A number of different colleges and trade schools offer paralegal programs that prepare students to assist lawyers and attorneys in managing legal cases. While some of these are held in a traditional classroom format, others are offered through distance learning methods online or through video teleconferencing. Of course the cost of attending these programs can be high, which is why many students want to know about free paralegal distance learning programs.
Colleges and universities don’t offer free paralegal distance education programs, since they must recover their expenses in offering the class. Some private businesses offer free classes and programs, but these are often one-time classes that simply provide training in a specific area related to the paralegal position. For example, LexisNexis offers a free class for paralegals, but it simply teaches them how to better use the LexisNexis software to perform legal research. Instead of seeking out a program that is automatically free, students often have more success finding ways to make a fee-based distance education paralegal program free.
Distance Learning Programs
The American Bar Association maintains a listing of paralegal programs in the U.S. on its website. Students can determine what programs offer distance learning education through the brief summaries listed under each program. Once a student has found a paralegal distance learning program that works for his schedule and needs, he can begin concentrating on how to make it free.
Scholarships and grants are two types of financial aid that can cover the cost of a paralegal distance education program. A number of national and local foundations and nonprofit organizations provide scholarships specifically for paralegals. Examples include the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, the Dallas Area Paralegal Association, the North Carolina Bar Association and the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of New Mexico.
In addition, federal and state governments provide grants to students which don’t have to be repaid. These grants can be given for academic performance, financial needs or academic major. Students can check with the financial aid office at their school to determine if they qualify for any grants that could make their paralegal program free.
Funds for education and training in a new career are available in states through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The funding is granted to individuals who enroll in a short-term training program that prepares them to enter the workforce. With most paralegal programs lasting two years or less, they qualify for WIA funding.
Visitors to the website of the Georgia Department of Labor can see an example of paralegal programs approved for training, including one that offers the program via distance learning. To find out whether their state has funding for paralegal programs, students can contact their local workforce authority or their state’s department of labor or commerce.
A paralegal distance education program can be free for students who are sponsored by a law firm or legal department within an organization. Some students acquire funding for paralegal studies after serving as a receptionist or intern for the law firm, while others have an association or affiliation with the organization that helps them secure the funding.
Allison Dodge has been a writer since 2005, specializing in education, careers, health and travel. She has worked at educational institutions for more than 10 years. Dodge has a master's degree in education administration.