How to Become a Paralegal in Kansas
Every law firm relies on a strong team of paralegals to support their caseloads and client services. The paralegal team takes care of many of the duties a lawyer might, including research, drafting briefs and motions, interviewing witnesses and delivering documents to the court clerk’s office. If you desire to become a paralegal in Kansas, this page is designed to tell you how to make it happen.
How to Become a Paralegal
Where lawyers are required to sit for the LSAT and then undergo three years of law school, paralegals don’t have any particular academic hurdles to clear. However, if you want your career to start on the best footing, or if you would like to take your legal career to the next level, there are a few steps to consider.
Is a paralegal career for me?
Before you invest a lot of money and time in a career path, ask yourself if it will be a good fit. You’ll need a certain set of skills or aptitudes, as well as a real drive towards the legal profession in general. As yourself these questions:
- Am I a critical thinker?
- What does the law mean to me?
- How well do I deal with strict procedures?
- Do I enjoy research and getting to the bottom of an issue?
- Does a day full of reading and writing appeal to me?
- Can I handle switching between a wide variety of tasks in the course of a week or day?
The best paralegals will have strong critical thinking skills and a deep love and respect for the law and its process. If you are ready to delve into case law, online research tools and courtroom procedure, you are already part way to achieving your dream career.
There is no set academic requirement for paralegals in Kansas. However, if you earn a degree in paralegal studies, you’ll find that employers may be more inclined to grant an interview, as more and more firms are requiring their paralegals to have completed a degree program. There are three basic academic tiers you can consider:
Certificate: A certificate in paralegal studies is a great option if you already have a degree. You won’t have to repeat any core courses and you can focus solely on your career goals. You can still consider this path if you don’t have a degree, but a degree will likely open more doors than a certificate alone.
Associate’s Degree: A two-year degree from a campus or online program is a standard entry-level credential for paralegals. Employers will be happy to see that you finished a full program and that you have a deeper base of learning of the field.
Bachelor’s Degree: If you already have an associate’s degree or are just starting your education, consider earning a bachelor’s degree. When you dedicate yourself to a four-year paralegal or criminal justice program, you add humanities courses or specific areas, such as business law or accounting, that will help you choose your specialty of law later on.
When you pass an exam administered by one of the national paralegal associations, you can call yourself certified, which commands respect from peers and proves to employers that you are serious about your career field choice.
Here are some available professional credentials:
- Paralegal Core Competency Exam – Once you pass the National Federation of Paralegal Associations examination, it will verify to an employer that your knowledge meets a higher standard.
- Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam – After you pass the PCCE, and practiced as a paralegal for a few years, you will want to sit for the PACE. These credentials will tell any law form in Kansas that you not only have the education, but also the depth of experience it takes to help them succeed.
- Certified Paralegal – Passing this exam allows you to say that you are a paralegal certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants.
- Advanced Paralegal Certification – This is the top certification available from NALA, and these credentials are the mark of a professional paralegal.
Paralegal Salary and Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2019-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for paralegals is $49,500 and the standard entry-level education was an associate’s degree. The BLS projects a 15 percent growth rate for paralegals through 2026, which is higher than the national average for all occupations.
Depending upon where you work in Kansas will play a factor in salary, as will years of experience and your education level. For example, while the annual mean wage for the state is $44,480. Wichita paralegals earned $44,180 while Topeka paralegals earned a mean annual salary of $44,310.
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