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History of AAfPE

Established in 1981, AAfPE’s roots go back to the mid 1970s when the American Bar Association sponsored the first conferences for paralegal educators. While much has been accomplished in the field of paralegal education from this beginning, there is still much more to be done to fully develop the potential for both the paralegal field and education for the profession.

Mission Statement

Recognizing the need to increase and improve access to the legal system, AAfPE promotes quality paralegal education, develops educational standards and encourages professional growth, in order to prepare graduates to perform a significant role in the delivery of legal services. - June 9, 2001

The goals that AAfPE strives to accomplish:

  • Promote high standards for paralegal education
  • Provide a forum for professional improvement for paralegal educators
  • Plan, promote and hold annual conferences and seminars
  • Provide technical assistance and consultation services to institutions, educators and employers
    Promote research and disseminate information on the paralegal profession
  • Cooperate with the American Bar Association and other institutions and professional associations in developing an approval process for paralegal education programs 
  • Promote the goals of the Association through cooperation with other national, regional and local groups and organizations interested in paralegal education

These goals are consistently met through the action of AAfPE's members and the organization’s Board of Directors.

Establishing standards by which to measure paralegal education has been one of the central focus points of AAfPE. The Association recognizes the diverse nature of paralegal education and has developed a set of core competencies to complement this diversity. AAfPE also recognizes that a common core of legal knowledge must be coupled with critical thinking, as well as organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills in order for one to be a successful paralegal. Further, paralegal programs should provide an integrated set of core courses that develop these competencies. The development of Model Syllabi in courses typically taught in paralegal programs is an on-going project as well as the creation of Model Employer and Graduate Surveys. Through AAfPE's continued emphasis on high standards, rather than standardization, to shape paralegal education, excellent programs are available throughout the country that offer the diversity necessary to meet the specific needs of the legal community serviced by each program.

AAfPE has an impressive history. More important than what it has done, however, is what it is doing currently in this rapidly changing paralegal profession. AAfPE membership includes some of the most respected educators and leaders in the field of paralegal education. As such, AAfPE is the recognized source for standards in paralegal education and the continuing development of quality teaching.

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