If you are interested in becoming a paralegal, this is an excellent option for certain people. A challenging yet rewarding career path with lots of opportunities and job security, becoming a paralegal is a great career option for those who are looking for long-term career options that also include opportunities for advancement. In fact, experts assert that paralegal opportunities will grow by 12% by 2028, which is much faster than the average job. Those who work as paralegals work in locations such as law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies, among other places.
Types of Paralegals
If you are interested in becoming a paralegal in Washington state, the following is a list of the types of paralegals you can choose from:
- Consumer Paralegal
- Bankruptcy Paralegal
- Corporate Paralegal
- Family Law Paralegal
- Freelance Paralegal
- Immigration Paralegal
- Intellectual Property Paralegal
- Labor and Employment Paralegal
- Law Clerk
- Legal Secretary
- Nurse Paralegal
- Real Estate Paralegal
Duties of a Paralegal
If you are interested in becoming a paralegal, you will be responsible for the following duties:
- Research: One of the top duties of a paralegal is to investigate and gather facts in relation to the cases they are working on.
- Legal Knowledge: Another major duty of a paralegal is to stay abreast of all new laws, regulations, and anything that affects the legal field.
- Filing: Another common duty of paralegals is to maintain documents in both electronic and paper filing systems.
- Care Preparation: Paralegals are also tasked with collecting and arranging evidence and other legal documents in order for the attorney to review and get prepared for a case.
- Summarization: Another duty of a paralegal is to write and summarize reports in order to help attorneys prepare for trials.
- Drafting of Documents: Paralegals are also responsible for drafting documents such as mortgages, contracts, and more.
- Collecting Statements: Another main job of a paralegal is to collect statements and affidavits that may be important for proving a case.
- Assist During Trials: Paralegals are also tasked with helping the lawyer during trials. This can include things such as taking notes, reviewing transcripts, handling exhibits, and more.
- Interviewing: Another major duty of a paralegal involves interviewing, clients and witnesses, calling clients, lawyers, outside vendors, scheduling meetings, and more.
How to become a paralegal in Washington state
If you are interested in becoming a paralegal in Washington state, you need to complete the following steps:
- Pursue Education: The first step to becoming a paralegal in Washington state is to pursue your education. This involves acquiring a minimum of an associate’s degree from a post-secondary institution. Nevertheless, many employers only hire paralegals that have earned a bachelor’s degree. Nevertheless, given that so few colleges offer paralegal degrees, many paralegals acquire degrees in other subjects before going on to obtain a certificate in paralegal studies, which are provided by the American Bar Association. Additionally, some lawyers actually hire students with no actual legal experience and train them on the job.
- Experience: If you need additional classes your school did not provide or otherwise need experience, you may need to contact a legal aid organization to get some suggestions on how to obtain the necessary information before moving forward.
- Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations: Additionally, while every employer has different requirements, some only accept applicants who have obtained certification. While this may require enrolling and completing a certification program, some local and national paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to students. In those cases, they receive the certification as long as they are able to pass the exam. Moreover, other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to those who meet a certain criteria. In particular, if you wish to be a paralegal in Washington State, you will likely need to contact the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) for more information. They offer two separate certifications, one for new paralegals and one for experienced paralegals.
Overall, if you are interested in becoming a paralegal certification in Washington state, there are a few ways you can go about that. On the one hand, you could simply begin by obtaining an associate’s degree and search for employment after you have completed the program. On the other hand, another option to comply with the Washington state paralegal requirements is to obtain a bachelor’s degree before pursuing employment. Moreover, while certifications may help you land certain positions, they are not a requirement in Washington state. Either way, you should be sure to acquire all the necessary experience before you attempt to apply for jobs. Additionally, be prepared to pass an exam if you want to get a certification.