How to Become a Paralegal in Nebraska
Paralegals provide support services to attorneys and legal firms working in a variety of industries. While their daily duties depend upon the type of law being practiced, typical tasks might include the following:
- Collecting and organizing documents
- Taking statements and affidavits
- Drafting legal documents and correspondence
- Researching relevant regulations and laws
- Filing briefs and appeals
- Working with a lawyer in court to handle exhibits, take notes and review transcripts
Although Nebraska has no state requirements for paralegal education, certification or licensure, most employers prefer those who hold a bachelor’s degree and have pursued national certification.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
There are certain steps you’ll need to take to become a paralegal. Here’s a quick list of what you’ll need to do:
Choose a specialty.
Just as lawyers practice one type of law, paralegals may also focus on one area such as criminal law, insurance law or bankruptcy law.
Complete your education.
Although by theory you can become a paralegal with only on the job training most attorneys won’t interview prospective employees unless they have at least an associate’s degree, though most paralegals hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Although law does not require it, most employers will require it.
Perform an internship.
While this is usually part of your degree program if it’s not, you should contact a legal aid office or law firm to see if they have available internships. This will give you valuable experience in the field.
Apply for entry level jobs.
Most likely you’ll need to work a year or two in a lower level position before you have enough experience to climb the law firm ladder.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Nebraska
While no formal education is required to become a paralegal in Nebraska the fact is, almost half of working paralegals nationally hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Less than 20 percent have an associate’s degree, so you should consider a four-year degree bachelor’s degree to ensure marketability.
There is no Nebraska state law requiring a paralegal to be licensed or certified, but the majority of employers will look for certification during the hiring process. Passing the national exam administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) will show you have the education, knowledge and skills to perform the job requirements successfully. NALA offers two credentials for paralegals—a basic paralegal certification and an advanced certification for paralegals who have worked in the field longer or are senior.
Paralegals in Nebraska earn slightly less than those in other states but the salary is in line with the national median of $49,500, and a lower cost of living in the state. Here are the median annual salaries for Nebraska paralegals, as cited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Note that higher wage earners are usually those with the most experience and education, though location also plays a factor:
Lowest 10 percent:
Median 10 percent:
Highest 10 percent:
In regard to location, paralegals living in larger metropolitan areas may earn more. For example, paralegals working in Lincoln earned a mean annual wage of $44,180 while those residing in Omaha earned $49,280.
Career Opportunities in Nebraska
Paralegal careers in Nebraska are projected to grow by 16 percent through 2026, which is just above the national average job growth rate of 15 percent for paralegals through 2026. Like the rest of the country, most paralegals are employed by law firms.
The majority of paralegals work in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. Aside from law firms paralegals are employed by insurance agencies, financial institutions and corporations. Some of the bigger corporations based in Nebraska who may employ paralegals are Union Pacific, ConAgra Foods, and Berkshire Hathaway.
Once you’ve earned your degree and passed the certification exam, your employer may request you take additional continuing education classes focusing on their specialty of law. You’ll also want to join the Nebraska Paralegal Association for access to meetings, seminars, continuing education programs and networking opportunities in your chosen profession. The Nebraska Paralegal Association is affiliated with NALA so you’ll also have access to national event information.
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