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Paralegal Certification for Military Members: NFPA, PEG, & JAG Join Forces

The Paralegal Education Group (PEG) is honored to a partner with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc., as one of the preferred vendors of online review programs for both the Paralegal CORE Competency (PCC) Exam and the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE).  Supporting paralegal certification has been a pillar of our mission from the very first day our company was founded.  There is nothing more rewarding then helping a paralegal advance his or her career through continuing education and certifications!

The Army Credentialing Program encourages military personnel on active duty to pursue professional development opportunities to help them not only in their military roles but also as civilians following their service to our country.  The Paralegal Education Group volunteered to provide scholarships allowing active personnel to participate in an online prep course for the PCC Exam.  The class, which ran over the course of seven weeks last fall, consisted of ten Soldiers. 

Developed by NFPA in 2011, the PCC Exam assesses the key core competencies to work as a paralegal among recent paralegal graduates or those within their first two years of practice. The exam is 2 ½ hours long and consists of 125 multiple choice questions focusing on two domains: (1) Paralegal Practice and (2) Substantive Law.  Those who successfully pass the exam are designated a CORE Registered Paralegal and are subsequently authorized to use the “CRP” initials following their name.  The PCC Exam is an ideal fit for military personnel seeking a paralegal certification credential while on active duty or, alternatively, nearing their discharge as they ready themselves for the transition to private legal practice. 

The PEG PCC Exam review course is an online program that gives paralegals the testing strategies and knowledge they need to succeed on the examination.  PEG’s founders, Michael Sullivan, Esq., and Joseph Zavaglia, Esq., designed the course to fit the exact needs of today’s busy paralegal student or practicing professional.  With over fifty years of paralegal training between them, the course materials are presented in ways that produce maximum effectiveness, which is reflected in our client passage rate on the exam of close to 90%. 

The PEG online review program is presented through a wide variety of instructional methods including a pre-course practice exam, detailed content outlines, video lectures, unit practice tests with detailed explanations, around-the-clock multiple faculty members for interactive and specialized support, a final exam, and an individual exit consultation with each student after each course.  The format of PEG’s certification review course is carefully constructed to avoid some of the common and significant problems that standard online learning platforms can create or, alternatively, inexperienced online instructors can sometimes make. 

First, the entire PEG learning platform focuses on ease of use and compatibility.  For many students, it might be the first time they’ve taken an online course or perhaps they aren’t as “tech savvy” as they’d like to be making the proposition of e-Learning extremely intimidating.  For others, they might require the flexibility of accessing the course materials from multiple devices.  The PEG website is fully mobile and tablet compatible making it ideal for the busy legal professional always on the run. 

“We invested heavily in mobile and tablet compatible programming because we knew it would be an absolute must for most PEG clients.  The website compatibility is one of the most favorably reviewed aspects of our courses per our clients.  Our goal from day one was optimal ease of use across the entire PEG platform.  Our website will go anywhere our clients go,” to Mr. Sullivan explained.  

Second, the course materials are organized and presented in a format that accommodates the hectic schedule of online learners today.  It’s often problematic to run online programs with excessive “synchronous” learning features (those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time.  Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour to participate).  An exam review program typically consists of students in multiple time zones and certainly on different schedules making it virtually impossible to create a viable online course with set-in-stone virtual meeting times. 

Highlighting this key need, Mr. Sullivan explained, “Our clients are busy professionals by day and have family and/or personal obligations in the evening.  We needed to create a course that would work around our student’s schedules, not force them to work around a set schedule that fits the professor’s needs.  Unfortunately, most online courses run on strict weekly agendas and if a student has a trial, pressing work assignment(s), illness, or a personal matter that inevitably pops up unexpectedly they will miss critical parts of a course and perhaps never catch up.  Even live study groups where the group is all from the same geographic area often suffer from this same problem where on week one there are ten paralegals in the group and by week six there are three.” 

Of the ten military students in the class, none of them came to the “table” with the same legal skills and competencies.  The strengths and weaknesses of each student were individual.  Another crucial feature of the review program is designing the program to work around the unique needs of each student.  Every review course student starts off with a general assessment exam, which allows the instructors to ascertain exactly what in areas each student has their strengths and weaknesses.   During our pilot program, the Soldiers took weekly practice tests so that faculty could provide individual weekly assessments and give individualized support.  The students could access their own virtual grade book each week as they progressed through the materials. 

With the pilot course, the military students were hundreds and perhaps even thousands of miles away.  Critical to any online course is preventing a student from feeling isolated from faculty or separated from interactions with fellow students.  Every step of the way in each review course, PEG faculty members and students are a simple click of a button away. 

Mr. Sullivan described, “We’ve received questions from students in courses from all over the world while they are commuting, vacationing, on a weekend while having coffee at a café, during a work lunch break, or even after they’ve listened to a lecture while working out.  We give our students unfettered 24/7 access to the instructors when they need it most without the need to wait days or even a week for the next scheduled learning session that a student in need of help may or may not be able to attend due to their busy schedules.  What’s more, our students had access to course specific discussion forums where they can start threads with fellow students and faculty about topics they are actively studying.”

Learning should be delivered effectively, be responsive to student needs, convenient, and affordable.  That’s why PEG was created and that’s what’s foremost for PEG every day.  We look forward to continuing to help paralegals and military personnel in their quest to advance their legal careers.  PEG appreciates NFPA giving us the opportunity to work with its members as well as participate in the Military Credentialing Program.  Most importantly, we thank all of those in the military for their sacrifice and heroic service to the Nation! 

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