How to Become a Paralegal in New Hampshire
Paralegals perform a wide variety of tasks as a support system to supervising attorneys. While your exact daily chores will vary depending on the type of law you choose to specialize in, typical duties may include the following:
- Investigating cases
- Maintaining and organizing documents
- Drafting correspondence and documents
- Filing appeals, exhibits and briefs
- Conducting research of regulations and laws
- Summarizing reports
- Helping lawyers in the courtroom with exhibits, transcripts and notes
Paralegals help attorneys prepare for trials, hearings, and corporate meetings and also use technology for organizing the documentation and data pertaining to cases. Paralegals are legally not able to advise clients or dispense legal advice in general.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
There are certain steps you’ll need to take in order to become a successful paralegal in New Hampshire. Here’s are some of the things you’ll need to do:
Choose a specialty.
Just as lawyers practice a specific type of law paralegals also train in one niche so they’re proficient in their employer’s business.
Complete your education.
Although no specific level of education is required you should earn at least your associate’s degree, preferably a bachelor’s degree, in order to be competitive in the job market.
Certification isn’t required by state law but it is by most employers as it demonstrates your proficiency and skills in your chosen field.
Work an internship.
If an internship isn’t included in your degree program you should apply to a legal aid office or law firm so you have experience in the field.
Apply for entry level positions.
You should expect to work a year or two in a lower paying position before applying for your dream job.
Paralegal Education Requirements in New Hampshire
New Hampshire doesn’t require any formal education to become a paralegal and in theory you could enter the field with on-the-job training. But the fact is, almost half of working paralegals nationally hold a bachelor’s degree, and when you start looking for employment, you’ll see the advantage of doing the extra work to earn your four-year degree so you will be competitive in an already competitive field.
New Hampshire state law doesn’t require paralegals to be licensed or certified but most employers do as part of their hiring process. Passing the exam given by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or a similar organization will demonstrate you have the knowledge and skills to perform the job. Professional certifications are voluntary and are offered in different experience levels.
Paralegals in New Hampshire earn higher than the median annual national average for paralegals, which is $49,500 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2019-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
The mean annual wage for paralegals in the state is $50,820, says the BLS. Keep in mind that those in the higher earnings tier are typically those who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and have the most experience. Location may also play a factor in salary, for example, paralegals working in central New Hampshire, which has the highest concentration of paralegal careers, earned a mean annual wage of $52,530.
Career Opportunities in New Hampshire
Most paralegals in New Hampshire are employed in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metro area, which is one of the top ten metropolitan areas in the country for paralegal employment. The majority work in law firms but some are also employed by insurance groups, corporations and financial institutions throughout the state. Some major corporations who use the skills of paralegals and are based in New Hampshire are Bean Group, RevereIT, NorAm International Partners, and Madison Components.
Once you earn your degree and pass the certification exam you’ll want to join associations that are focused on paralegals and their role in the legal system. These professional groups can function as a great support system and help you network in the paralegal community.
They can also help with continuing education resources, which are an excellent idea as you can take classes specific to your employer’s law office specialty and keep up on changes within the field. The New Hampshire professional group for paralegals is the Paralegal Association of New Hampshire, which is an affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).
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