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Florida Paralegal Schools

Florida has the second-highest employment level in the United States for paralegals, employing over 24,000 paralegals.1 The state also has one of the highest concentrations of paralegals per capita in the US.1 For these reasons it makes good sense for an aspiring paralegal to consider enrolling in a paralegal degree or certification program, although there are no mandated certificates required by the state of Florida to practice as a paralegal. There have been attempts by the Florida legislature to regulate this profession, but as of yet, they have been rejected. Nonetheless, it is good to be prepared in the event that regulation does pass, and educational requirements are implemented.

Florida paralegal schools offer students a variety of ways to receive a degree or certificate. A person can enter into a two-year or four-year program with no prior educational or occupational experience, or enroll in a certificate program if the person has already completed some education or has work experience. There are online or traditional options for obtaining an education as a Florida paralegal. Several of the programs are also recognized by the American Bar Association, and can provide students with a financially rewarding career in as few as two years. Earning a paralegal degree can help you qualify to work in this growing field.

How to Become a Paralegal in Florida

There are currently no requirements to become a paralegal in Florida, but there is a certificate that can be obtained through the Paralegal Association of Florida. A candidate for this certificate must provide proof of certain educational requirements or a significant amount of work experience. This certificate is part of a voluntary program. The required education for this certificate will depend on the amount of experience possessed by a candidate. Those new to the workforce will need a more extensive educational background, such as a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

A paralegal in Florida is defined as an individual who has the proper education, experience, or training, who works under the direct supervision of a member of the Florida Bar Association. This person works on specific work of legal matters that are designated by the member of the Florida Bar Association. Paralegals in Florida may not dispense legal advice.

Florida Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

In general, the legal services sector is a growing industry. This industry is expected to grow 17% by 2022, which is faster than average.1 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida’s professional and business services industry, which includes legal services, saw a growth of 3.1% from 2012 to 2013.2 This is close to the national average of 3.5%.2 The unemployment rate in Florida, as of February 2015, was 5.6%, ranking the state 29th out of 51 (including D.C.).3

The average annual salary for a paralegal in Florida as of 2014 was $48,690, and a well-qualified paralegal has the potential to earn much more than this.1

Paralegal Quote “There is definitely a demand for experienced paralegals who are bilingual (sometimes). The big deal is experience and then if you have a Certified paralegal (CP) or RP or FRP designation as well – that ups your chances and salary range.” -Karen R. George, President of the South Florida Paralegal Association

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Florida

South University, West Palm Beach: South University has one of its campus located in West Palm Beach, Florida, where students can take courses towards earning an Associate of Science in paralegal studies. This program is approved by the American Bar Association and involves foundation paralegal courses as well as a supervised externship to enable students to gain valuable professional experience. An Associate of Science in paralegal studies at South University is a 92-hour program with 52 hours dedicated to major courses. This program typically takes three years to complete, but can be finished within an accelerated amount of time if students enroll in summer courses.

Florida State College at Jacksonville: Students at the Florida State College at Jacksonville can pursue an American Bar Association-approved Associate of Science in paralegal studies (legal assisting). This two-year degree consists of 64 total credit hours with 31 hours geared towards paralegal studies courses and 15 hours reserved for professional core and elective courses. Students who wish to gain practical experience through an internship must spend no less than 180 hours in a legal office approved by supervising faculty. Florida State College at Jacksonville has an exceptionally extensive law-related elective course inventory, allowing paralegal students to pursue the specializations of their choice.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Florida

Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. has been ranked within the top 25 law firms in Florida by Florida Trend, and has also been recognized as a top firm by the South Florida Legal Guide. Its comprehensive practice area list covers client needs in all areas of law. QPWB hires qualified candidates who want to work in a fast-paced environment in any of its offices. Fowler White Boggs is a highly ranked Florida law firm, seeing its attorneys and practice regularly included in The Best Lawyers in America and Chambers. Staff at Fowler White Boggs enjoy support for family commitments and wellness, a diverse workplace that supports community involvement, and a team oriented workplace. Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. is consistently ranked by the Wall Street Journal, The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, and others as one of the top law firms in Florida. The firm needs dedicated paralegal graduates to support the work of its attorneys in multiple practice areas.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in Florida

An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Broward College (Pembroke Pines)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting)

City College (Casselberry; Gainesville)
Associate of Science | Legal Assisting/Paralegal

College of Central Florida, Ocala Campus (Ocala)
Associate of Science | Paralegal

Daytona State College (Daytona Beach)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

Eastern Florida State College (Cocoa)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Legal Office Specialist

Florida SouthWestern State College (Fort Myers)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

Florida State College at Jacksonville (Jacksonville)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Advanced Technical Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Gulf Coast State College (Panama City)
Associate of Science | Legal Assisting/Paralegal

Hillsborough Community College (Ybor)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting)
Advanced Technical Certificate | Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting)

Hodges University (Naples)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies (online)
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies: Real Estate Law Concentration
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies: Bankruptcy Concentration
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies: Family Law Concentration
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies: Litigation Concentration
Master of Legal Studies | General Legal Studies Track
Master of Legal Studies | General Legal Studies Track (online)
Master of Legal Studies | Conflict Resolution Track
Master of Legal Studies | Conflict Resolution Track (online)
Certificate | eDiscovery/eLitigation (online)
Certificate | eDiscovery/eLitigation Accelerated Program (online)

Indian River State College (Fort Pierce)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

Miami Dade College (Miami)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale)*
Master of Science | Conflict Analysis & Resolution
Master of Science | Conflict Analysis & Resolution (online)
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Minor | Paralegal Studies
Minor | International Law
Minor | Legal Studies
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Advanced Conflict Resolution Practice
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Advanced Conflict Resolution Practice (online)

Palm Beach State College (Lake Worth)
Associate of Science | Paralegal

Pasco-Hernando Community College (New Port Richey)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) (online)

Pensacola State College (Pensacola)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting)
Associate of Arts | Pre-Law/Pre-Legal Administration

Seminole State College of Florida (Sanford)*
Associate of Science | Legal Assistant/Paralegal

Sheridan Technical College (Hollywood)
Certificate | Court Reporting (online)
Certificate | Legal Administrative Specialist (online)

South University – West Palm Beach (Palm Beach)*
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Associate of Science | Legal Studies

St. Petersburg College (Clearwater)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal Studies

State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota (Bradenton)
Associate of Science | Paralegal/Legal Assisting
Advanced Technical Certificate | Paralegal/Legal Assisting
Associate of Arts | Paralegal/Legal Assisting

Valencia College (Orlando)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)

Additional Resources

  • Florida Paralegal Association – Provides educational and networking opportunities, professional certification, and community outreach.
  • The Florida Bar – Serves as an in-depth resource for members and the public regarding Florida Bar services and programs.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
2. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm