Maine is an unfortunate state to be in for those who are interested in becoming paralegals. That is because the state does not have any paralegal studies programs that are approved by the American Bar Association. This—approval from the ABA—is vital to being able to work in the field. You are not completely without options though; there are a couple of different things that you can do to end up with the career that you want. It’s just a matter of deciding which one is the best choice for you and your career goals.
You can earn a degree from an unapproved institution if you wish. However, you will have to, at some point before you start working, also earn a certificate. This certificate will act as a supplement to your degree. However, the certificate needs to come from an accredited and approved institution, so many people feel that this option is just delaying the inevitable and creating more work for the student. You will still, at some point, have to find an approved school. It’s really just a decision of whether you do that now or later on down the road. For some people, however, this option truly is the best choice.
The majority of Maine residents simply choose to earn their degree or certification from an online school. Be aware, though, that there are a lot of scams in the online world, and you need to be very careful and selective to avoid getting sucked in by one. Always do thorough research on any online school you are considering attending, and never just take any claims it makes at face value. If an online school, for example, tells you that it is accredited by the American Bar Association, check with the American Bar Association yourself to be sure.
One final choice that you have is to earn your degree in a nearby state, such as Connecticut or Massachusetts. This is a very expensive option, though, as attending out of state schools is much more costly than attending in state schools. In addition to the increased tuition costs, you will also have to pay relocation or commuting fees, depending on how you make your education work. If you’re willing to live in the other state for a set period of time before enrolling in school, you can obtain residency, but this will mean delaying your degree.
Connecticut options include Manchester Community College and Norwalk Community Technical College, which are very affordable but will still charge out of state tuition fees. There’s also Quinnipiac University in Hamden, the University of Hartford in West Hartford, and the University of New Haven in West Haven. As for Massachusetts schools, there’s Bay Path College in Longmeadow, Elms College in Chicopee, Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence, North Shore Community College in Danvers, and Suffolk University in Boston. Some of these schools do offer online programs as well, so that may be a good option for you to consider.