If they qualify students usually make use of both federal financial aid and the PHEEA grant program to cover the costs of their schooling.
Community College of Philadelphia
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, CC of Philadelphia offers a wide range of diplomas and associate degree programs at an affordable cost to city residents over the age of 18 who have graduated from high school and are seeking a vocationally focused degree.
The AAS in Paralegal Studies degree offered at the school is an American Bar Association approved four semester (two year) 60 credit program that offers a solid foundational education in the basics of general law and law office practices as well as education and practical experience in public service law.
Around 70% of the program can be completed online, although an in-person internship is mandatory for graduation. Students are also required to attend a set number of daytime virtual lectures is they choose online study so must be available at those times.
The lowest tuition rates for the program, admission for which is based on academic record and personal interview, are charged to city residents. The fees for school year break down as follows:
1. Philadelphia residents: $159 per credit hour.
2. Other Pennsylvanians: $318 per credit hour & $10 nonresident capital fee per credit.
3. Non-Pennsylvanians: $477 per credit hour & $20 nonresident capital fee per credit.
Those who qualify can make use of FAFSA based aid and the PHEEA grant program to pay for school or opt to take a private student loan instead.