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Virginia Paralegal Schools

In 2014, the state of Virginia employed 8,580 paralegals, with most of those situated in the Richmond and Virginia Beach metropolitan areas.1 A wealth of federal and state government agencies require the services of paralegals to ensure the legality of contracts and policies. Virginia paralegal schools offer specialized training for aspirants to earn a paralegal degree and enter positions at these agencies, and Virginia law firms of all sizes also have openings in this field, one of the fastest growing in the United States until 2022.

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How to Become a Paralegal in Virginia

As in most other states, paralegals in Virginia are required by law to work under the supervision of a licensed lawyer, and are not permitted to give legal advice to the general public. While the state does not have any specific requirements to practice as a paralegal, the Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations does recommend some guidelines for employers regarding hiring paralegals, which include completing an ABA-approved paralegal program before being hired.2

Virginia Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

Virginia paralegals earn higher than average salaries for the profession, of $52,370 in 2014, with the highest salaries in the northern part of the state, near Washington DC.1 With a relatively low unemployment rate (the 17th lowest in the country), Virginia is projected to see a 19.3% growth in the paralegal and legal assistant field through 2022, higher than the national average projected growth.3,4 Paralegal aspirants can find a number of government openings throughout the state, especially near Washington, D.C. and Hampton Roads. With high salaries and good employment prospects, Virginia is a good place for prospective paralegals to get a paralegal degree and start their careers.

ABA-Approved Paralegal Schools in Virginia

There are several Virginia paralegal schools that have an American Bar Association certification. They include:

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Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Virginia

Marymount University: Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia offers an American Bar Association-approved Master of Arts in Legal Administration, a Graduate certificate in paralegal studies, and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a specialty in business law. The undergraduate certificate is 30 credit hours, the BA is the standard four years, and the MA is 36 credit hours. Masters students must choose between two tracks: Legal Specialty Training and Paralegals Moving into Paralegal Administration. Individuals enrolled in the Graduate certificate program are required to complete 24 hours of pro bono legal work for an approved community organization such as the Florian Foundation or Catholic Charities.

Northern Virginia Community College: An American Bar Association-approved Associate of Applied Science in paralegal studies is available at the Northern Virginia Community College. This 65-hour course of study takes two years to complete and 33 hours are dedicated to major courses. Fundamental paralegal studies courses include Introduction to Law and the Legal Assistant, Family Law, Legal Research, and Legal Writing. The internship course is an elective, but few students forgo the opportunity to obtain hands-on law office experience.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Virginia

Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, P.C., also called The Allen Law Firm, has eight offices across the state of Virginia. A personal injury law firm, The Allen Law Firm has been recognized by US News as a top tier firm, and has also been ranked as one of the best places to work in Virginia. The firm has an excellent reputation and provides competitive salaries and benefits to its staff. Albo & Oblon, LLP has five offices in Virginia, from which it provides a full spectrum of legal representation to businesses and individuals. The firm is looking to expand its practice areas, and as a continually growing firm regularly recruits for paralegals. Woods Rogers PLC is one of the largest law firms in Virginia west of Richmond, and specializes in business and litigation. Woods Rogers offers paralegals the opportunity to work in a sophisticated office in a local environment that contributes to a high quality of life.

Online and Virginia Paralegal Schools

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Paralegal Schools and Programs in Virginia

Bryant & Stratton College (Richmond, VA; Virginia Beach, VA)
Associate of Science | Paralegal

Centura College (Chesapeake, VA; Richmond, VA; Virginia Beach, VA)
Associate Degree | Paralegal Law
Associate Degree | Paralegal Law (online program)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Law (online program)

Hampton University (Hampton, VA)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies (online program)

ITT Technical Institute (Chantilly, VA; Norfolk, VA; Richmond, VA; Springfield, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Marymount University (Arlington, VA)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Mountain Empire Community College (Big Stone Gap, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

New River Community College (Dublin, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Administrative Support
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Northern Virginia Community College (Annandale, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Thomas Nelson Community College (Hampton, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Tidewater Community College (Norfolk, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | General Practice Paralegal
Associate of Applied Science | Litigation Paralegal

University of Richmond (Richmond, VA)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

Virginia Intermont College (Bristol, VA)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies

Virginia Western Community College (Roanoke, VA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Additional Resources:

Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations – VAPA was established in 1989 and represents over 1,500 paralegals and students of the profession in the state of Virginia.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
2. Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations: http://www.vaparalegalalliance.org/about/educational-standards/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
4. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm