New Jersey is a bustling metropolis with the densest population and highest rate of urbanization of any state. 90 percent of New Jersey’s population lives in an urban area, and every county is classified as part of a metropolitan area. It also has one of the highest median household income levels in the country and the seventh-highest GDP of any state.
All the people and business activity means that the legal profession in New Jersey is a growing market for aspiring paralegals and legal assistance. Anyone who wants to become a paralegal in New Jersey to join the legal services trade can use the following process to become qualified and competitive for available positions:
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How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey
- Certification: New Jersey does not require certifications for someone to act as a paralegal, but employers may request certain certifications, and having a certification can also make you more competitive for higher-paying positions.
- Age: No minimum age is dictated for paralegals, but many positions require applicants to be 18+.
- Licensure: No license or registration is required to operate as a paralegal in New Jersey.
- Degree: No degree is required by law to work as a paralegal, but employers will likely request a minimum education level. New Jersey colleges and universities also have a number of popular paralegal education programs accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Experience: New Jersey does not mandate minimum experience levels, but employers may expect applicants to have experience to be competitive.
- Citizenship: All applicants to paralegal jobs should be either U.S. citizens or authorized to work in the U.S.
- Background: Employers will likely conduct a background check on all applicants they are considering for positions.
Certification Process in New Jersey
Certifications are not required to be employed as a paralegal in New Jersey, but having a certification can allow you to compete with other candidates. Some positions may expect certification to demonstrate core competency.
In addition to nationwide certification programs offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), New Jersey has its own unique certification: the New Jersey Certified Paralegal (NJCP).
To qualify, NJCP applicants have to satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
- Accrue five years of qualifying paralegal experience.
- Hold an associate’s degree in any field and accrue four years of qualifying paralegal experience.
- Earn certification from a non-ABA-approved paralegal program and accrue three years of qualifying experience.
- Earn certification from an ABA-approved curriculum and accrue three years of qualifying experience.
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any field and three years of qualifying experience.
- Have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies and two years of qualifying experience.
- Earn Registered Paralegal (RP) or Certified Paralegal (CP) credentials from a PACE-Registered curriculum — or any other national paralegal certificate — along with two years of experience.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, obtain certification from an ABA-approved curriculum and then accrue one year of paralegal experience.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies and accrue one year of experience.
Major Cities in New Jersey
- New Jersey has a number of large cities, but the city of Newark, which is just eight miles away from Manhattan, is the biggest with 277,540 residents as of 2011.
- Jersey City has the second-biggest population in the state with 250,323 residents.
- 146,427 people live in Paterson, New Jersey, enough to qualify it as the third-biggest city.
- Elizabeth’s 125,660 residents make it the fourth-largest city by population.
- The capital of New Jersey, Trenton, is also the state’s fifth-most populous city with 84,899 residents.
What Does a Paralegal Do in New Jersey?
Paralegals are able to perform tasks authorized by their supervising attorney employer, who assumes full liability for their actions. However, paralegals cannot perform activities that require “officers of the court,” and they cannot sign court documents legally except to serve as a notary witness.
The exact duties of the paralegal will vary according to their office’s practice area and its specific labor needs. Typical tasks include completing forms, assisting with paperwork organization, preparing briefings for attorneys, reviewing case law and government laws, researching discovery items and performing in various other assistive capacities.
Similar careers to paralegals in New Jersey include claims adjusters, legal secretaries, insurance claims adjuster, government clerk and compliance officer.
Employment Numbers in New Jersey
New Jersey has a fairly high number of paralegals employed. As of 2015, 7,090 individuals are employed as paralegals in the state. Of these, 2,520 are employed in the Newark metro area.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in New Jersey
According to the most recent U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, the average paralegal makes $57,220 a year in the state of New Jersey, making it the third highest-paying state on average in the U.S. for paralegals.
The Trenton area has one of the highest average pays for paralegal jobs in the country at an average of $64,560. Paralegals in the Newark metro area almost as much: $62,680 a year on average.
New Jersey Related Organizational Links
- Paralegal Association of New Jersey
- New Jersey Paralegal Convention
- South Jersey Paralegal Association
Education Programs for Paralegals in New Jersey
- Paralegal Studies, AA
- Legal Studies, BA
- Master of Divinitiy - Law Studies
- Master of Business Administration in International Legal Studies
- Master of Business Administration in American Legal Studies
- Master of Legal Studies
- A.A.S. Legal Studies
- B.S. Legal Studies