In order to minimize the costs of legal services, more and more law firms are looking to expand the hiring of paralegals. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 18.2 percent growth in Kansas’ paralegal job field between 2012 and 2022. This estimate is good news for those interested in becoming a paralegal in the state.
State-regulated hiring, education and certification is not required in Kansas for aspiring paralegals. That being said, there are numerous programs that applicants are encouraged to complete in order to improve their chances of being hired at the firm or agency of their choice.
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How to Become a Paralegal in Kansas
- Certification: Certification is not mandatory, but is encouraged.
- Age: You must be of a legal age to work as a paralegal in Kansas, at least 18 years or older.
- Licensure: A license is not required to work as a paralegal in the state.
- Degree: Education beyond a high school diploma is not mandatory, however many employers in the state expect candidates to have completed a program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or a specialized degree.
- Experience: Some schools require participation in an internship while you’re a student. Pro bono volunteer work is also a valid option for acquiring experience.
- Citizenship: You must be a legal immigrant or U.S. citizen.
- Ethics: You are required to abide by the code of ethics while employed as a legal professional.
- Background Check: Most law firms will perform a background check upon the hiring of a paralegal.
Certification Process in Kansas
Although certification is not required in the state, employers often give preference to applicants with experience in or completion of a Kansas paralegal program. Candidates who are considered the most qualified have either completed a paralegal studies program approved by the ABA, passed a national certification exam, earned a baccalaureate degree plus a year of in-house training or worked for five years under the supervision of a lawyer.
National certification can be obtained through the National Federation for Paralegal Associations (NFPA) or the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
If you’ve already obtained a bachelor’s degree, have five years of professional experience or have completed an ABA-approved program, you may take the NALP exam to become a Professional Paralegal (PP). Other applicants may take an exam from the NALA to earn the title of a Certified Paralegal (CP).
Degrees Related to Paralegals
Earning a degree accredited by the ABA can be a huge advantage in finding work as a paralegal in Kansas. Paralegal certification through at an approved college or university or an Associate of Arts degree with a paralegal concentration are both options in the state.
Major Cities in Kansas
- Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, at 386,552 residents.
- According to a 2013 census, Overland Park is second with 181,260 residents.
- The third most populous city is Kansas city, which has 148,483 people.
What Does a Paralegal Do in Kansas?
- Paralegals are known for assisting attorneys in the delivery and completion of legal services, such as preparing for trials, conducting research or writing reports.
- Paralegals are not allowed to provide legal advice or representation to clients.
- Some paralegals may work in government or insurance agencies, courts or private law firms. They may also work on a case-by-case basis with several different attorneys.
The term “legal assistant” is often used interchangeably with a paralegal. They often share similar roles and both must work under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
Employment Numbers in Kansas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,640 paralegals were employed in Kansas as of 2015.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in Kansas
Paralegals working in the state can expect an estimated yearly average of $44,370 in wages.
Kansas Related Organizational Links
- Kansas Bar Association Paralegal Guide
- Kansas Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals
- Kansas Paralegal Association