In Massachusetts, many people are interested in working in the law in some capacity. However, because becoming a lawyer is expensive and time consuming, a good deal of Massachusetts citizens instead choose to become paralegals. A paralegal is a legal professional who performs almost the exact same duties as a lawyer with the exception of giving legal advice and speaking in court.
Like many states, Massachusetts does not maintain regulations for becoming a paralegal. Fortunately, for those interested in a paralegal career, there are a few easy to follow steps for entering into this exciting profession.
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How to Become a Paralegal in Massachusetts
- Certification: Massachusetts paralegals do not need to be certified to find employment in the state. However, earning certification from a national organization can improve your career prospects.
- Age: Paralegals must be legal adults.
- Licensure: Paralegals are not required to be licensed to work in Massachusetts.
- Degree: Before becoming a paralegal, it is a good idea to complete a two or four-year degree from a university or institution approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Experience: Most law firms prefer that paralegals have at least some work experience. This can be acquired during the course of an internship or through volunteer legal work.
- Citizenship: A Massachusetts resident that is a US citizen or a legal alien can become a paralegal.
- Criminal Check: You may be required by your employer to undergo a background check before becoming employed.
- Professional Conduct: Paralegals who join a paralegal organization must abide by the ethical rules for this profession.
Certification Process in Massachusetts
Similar to many states across the country, Massachusetts does not have any rules regarding paralegal certification. While there is no process for becoming certified with the state, paralegals who are serious about their career will seek certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
You can achieve NALA certification by passing an exam or by enrolling in and completing a curriculum. If you choose the exam, you will be designated a Certified Paralegal (CP). When you complete a NALA curriculum, you will receive an Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC).
Degrees Related to Paralegals
Because there are no educational requirements in Massachusetts, you do not necessarily need to enroll in a dedicated paralegal program. However, achieving an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies will better equip you for a paralegal career. Whatever educational path you choose, you should be sure to take courses in legal writing, legal research and become familiar with whatever area of the law you plan to work in.
Major Cities in Massachusetts
- Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts. 645,966 people live in Boston.
- Worcester is the second largest city in this state with 182,544 residents.
- Lowell has 108,861 residents.
What Does a Paralegal Do in Massachusetts?
A paralegal will find employment in a law firm and will perform similar legal tasks to an attorney. Primary responsibilities of a paralegal include legal document writing, research, evidence gathering and filing briefs and exhibits with the Massachusetts courts. Paralegals will also support attorneys during trials by handling exhibits and reviewing transcripts.
A few careers that are closely related to paralegals include legal secretaries, legal assistants and claims adjusters. People working in these careers will perform many of the same tasks as paralegals, especially legal assistants.
Employment Numbers in Massachusetts
In 2015, there 7,740 paralegals employed in Massachusetts. This is according the data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in Massachusetts
The average wage for Massachusetts paralegals is $52,790.
Massachusetts Related Organizational Links