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WVNCC Paralegal Program Accredited

Posted 09/13/12

The Paralegal Studies program at West Virginia Northern Community College has earned a three-year accreditation by NALS, the association for legal professionals.

John Plesa, paralegal instructor and program director, explained the process leading to accreditation was lengthy and detailed. “The college had to provide a self-study report on development of the program which began in 2006,” he said.

The entire process took about three years, Plesa said, during which the NALS team recommended curriculum changes. Plesa, a Weirton resident who joined the college as an adjunct instructor, ultimately became the paralegal program director and spearheaded the accreditation effort.

“The NALS team conducted a two-day site visit on the Wheeling campus,” he added. During that visit, the team toured facilities and met with Plesa, college administrators, current and graduated paralegal students and the program’s advisory committee.

Northern’s Paralegal Studies program offers both a two-year associate in applied science degree and a one-year certificate in applied science. “In three years, the college will submit another report to NALS in anticipation of earning another three- or five-year reaccreditation based on the college following additional recommendations made during the site visit,” Plesa said.

Dr. Vicki Riley, vice president of academic affairs at the college, said, “We are very pleased our Paralegal Studies program has received this distinction. It testifies to the quality of instruction offered students.” In addition, Plesa pointed out that NALS is the organization that administers professional certification examinations for the AAS students in their second year of study.

For additional information about the paralegal program at Northern, contact Plesa at or at 304-214-8895. The NALS Board of Directors and the American Bar Association have adopted the following definition of legal assistant/paralegal: “A legal assistant/paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”