Overview of the Approval Process
The Standing Committee on Paralegals and its Approval Commission are committed to providing the information and resources needed by programs to understand and comply with the Guidelines and to guide them through the approval process. ABA staff will respond to all approval process questions. They will also refer complex questions to the educational consultants.
- The process begins when a paralegal education program determines that it will seek ABA approval. The program must assess its readiness to apply for approval.
- After assessing its readiness to apply for approval, the program submits the self-evaluation report and exhibits to the Standing Committee on Paralegals (321 N. Clark Street, MS 19.1, Chicago, IL 60654-7598).
- The Approval Process Manager and one of the educational consultants review the reports and exhibits. If additional information is needed, the staff will provide a detailed explanation to the program director.
- An on-site evaluation of the program and institution is scheduled. The initial on-site visit is conducted over a one-two day period by a team composed of a representative of the Standing Committee or Approval Commission, an experienced paralegal, and the director of an ABA approved paralegal education program.
- The reports of the site visit teams are submitted to the Approval Commission for review and action. The Approval Commission's recommendations are then submitted to the Standing Committee on Paralegals for further review. If the program is deemed to comply with the Guidelines, the Standing Committee will submit its recommendations to the ABA's policy-making body, the House of Delegates, for final action on approval.
Once a program is approved, it is required to submit interim reports as required by the Guidelines to ensure that it continues to comply with the Guidelines. Annual fees are paid during the term of approval by all ABA approved programs. Before the end of its seven-year approval period, the institution must submit an application for reapproval if it wishes the program to retain its approved status.
Programs are recommended to the House of Delegates for approval and reapproval twice a year, at the annual and midyear meetings. A list of all ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs is available through the Approved Programs section of the website.