How to Become a Paralegal in Connecticut
If you become a paralegal in Connecticut, you’ll have many career options to choose from since the state has one of the highest concentrations of paralegal jobs in the country. Paralegals assist lawyers in coordinating and preparing the documentation, research and communication necessary for legal proceedings. A paralegal may interact with clients, interview witnesses, conduct research and file court papers. While paralegals have some responsibilities similar to lawyers, they are not allowed to represent clients in court or dispense legal advice. A paralegal in Connecticut must work under the direction of a licensed lawyer.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If a career as a paralegal in Connecticut interests you, here’s what you’ll need to do:
Research the paralegal profession.
Find out what paralegals do and whether the job offers the challenges and opportunities you’re looking for.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Contact groups like the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association (CCPA) or New Haven County Association of Paralegals (NHCAP) to get a first-hand perspective of what’s it’s like to work as a paralegal.
Select an educational program.
With a post-secondary education in paralegal studies, you’ll gain the skills and experience you’ll need to compete for some of the best paralegal jobs in the state.
Get involved in the field.
You can gain experience by working in entry-level administrative jobs or internships in law firms even while you’re still in school. Volunteering with organizations such as Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut can help you stand out from other job applicants.
Research job opportunities.
Investigate a variety of employers. Most paralegals work in law firms, but there are many jobs in large businesses and government agencies. You may find a position in an area of specialized law that matches your interests.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Connecticut
There is no minimum educational requirement to become a paralegal in Connecticut. However, an educational background in paralegal studies can show employers you’re prepared to make a valuable contribution from the start. Options for paralegal education in Connecticut include online and on-campus programs for:
- Basic paralegal certificates at community colleges, colleges and universities
- Two-year associate 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 Connecticut, including master’s degrees in paralegal studies, are available from national online educators.
Paralegal Licensure in Connecticut
There is no requirement for licensure to work as a paralegal in Connecticut as the profession is not regulated, but you may find the best opportunities for employment by attending an accredited education program and earning a degree or certificate..
Paralegal Salary in Connecticut
The mean annual wage for paralegals in Connecticut is $56,840.
Considering the median annual salary for paralegals nationally is $49,500, you can see Connecticut pays its paralegals well. Salaries may also be based upon education level earned, years of experience working in the field and location.
Career Opportunities in Connecticut
There are approximately 4,920 paralegals employed in Connecticut, and considering the size of the state this is a large number. Some of the opportunity may stem from the state’s relative proximity to Washington, DC. Certain areas have significant opportunities
- The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area ranks ninth among U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of paralegal jobs. About half the paralegals in the state work in the Hartford area.
- Connecticut is the fourth largest employer of paralegals.
As a paralegal working in Connecticut, you’ll benefit from joining national and regional paralegal organizations. Membership in these groups will keep you informed of changes and trends in the Connecticut legal field. These organizations offer opportunities for continuing education, mentoring, certification preparation and community service in the state:
- Central Connecticut Paralegal Association (CCPA), member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- New Haven County Association of Paralegals (NHCAP), member of NFPA
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