How to Become a Paralegal in Colorado
If you become a paralegal in Colorado, you can take advantage of a growing job market, expected to increase by 15 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than average for all occupations. A paralegal helps lawyers by conducting research, investigating facts and preparing and analyzing legal documents. Paralegals also interact with clients, interview witnesses, file court papers and prepare exhibits. While they have professional skills, paralegals cannot represent clients in court or give legal advice. A paralegal in Colorado must work under the supervision of an attorney licensed to practice in the state.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If a career as a paralegal in Colorado interests you, here are the steps to take:
Research the paralegal profession.
Make sure you understand the typical challenges and opportunities that paralegals encounter before you consider moving forward with an educational program.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Local chapters of professional organizations like the Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association (RMPA) can help you get first-hand advice.
Select an educational program.
A post-secondary education that focuses on the study of the legal system shows employers you’re serious about a paralegal career and willing to work for success
Get involved in the field.
Find an entry-level position or internship at a law office to gain experience. You also can develop skills by volunteering with pro bono organizations such as Colorado Legal Services.
Research job opportunities.
Consider different jobs since duties vary by employer. With so many jobs in Colorado, and significant growth expected, you may have more than one option to consider.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Colorado
Paralegals in Colorado do not have a minimum education requirement. However, most employers prefer a formal education that emphasizes the legal system so paralegals are prepared for their responsibilities. Options for paralegal education in Colorado include:
- Two-year associate’s degrees in Paralegal Studies at community colleges, colleges and universities
- Four-year bachelor’s degrees in Legal Studies at colleges and universities
- Post-Degree Certificates in Paralegal Studies at colleges and universities
- Voluntary national certifications for experienced paralegals:
- Professional Paralegal (PP) certification from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)
- Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Registered Paralegal (RP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) from NFPA
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) from NALA for CP paralegals who master specific courses administered by NALA
- Other educational options in Colorado, including master’s degrees in paralegal studies, are available via national online educators.
Paralegal Salary in Colorado
The mean annual wage for paralegals in Colorado is $54,240, with paralegals working in Denver earning $55,600 annually.
Approximately 5,750 paralegals work in Colorado. Most paralegals work in law firms, but there also are jobs in government agencies and large businesses.
As a paralegal in Colorado, you’ll have to maintain national certifications with continuing education requirements. You can meet these goals with programs sponsored by Colorado-based paralegal organizations. These groups also offer opportunities for mentoring, professional development, certification preparation and community service in the state:
- Colorado Association of Professional Paralegals and Legal Assistants (CAPPLA), an affiliate of National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association (RMPA), a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Colorado Bar Association Paralegal Committee
- Colorado Freelance Paralegal Network (CFPN)
- Pikes Peak Paralegals, an affiliate of NALA
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