If you’re wondering how to become a paralegal in Idaho, you’re making a smart career move. There are currently many opportunities for paralegals, and there is likely to be an increased need for people in the paralegal profession in the coming years. Whether you’re interested in eventually becoming a lawyer or you’d like to stick to the paralegal career track, the field offers many opportunities.
Working as a paralegal can mean different tasks from day to day. Each case that your lawyer(s) take on will bring on new challenges, and you’ll constantly be learning on the job, no matter how much education you may have. As laws and legal trends change, it’s important that paralegals are able to learn continuously, adapting to new expectations. Continuing education can be helpful for paralegals, and can help paralegals prepare for law school (if becoming a lawyer is their ultimate career goal).
The first step in learning how to become a paralegal in Idaho is to learn more about the Idaho paralegal requirements. In this article, we’ll dig into everything you need to know on paralegal requirements in Idaho, from how to get certified to assist a lawyer to what you need to consider when you’re searching to learn more about Idaho paralegal requirements as far as your education is concerned. When you earn a paralegal certification, you’re showing potential employers that you’re serious about your education and your career path and that you’re ready to take on the hard work of helping lawyers win cases.
When you meet the paralegal requirements in Idaho, you’ll be able to work closely with a law firm team, helping lawyers investigate cases, summarize reports for trials, and even work directly with clients to help them get the justice that they deserve. If you’re passionate about the legal system and helping people get what’s fair according to the law, working as a paralegal allows you to directly make a positive impact on both the law firm at which you work and the clients who you serve. Be sure to choose your paralegal education program carefully, as you want to be sure you’re fully prepared to begin work upon graduation.
When you’re searching for more information about how to become a paralegal, it’s likely that you’re wondering what kind of education is necessary, or if you can study on your own and begin work with a law firm without getting a degree. You are not required to complete ABA-approved paralegal programs in Idaho in order to qualify for employment as a paralegal. That being said, many law firms only want paralegals who have completed in-person or online paralegal programs in Idaho. If you’re in the process of completing your paralegal program, you may be able to find a job that’s willing to allow you to work while you’re still in the process of finishing your classes. When you complete in-person or online paralegal programs in Idaho, you’re showing your employer that you’ve put in the hard work required to serve both lawyers and clients at the highest possible level.
Paralegals need to know the ins and outs of preparing complex legal documents accurately, and the completion of ABA-approved paralegal programs in Idaho will teach you everything you need to know to start your career on the right foot. In addition to document preparation, you can also expect to hone your writing abilities. Paralegal work requires intense attention to detail, specifically in written documents. If you’re someone who prefers working in broad terms, you may want to think about a different career path. Paralegals need to prepare documents to the exact specifications of both the law and their legal team, and there’s no room for error. Paralegal education can be tedious, and it’s important that students derive enjoyment from putting hard work into a project.
There are several types of paralegal education that can support a paralegal career. Students may choose to go through a certification-only (non-degree) program, an associate’s program in paralegal studies, a bachelor’s program in legal studies, or a master’s program in legal studies.
During your paralegal education in Idaho, you’ll take many courses, which may include:
- Professional math applications
- Criminal law
- Civil litigation
- Legal research
- Legal writing
- American government
- Legal ethics and professionalism
- Legal terminology
You’ll need to think about whether an online or in-person paralegal program is the best fit for your needs. Both options offer advantages and disadvantages. Many students who prefer online coursework enjoy being able to work on their own schedule. This option may be ideal for students who have other responsibilities, such as a full-time job or caring for family members. If you choose to go to paralegal school online, be sure to talk with your advisor about whether your program is synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous classes require all students to be online at the same time, much like an in-person class meeting. Asynchronous classes allow students to log on and complete their coursework whenever it’s convenient for them. Some programs offer both synchronous and asynchronous classes, and some classes have both asynchronous and synchronous aspects.
While online school can be more convenient than an in-person program, some students find that they learn better when they’re able to physically sit in a classroom with their professor and classmates. This can also be helpful for students who have trouble focusing at home. If you decide to go with an in-person program, be sure to check the schedule and be sure that it can work with your other responsibilities. Often, class attendance is a part of your grade, and poor attendance can mean that you won’t be able to graduate from your program on time.
Regardless of whether you choose an in-person or online school for your paralegal education, be sure to form relationships with both your professors and your classmates. Networking is important in the paralegal world, and forming relationships can make it easier for you to get a job after you graduate.
