How to Become a Paralegal in Delaware
By becoming a paralegal in Delaware you’ll have access to many lucrative career opportunities since this state has one of the highest concentrations of paralegal jobs in the country. A paralegal is a professional who performs substantive legal work while being supervised by an attorney. A paralegal’s responsibilities include helping lawyers to prepare for legal proceedings by managing cases, performing research, interviewing witnesses, communicating with clients and drafting and analyzing legal documents. However, paralegals don’t give legal advice or represent clients in court.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If you want to become a paralegal in Delaware, here are the steps you’ll need to take:
Find out what paralegals do.
Make sure a paralegal is the right job for you. Find out about the challenges and rewards that you can expect to encounter.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Get first-hand advice from paralegals associated with professional organizations like the Delaware Paralegal Association (DPA) to learn about the best career paths and suggestions for success.
Choose an educational program.
By earning a post-secondary certificate or degree, you show potential employers that you’ve made a serious commitment to working in the legal field.
Research job opportunities.
Private law firms employ the majority of paralegals. There also are jobs in local, state and federal government agencies. Some of the highest paying jobs are in the legal departments of large businesses.
Get work experience.
Get basic experience through internships, entry-level administrative legal jobs or volunteering with pro bono organizations such as Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. to help you stand out from other job applicants.
Find your first job.
With a solid education and some experience, you’ll be an attractive candidate for one of the many paralegal jobs in Delaware. Consider a few different positions since a paralegal’s duties can vary by employer.
Education Requirements in Delaware
There are no minimum education requirements to become a paralegal in Delaware and the state does not regulate the profession. However, a paralegal degree or certificate shows you have the knowledge to make a contribution from your first day on the job. In Delaware, you’ll find the following online and on-campus programs:
- Certificates in Paralegal Studies from community colleges
- Two-year associate degrees in Paralegal Studies at community colleges and colleges
- Four-year bachelor’s degrees in Legal Studies at colleges and universities
- Master’s degrees in Legal Studies at 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
- Full members of the Delaware Paralegal Association (DPA) who meet specific work and education requirements can earn Delaware Certified Paralegal (DCP) certification.
Paralegal Salary in Delaware
The mean annual wage for paralegals in Delaware is $55,420, which is higher than the national median annual salary of $49,500. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says years of experience in the field, education level attained and location play major factors in salary.
Career Opportunities in Delaware
The BLS says 1,210 paralegals are employed in Delaware. Delaware has the fifth highest concentration of paralegal jobs in the country, meaning that the state has a higher share of paralegal jobs than other areas.
As a paralegal in Delaware, you can benefit from joining national and local professional organizations. The Delaware Paralegal Association (DPA) is the only professional paralegal organization in the state. As a member, you are eligible to pursue Delaware Certified Paralegal (DCP) certification, awarded by the DPA. The DPA offers opportunities for mentoring, professional development, certification preparation and pro bono work in the state. The group also provides continuing education programs to help members meet ongoing credential requirements.
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