The Importance of Continuing Legal Education

Paralegals are required to maintain a certain number of hours of continuing legal education ("CLE") in order to comply with state regulations and/or requirements based on advanced paralegal certification through a national organization, such as NALA or NFPA. If a paralegal fails to maintain the required CLE hours, that paralegal is no longer in good standing and cannot be identified as a paralegal or work in that capacity. However, the legal profession is not the only profession that requires continuing education. Across the board, almost every career that requires a higher level of education, training, and experience will call for continuing education that is consistent with the level of knowledge required for that career.

Clearly, for the individual, the main motivating drive to participate in continuing education is to comply with the legal requirements of the profession in order to remain in good standing and maintain your employment. However, there are other very important reasons to participate in continuing education in any field.

Protection of the public is one cornerstone for most professional continuing education programs. Just as an attorney is required to maintain MCLE credit, the supervising attorney of a paralegal is responsible to protect the public by ensuring that the paralegal demonstrates command of the area of practice that the attorney provides to the public. Public protection is not assured simply because an individual completed the education, training, and experience required to become a paralegal, or advanced paralegal. The ever changing legal system, rules, and technology demands that a paralegal continually learn and improve their knowledge and skills throughout their professional career.

Personal growth is another very important aspect of participating in continuing legal education. By failing to keep abreast of the current legal issues and trends, the paralegal falls into the trap of becoming stagnant and repetitive. On the other side of this coin, participation in a wide range of continuing education topics will broaden the paralegal's understanding of different legal concepts, technology, and methods that otherwise may be missed.

Continuing education is an investment in a paralegal's future. It is important to never stop striving to achieve the pinnacle of your career. If you are a paralegal, take the next step by earning an advanced paralegal certification. Studies show that:

~ A person with a higher education and career level has a higher earning capacity.
~ A person who has a higher education and advanced certification will be selected for employment over those who do not.
~ A person who is continually learning new things about their chosen career is a more valuable employee to an employer, and more likely to have more job security.
~ A person who is continually learning has a higher level of responsibility and job satisfaction.
~ A person who remains dormant in their learning will in time lose their skills and fall behind in their career.
~ A person who is continually learning remains competitive in the job market.

Therefore, invest in your career by updating your knowledge and skills that will improve your professional competence and value to your employer. It is the key to optimizing your professional growth throughout your professional life.