You may also want to consider a specialty area for your paralegal education. While all paralegals closely support lawyers, different areas of the law require different skillsets from paralegals. A paralegal working for a family law firm, for example, may have training that helps them work closely with families in tough situations. A paralegal working at a law firm that typically handles civil suits will likely have different training than a paralegal who specializes in criminal cases. If you’re not sure about what specialty area makes sense for you, you may want to consider job shadowing some area paralegals to get a sense of what type of law appeals to your interests and skill set.
When deciding on your specialty, however, don’t just think about what areas of the law are most interesting to you. You’ll also want to consider your own life experience and career history when choosing an area in which you’d like to work. If you had positive experiences with family law growing up, this may be a good fit for you. If you’re passionate about helping people who may have been wrongly accused of crimes, criminal law may be a better fit. It can take some time to decide what type of specialty is the best fit for you.
If you’re currently employed, talk with your employer about whether they’re willing to offer tuition reimbursement to help you recoup some of the cost of your education. Be sure to read the fine print — some employers offer tuition reimbursement with no strings attached, while others require that you continue to work for them for a period of time after your degree ends. Others require that you maintain a certain grade point average in order to continue receiving tuition assistance. If your employer does not offer tuition assistance, you may want to consider working with your school’s financial aid office to learn more about grants and scholarships available to help ease the cost of tuition.
There is no requirement for paralegal certification in Idaho, meaning that anyone is able to work as a paralegal once they’ve been hired by a law firm. Even though Idaho paralegal certification is not required in the state, many employers prefer paralegals who have proven themselves through a certification or other paralegal education program. No matter what paralegal certification in Idaho you receive, paralegals are still required to work under the supervision of a licensed lawyer.
In order to receive an Idaho paralegal certification, you’ll need to sit for an exam. There are no Idaho paralegal license exams, as licensing is not required in the state. There are three exams that are generally recognized after completing a paralegal certification Idaho online:
- The certified paralegal certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants
- The advanced certified paralegal certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants
- The professional paralegal certification from the National Association for Legal Support Professionals
If you’re already putting in the work for a paralegal certification in Idaho online, it makes sense to sit for the exam so that you’re able to add your certification to your resume. Since an Idaho paralegal license isn’t required, there can be a high level of competition for paralegal jobs in the state of Idaho. When you earn your paralegal certification in Idaho online and you also pass the test accompanied with your certification, you’re showing potential employers that you have the ability to meet their needs.
For most paralegals, education and certification are only the first steps in developing a lucrative career as a paralegal. Experience is key, both in getting hired and in getting promoted to higher paralegal positions. When you’re working to get your certification, you may want to consider interning or working part-time at a nearby law firm so that you’re able to bolster your resume with experience after you earn your certification.
Job Market and Salary
The national average salary for paralegals is $52,920 per year or $25.44 per hour. Paralegals sometimes work a typical 40-hour workweek, and other times find themselves working overtime. When business at a law firm ramps up, or a difficult case is on the horizon, lawyers may ask their paralegal team to work more hours than usual.
The Idaho paralegal salary averages around $43,000 per year, slightly lower than the national average salary for paralegals. It’s important to remember that while the Idaho paralegal salary is lower than the national average, many areas in Idaho have a lower cost of living than other areas of the country, and a lower salary can go a longer way than it would in a large metropolitan area.
In addition to salary, job security is also an important factor to consider when choosing a career path. Thankfully, paralegal jobs in Idaho (as well as paralegal jobs across the United States) are on the rise. Paralegal jobs in Idaho are expected to rise by 13.8% from 2016-2026, on par with the national average expected job growth for paralegals at 12%. This means that it’s likely that paralegal jobs in Idaho will continue to be plentiful in the coming years.
This is a good time to start looking for Idaho paralegal jobs. All industries have ebb and flow, and starting a paralegal education now means that graduates will enter the market when it’s still likely that plenty of Idaho paralegal jobs will be available.
Working as a paralegal is a tough, but rewarding, career choice. Remember, if you’re thinking about going into the paralegal field, it’s not enough to simply be passionate about justice and the law. You also must have extreme attention to detail, and be able to work hard to ensure that no mistakes are made. Paralegals work tirelessly to support their lawyers and clients and have the ability to make a real difference in people’s lives. If you’re thinking about starting your paralegal education, reach out to a local or online school today to learn more about how you can get started.