How to Become a Paralegal in Utah
Pursuing a career as a paralegal can be a rewarding and smart endeavor, as there is demand for the skills qualified paralegals have in the legal and corporate sectors. Paralegals play critical roles in helping attorneys and legal teams, but knowing what education and skills you need as a paralegal in Utah is essential for pursuing a successful career.
What Does a Paralegal Do?
Paralegals for a criminal lawyer will have different tasks than paralegals working in a corporation, however general daily duties of paralegals cross all specialty fields and may include the following:
- Help lawyers prepare for meetings, trials and hearings
- Collect, analyze and organize information for lawyers
- Write reports for lawyers and present information to stakeholders
- Act as fact checkers with gathering information about laws, articles, precedents and judicial decisions
- Preparation for a trial by helping prepare legal arguments, motions and pleadings
Limited paralegal practitioners (LLPs) in Utah are a special type of paralegal that is able to help clients fill out and file court documents, prepare settlements and represent clients in mediated negotiations. LLPs cannot represent clients in court in the role of an attorney.
Paralegal Education for Utah
Utah does not have licensing requirements for paralegal education, employment or registration except for limited paralegal practitioners (LLPs). Regular paralegals do not require licensing, but have less legal ability than LLPs.
The differences are that it is necessary for LLPs to have a law degree; or an associate degree with a paralegal certificate, a paralegal certification, paralegal experience and additional coursework. It is helpful for LLPs to take courses in government, law or industry specialties. The ABA offers certification for paralegals in Utah. LLPs are authorized to help clients fill out and file documents, but not allowed to appear in court.
Personal Qualities of a Paralegal
A good education is important, but personal qualifications matter in being successful. Paralegals should cultivate these skills:
- Basic understanding of the law including legal terminology
- Computer skills for research
- Excellent reading skills
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills are useful
Being ethical is essential. Keeping client interaction private, respecting the confidentiality of documents and not going beyond your qualifications are ethics paralegals should practice.
Steps to Become a Paralegal in Utah
Get a College Degree
While there are not regulations for paralegal education in Utah, a college degree is useful in becoming a LLP and understanding the industry or setting in which you will work.
Obtain a Credential
Accreditation through the American Bar Association from an ABA or other courses is not mandatory, but can help you attain LLP status and have better employment choices and success. Professional certifications are the PACE offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), PCC offered by National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the CLA/CP offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), and the PP offered by the Association for Legal Professionals (NALS).
Obtain Certification in Specialties
A paralegal with a general certification will earn less pay than a paralegal with specialized certification. Some specializations you can earn as a paralegal are, in addition to the ABA paralegal certification, nurse or medical paralegal, family law, immigration and litigation.
Keep up with Credentials
Join professional organizations and pursue continuing education through online and university courses. Subscribing to paralegal magazines such as Litigation Support Today and trade magazines specific to your industry can help you stay current with paralegal regulations and industry requirements.
Nationally, the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA), or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) are resources for paralegals. In Utah, the professional organization is the Utah Paralegal Association.
Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook in Utah
The mean annual salary for a paralegal in Utah, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is $45,500, just under the national median annual wage of $49,500.
Paralegals working in metropolitan areas should earn more, for example paralegals in Salt Lake City earned a mean annual wage of $47,220.
Paralegal job growth in Utah through 2026 should be around 23.8 percent according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which is much higher than the national average projected by the BLS of 15 percent for the same time period.
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