How to Become a Paralegal in Oregon
If you have an interest in the law and want to pursue a career path that is both lucrative and in-demand, consider becoming a paralegal. These legal professionals work behind the scenes in a wide range of legal settings providing support and assistance to lawyers. Their most common duties include doing in-depth legal research, carefully drafting legal documents and forms and maintaining meticulously organized files of legal information. Oregon is a great state to begin a career as a paralegal, because compared to other states the standards for entry into the profession are relatively low.
Steps to Become a Paralegal in Oregon
Becoming a paralegal is a great career choice for some, but not all. In order to set yourself up for success, you will want to follow these steps before beginning a career as a paralegal in Oregon.
Learn what Being a Paralegal is Really Like
Learn more about the day to day responsibilities of a paralegal, and speak directly to a practicing professional if you can. That way you can be sure this is the right line of work for you.
Acquire Education and Training
The more skills and credentials you have at the start of your career, the more appealing you will be to prospective employers.
Think about Your Long-Term Goals
Spend some time determining what kind of legal setting you would like to work in and where in Oregon you want to be located before you start looking for your first job.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Oregon
The state of Oregon places no formal educational requirements on paralegals. However, professionals who seek either an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree related to paralegal studies have a much greater chance of finding a job and excelling once in the role.
Earning Paralegal Licensure in Oregon
Anyone with basic knowledge and interest in legal studies could begin working as a paralegal in Oregon. That may seem like good news for prospective paralegals, but it also means that job seekers need to go above and beyond in order to stand out. A combination of formal education, completion of a certification program and work experience in a legal setting demonstrates to prospective employers that a candidate has the necessary abilities and aptitudes
Paralegal Salary in Oregon
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the median annual salary for paralegals is $49,500, so paralegals working in Oregon have a salary advantage in that the mean annual salary is $52,360.
Working in a metropolitan area, having more education and years of experience on the job also plays a factor in salary. For example, paralegals working in the Portland area earned $55,170 annually says the BLS.
Paralegal Career Opportunities in Oregon
According to the BLS, there are 3,290 paralegals working in Oregon. That figure does not top the list of states, but it is not close to the bottom either. It is estimated that the demand for paralegals nationwide will grow by 15 percent through 2026, which is higher than the national average for all professions. In Oregon specifically, the expected growth in demand is right in line with the national average at 15.6 percent.
There are job opportunities for paralegals located throughout the state in law firms, large corporations, government agencies and even some non-profits.
Final Steps for Success as a Paralegal
Oregon is one of the best states in the country to pursue work as a paralegal. But that does not mean long-term career success is a foregone conclusion. Paralegals must be proactive about pursuing continuing education and professional development opportunities. Both are available through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) as well as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The state and national Bar Association can also be a big asset to rely on. The professionals who regularly make an effort to learn new skills, develop specializations and network with other legal professionals should have the most success.
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