In Kansas, like many states in the US, becoming a paralegal is one of the fastest ways to get into a professional career. Paralegals are people who help attorneys with legal work. They do many of the same things lawyers do but are not licensed or allowed to actually practice law. They may do research, prepare papers, interview people, or anything else that would help an attorney do his or her job. Paralegals need to have a solid grounding in their knowledge of the law in the state where they are employed. This can come from work experience or from education.
How is a paralegal different than a legal assistant?
Paralegals are more involved with actually doing legal work, similar to what an attorney would do. A legal assistant is essentially a secretary. There are a lot of similarities and overlaps, but paralegals make more money. Paralegals may do more research, while legal assistants do more data entry and scheduling, for example.
What is required to become a paralegal in Kansas?
The short answer is nothing or just a high school diploma, but it isn’t that simple. Kansas has no regulations or rules for becoming a paralegal. The Kansas State Bar Association has adopted guidelines for the training it feels paralegals need in order to do a good job. It is still up to individual attorneys to hire who they want as paralegals. Most law firms want some assurance that a person has training or work experience that gives them skills to do the job. The Kansas State Bar Association’s guidelines say a person should complete education that has been approved by the American Bar Association, complete a degree, and have one year of a paralegal on the job training – which would be something like an internship. The Kansas State Bar Association also recognizes five years of experience as equivalent to education. It also recommends national certification.
What skills are needed to be a paralegal in Kansas?
While there are no legal requirements, the Kansas State Bar Association has set forth some skills it believes a person should have. The Kansas Paralegal Association endorses those requirements and has adopted a formal description of what a paralegal is. The Kansas Paralegals Association says this person performs “substantive legal work” that an attorney would do if no paralegal were there. The work requires great knowledge of the law, legal concepts, and the judicial system in Kansas. The person must be highly organized and detail-oriented, according to the Kansas State Bar Association. The paralegal should be able to do research without supervision and be able to help prepare papers reflecting that research. Typing and computer skills are also required. Solid communication skills both oral and written should also be part of a paralegal’s skill set, the Kansas Paralegal Association recommends.
What training is available in Kansas?
Several universities offer a variety of programs to educate people on how to be a paralegal, that would satisfy the Kansas State Bar Association. Most of them also offer certifications that are not required, but they do impress people who are hiring paralegals. Many attorneys would look favorably on an applicant who had this certification. You may complete simple paralegal training, or combine that with other studies for a four-year degree in a related field. It is possible to take a test after you finish training, and get certified by the National Association of Legal Professionals, or by the National Association of Legal Assistants.
How do you get experience?
Many of the educational programs offered by universities in the state offer a work experience internship. If your school requires the internship they will help you find it. If they do not require the internship, you should look for volunteer work experience on your own, which can be with an attorney or an organization of some kind. With there being no state requirements, an experience that shows what you can do is given more weight by many employers.
How do you actually get a job in the field?
Once you have the education and some experience, whether through an internship or as a volunteer, you are ready to look for a job. Check work job boards for attorneys looking for paralegals. You may also be able to get a job with government agencies, businesses, corporations, and private agencies. Paralegal certification Kansas City is recommended but not required. Even so, a paralegal certificate Kansas City would not hurt.
What is the job outlook for paralegals in Kansas?
Paralegals are becoming more in demand as lawyers face big workloads, and want help without having to hire another full-time lawyer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment growth at 15 to 19 percent yearly through 2026 on the national level. The state of Kansas should do about the same as the national rate the Kansas Paralegal Association says. This projected growth rate is higher than it is for many other jobs.