A paralegal is both an important and rewarding career. It is also an in-demand job. According to figures by the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information, the paralegal profession is projected to see a 9.4 percent growth in the state until the year 2022.
If you are interested in becoming a paralegal in Maine, you have come to the right place, we will go over the Maine requirements for paralegals so you can get started on making your dream of becoming a paralegal in Maine a reality today.
What is a paralegal?
According to Maine law, a paralegal or legal assistant has the education, training, or experience necessary to work for an attorney or corporation and perform substantive legal work, for which the attorney is responsible. If you present yourself as a paralegal in Maine and do not meet these qualifications, you may be fined up to $1,000 for breaking Maine state law.
There are more than 1,000 paralegals that work in Maine. According to the Bureau of Labor, Maine employs almost as many paralegals as attorneys.
What does a paralegal do?
- A paralegal in Maine will likely start out by preparing legal documents for the attorneys or legal staff. They may also start out working as a legal secretary to get some experience before they are given more responsibility.
- Many Maine paralegals will find a job in law offices, corporations, government agencies, and non-profits. There are many businesses, not just law firms, in Maine that are seeking paralegal assistance.
- Paralegals will work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney and are strictly prohibited from representing clients or offering legal advice.
What is the average salary for a paralegal in Maine?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the yearly average wage for paralegals in the state of Maine is around $45,410.
Step 1: Receive paralegal education
Education is not required to become a paralegal in Maine. But, most employers prefer candidates who have some form of experience, training, or education. Paralegal candidates who have education can distinguish themselves among other applicants in the competitive paralegal job market. Education will also help paralegals meet eligibility requirements for national certification exams. To take the Maine paralegal certification exam. You must be at least 18 years old to get your Maine paralegal certification.
On top of courses, there are certificates and degrees that aspiring paralegals can get in Maine. Certificate programs focus on coursework in legal studies as it pertains to paralegals. Once the certificate program is complete, the person becomes a certified paralegal.
Degrees in paralegal studies are becoming more popular and more available. Currently, you can earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, or, master’s degree in paralegal studies.
Step 2: Get paralegal work experience in Maine
You’ll want to get some experience in the form of an internship so that you can get an idea of what the day-to-day duties of a paralegal are. Your school may offer internships for paralegals, if they don’t, you can find an internship on your own. A lot of legal aid services and organizations are always looking for interns who are eager to learn the ropes.
Step 3: Get certified as a Maine paralegal
There are a number of national certification organizations that offer Maine paralegal certification, including:
- Certified Legal Assistant or Certified Paralegal (CLA or CP) through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) – certification by passing an examination
- Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) – certification by curriculum/courses (credential issued if you pass is the CRP- Certified Registered Paralegal)
- Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) –certification by passing an examination (credential issued once you pass is the Registered Paralegal -RP)
Step 4: Look for a job as a paralegal in Maine
Your paralegal job search is not limited to only law firms. Businesses, industries, government agencies, and non-profits all use paralegals. Start with a quick Google search of “Paralegal jobs in Maine,” and begin the application process.
Paralegal associations are a great resource for new and veteran paralegals. They provide resources including a job bank, continuing education, and a community for paralegals. In Maine, there is no Maine Paralegal Association. But there is the NLS, which is a similar place to find jobs, education, and resources for Maine paralegal certification and beyond.
NALS Maine says: “We are committed to the delivery of quality legal services through continuing legal education and increased professionalism, promoting a standard for members and recognition in the legal profession through the certification program, and providing networking opportunities for members.”