When a person decides he or she wants to become a paralegal, he or she may wonder what the first step is. This list of frequently asked questions can help a person know the steps he or she needs to take to become a paralegal in Delaware.
What Degree Do You Need to Practice as a Paralegal in Delaware?
A person who wants to become a paralegal in Delaware should look into an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or another similar degree program. While the Bar Association of Delaware only requires an associate’s degree to practice, a person may want to further his or her education and earn a bachelor’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree, a person has more opportunities since some jobs may require this level of education as a minimum requirement.
Additionally, a person has a higher earning potential as a paralegal when he or she earns a bachelor’s degree.
A person may also want to consider earning a certificate in a specialty of law approved by the Bar Association of Delaware. These programs allow a person to further develop his or her skills and possibly focus on one area of law.
What Should a Person Look for in a Paralegal Studies Program?
Once a person determines the level of education he or she wants, he or she should look into different programs in his or her area. Unfortunately, and Bar Association of Delaware doesn’t approve of any fully online programs, so a person will need to look into schools that offer fully on-campus or partially on-campus programs.
After an individual finds a few different schools in the area that offer programs approved by the Delaware Bar Association, a person should compare the options by the reputation of the school. The person should compare based on what he or she will learn in the program since not all programs use the same curriculum.
An individual also wants to look into the graduation rate and other similar statistics.
In addition to approval from the Delaware Bar Association, a person should also look at the reviews online to see what students are saying about the school.
Do You Need to Complete an Internship?
This really isn’t a yes or no question, so much as a possibility. A person needs at least one year of experience as a paralegal working under someone else. An individual may choose to work with a law firm that’s willing to take him or her under their wing or work at a pro bono job. However, an internship is a simple way for a person to gain the experience he or she needs to work as a paralegal.
A person may find internships by calling around at local law firms, searching job boards, or by looking into the Delaware Paralegal Association. Sometimes, a person can find internships that let him or her make money while he or she takes on this role.
Keep in mind that even if a person takes on an internship that doesn’t offer pay, this experience could be worth it. A person not only fulfills the requirement to become a paralegal, but a person also gains valuable experience that he or she could never learn in a traditional classroom setting.
Do you Need a Certification to Practice as a Paralegal?
Although education is the first step regarding how to become a paralegal in Delaware, a person may wonder what else he or she needs to do before he or she can practice as a paralegal. Fortunately, in Delaware, a student doesn’t need to have a certification to practice. However, a person may want to look into earning a certification because it’s an extra qualification that can make a person stand out when he or she is in search of a job.
The certification shows that a person has a certain level of knowledge and expertise in the field and is qualified for the job.
Besides Education, Is There Anything Else You Need to Become a Paralegal?
Education is the key to becoming a paralegal. No law firm or another agency will hire a person without a degree in paralegal studies in the state of Delaware. A certification isn’t necessary but is beneficial. In addition, a person will need to have experience. A person can gain this experience throughout an internship or through a pro bono opportunity once he or she completes all the other requirements of how to become a paralegal in Delaware.
A person can find opportunities to gain experience through the Delaware Paralegal Association. The Delaware Paralegal Association offers resources to help a paralegal gain experience and have success throughout his or her career.
Delaware is a rather lenient state in terms of regulations. A person does need a degree, but certification isn’t mandatory, just encouraged.