How to Become a Paralegal in Wyoming
There is demand for the skills paralegals have in the legal sector, and paralegals play critical roles in helping legal teams. Knowing what education and skills you need as a paralegal in Wyoming is essential for pursuing a career in the state.
What Does a Paralegal Do?
The role of a paralegal varies by industry and sector. Paralegals for a criminal lawyer will have different tasks than paralegals working in a corporate environment. The general role of paralegals is to be responsible for helping lawyers prepare for meetings, trials and hearings.
The paralegal may collect, analyze, and organize information. Writing reports for lawyers and presenting information may be part of the paralegal’s role. The paralegal acts as a fact checker, gathering information about laws, articles, precedents and judicial decisions. Preparation for a trial is often the beginning of a paralegal’s work. Paralegals help prepare legal arguments, motions and pleadings.
Paralegal Education for Wyoming
Wyoming does not have regulations or licensing for paralegal education, employment or registration. The Wyoming Supreme Court Rule of Professional Conduct and American Bar Association rule of conduct 5.3 requires that a paralegal be under direct supervision of an accredited lawyer. Paralegals are not authorized to provide direct legal services, and they cannot establish business relationships with clients, set fees, represent a client in court, or give legal advice.
Paralegals usually train on the job, but a college degree is becoming the norm more and more. Most employers prefer candidates with formal paralegal education, along with certification. The American Bar Association (ABA) has approved paralegal training programs in Wyoming to provide the qualifications law firms seek.
Obtaining formal ABA certification means these programs meet or exceed national standards. There are other paralegal programs in Wyoming, but these do not have ABA credentials. There are accredited paralegal programs—both classroom-based and online—that provide a quality education however.
Personal Qualities of a Paralegal
Having a good education is important to being a paralegal, but personal qualifications matter in being successful. Paralegals should have a basic understanding of the law, but have skills that include the following:
- Computer skills for research
- Excellent reading and comprehension skills
- Good communication skills
- Organizational skills
- Have a good ethical sensibility
You’ll be dealing with all types of clients and it’s critical to keep client interactions and conversations private and respect the confidentiality of documents.
Steps to Become a Paralegal in Wyoming
Get a College Degree
While there are not regulations for paralegal education in Wyoming, a college degree is useful in understanding the industry or setting in which you will work.
Earn a Paralegal Credential
Credentials through the American Bar Association from an ABA or other courses is not mandatory, but can help you have better employment choices and success. Some other 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 nurse or medical, family law, immigration, and litigation paralegal.
Keep up with Credentials
You should 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 Wyoming, the Legal Assistants of Wyoming (LAW) and The Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association (RMPA) are helpful organizations for aspiring paralegals.
Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook in Wyoming
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual salary for a paralegal in Wyoming is $49,160, just lower than the national median average of $49,500.
Paralegals in southwest Wyoming earn more, with a yearly average of $59,450.
The job forecast for Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, is projected to be 18 percent over the coming decade, which is faster growth than the BLS average of 15 percent for paralegals nationwide.
FIND A SCHOOL TODAY
Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll connect you with schools that offer paralegal studies degree programs.