How to Become a Paralegal in Idaho?
Idaho has no laws or regulations that address the requirements of licensing or certification of paralegals. So, if you have a serious career interest in learning how to become a paralegal in Idaho, the path to this career may include on-the-job-training or, academic training – or both! The bare minimum requires that a paralegal be 18 or older and either a US Citizen or legal alien.
State law in Idaho requires that a professional paralegal work directly under an attorney licensed by the Idaho State Bar. Specifically, Idaho Code 3-420 (Unlawful Practice of Law) strictly prohibits non-lawyers from providing legal advice or the performance of duties that dictate the legal obligations/rights of others. And it is noted that the Idaho State Bar has previously prosecuted individuals for practicing law without a license.
Paralegals may begin as legal secretaries and become a professional through on-the-job training. However, aspiring paralegals will become more competitive in a job search if they have completed a structured campus-based or online paralegal degree from the available Idaho paralegal programs.
Campus-Based & Online Paralegal Degree & Certificate Programs
With the modern education landscape, students seeking a certificate or degree in paralegal studies have more educational options than ever from the many accredited online paralegal programs available to Idaho aspiring paralegals.
Many certificates and paralegal degree programs are an excellent stepping-stone for paralegals just starting their careers. A certificate program can be completed in the shortest amount of time. Idaho paralegal programs leading to a degree include –
- An associate degree in paralegal studies – typically 60 credits.
- A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies – typically 120 credits. There are two types of baccalaureate programs in paralegal studies –
- A degree program for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.
- A paralegal degree program for students who have no prior post-secondary education.
Paralegals also have the option to further their education with a graduate paralegal degree.
Most Idaho paralegal programs require students to participate in a relevant internship as this allows them to apply theories to real-world situations and scenarios. Aspiring paralegals may also gain experience with the following –
- Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc.
- Idaho Law Foundation of the Idaho State Bar
- Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program
After graduating from a campus-based or online paralegal degree program, Idaho paralegals may choose to become certified.
National Certification for Paralegals
A certified paralegal is a person who has passed one of the professional certification tests administered by one of the national paralegal organizations. But it is significant to note that certification is not the same as being certificated. A certificated paralegal is someone who has completed a certificate in the paralegal studies program.
To obtain National Certification, a paralegal must demonstrate a combination of education and professional experience. These are the more notable national examinations that lead to certification –
- The NFPA’s – PACE certification.
- The NFPA’s – PCCE certification.
- The NALS’s – PP certification.
- The NALA’s – CLA/CP certification.
State Paralegal Related Associations
- The Idaho Association of Paralegals, founded in 1980, is a professional organization that was developed to support those paralegals employed in the Northern and Eastern sections of Idaho. More than half the paralegal members in Idaho work for private law firms. In addition, 73% of members hold a baccalaureate degree or higher.
- The Idaho State Bar (ISB) & its “Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistants”
Paralegal Salary Information for Idaho
A paralegal are considered an integral member of any legal team, with salaries and responsibilities that vary on the specific paralegal position and employer.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the federal government, reveals that the median yearly salary for the more than 345,000 paralegals working in the United States was $52,920 – in May 2020. This is equivalent to a median hourly wage of $25.44 per hour.
On a national level, a paralegal can expect to find these salaries –
|10%||$ 32,900 /year||$15.82 per hour|
|25%||$ 40,640/year||$19.54 per hour|
|Median @ 50%||$ 52,920/year||$25.44 per hour|
|75%||$ 67,080/year||$32.25 per hour|
|90%||$ 85,160/year||$40.94 per hour|
The median yearly salary for the nearly 1,500 legal assistants & paralegals working in Idaho in May 2020 was $49,830, which falls just below the national median salary ($52,920/year) for paralegals. About one-half of Idaho’s paralegals were employed in the greater Boise metro area, followed by the Idaho Falls vicinity.