Oregon employs over 4,600 paralegals and the outlook for paralegals in the state is only rising. However, the state does not regulate paralegal training. This fact may make some wonder how to become a paralegal in Oregon. Fortunately, numerous Oregon paralegal programs exist that can help someone earn a paralegal degree or an online paralegal degree with training toward official certification as well.
Paralegals work with other legal entities, typically lawyers and law firms. These professionals provide important support and take on duties that are essential to their employers. Because there’s no state regulation of the training or education of a paralegal, answering how to become a paralegal in Oregon typically comes down to education.
How Do I Become a Paralegal in Oregon?
It’s possible to luck into a paralegal job in Oregon and learn on the way. The odds of this happening are very slim, but not impossible. Even in such situations, the hire would need to put in some heavy work to keep up. To have the best chance of becoming a working paralegal and earning a great salary doing it, the journey starts with education.
Applicants who have no technical legal experience should seek a paralegal degree program or an online paralegal degree program as opposed to just a certification program. Still, this decision will depend entirely on the applicant’s overall goals.
A certification program can help someone find work as a paralegal in Oregon, but a paralegal degree can position someone to take on more responsibilities, advance further in the field, and specialize in a legal niche. These things are all important for those who want to go further as a paralegal or transition into other legal fields.
In many cases, an attorney, firm, or organization that hires a paralegal will expect the hire to have a degree. The certification will help an applicant gain a competitive edge. The certification means the applicant has gone through ethical training and learned the technical details of the job.
The paralegal degree or online paralegal degree shows the applicant has education in law and legal concepts as well as the ability to deal with legal documentation and language. The certification shows the applicant understands the job, the seriousness of the job, and knows how to be an asset to their employer. For someone serious about the paralegal profession, both these things are important.
How Do I Find the Right Oregon Paralegal Program?
Narrowing the choices down to the right Oregon paralegal programs involves doing a little research and understanding what makes a paralegal degree program or online paralegal degree program a good one. Generally, the right program will include one or more of the following:
- Approval of the Oregon State Bar
- Approval of the American Bar Association (ABA)
- Approval of the Oregon Paralegal Association (OPA)
- Approval of one or more of the top Oregon law firms
If seeking a degree, applicants should always choose a school with proper accreditation. The goal of selecting Oregon paralegal programs based on these criteria is to make sure the student will have a recognized paralegal degree when they graduate. This will help them enter the paralegal field quickly and with the right knowledge needed to work as a paralegal in Oregon specifically.
Another thing to look at is the curriculum of the programs. Many paralegal degrees and online paralegal degree programs include training toward taking one of the national paralegal certification exams. This means applicants should look for Oregon paralegal programs that mention:
- The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Or another of the nationally recognized paralegal professional group.
The OPA offers the Oregon Certified Paralegal credential, which can allow an applicant to take the title of certified paralegal within the state.
Is An Online Paralegal Degree Worth It?
Obtaining an online paralegal degree is no different than obtaining a paralegal degree in any other way. All the criteria for finding a good program still apply if those programs exist partially or fully online. The same organizations and agencies that lend their stamp of approval to Oregon paralegal programs offline do the same for their online counterparts as well.
Applicants still must do their research before choosing an online paralegal degree program. It’s just as much effort as they would put into looking at a more traditional degree program.
For many people, it makes far more sense to pursue an online paralegal degree. Online programs tend to offer more options and flexibility for some people. So, an applicant on the fence concerning the online route can rest assured and pursue their degree or certification with confidence.