As a border state with Canada, law and government take on an especially important role in North Dakota. In this state, paralegals form the backbone of a robust legal system, handling many of the complexities of law firm operations. If you want to become a vital part of the legal system, helping lawyers to prepare for trial and handle client contact and legal paperwork. Here’s how to take part in this rewarding career as a North Dakota paralegal.
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How to Become a Paralegal in North Dakota
- Certification: As with many states, certification in North Dakota is voluntary but can lead to much better jobs in the field.
- Age: You’ll need to be a legal adult to work as a paralegal.
- Licensure: North Dakota offers voluntary certification instead of licensure.
- Degree: A degree or combination of degree and certificate are required for certification in North Dakota. Paralegal programs should be 60 semester hours, or a bachelor’s degree must include 18 hours of paralegal courses.
- Experience: 1 year of on-the-job training can substitute for a portion of the education requirements. 7 years of experience as a paralegal supervised by a lawyer can replace educational requirements.
- Citizenship: You must be a legal resident of the United States.
- Examinations: National paralegal exams like PACE can help to substitute for educational requirements and can provide other important certifications.
Certification Process in North Dakota
Certification in North Dakota basically involves becoming certified at the national level and is completely voluntary, as provided for in Supreme Court Rule 5.3.
Degrees Related to Paralegals
Important degree programs that can be highly useful to, and help to obtain certification as, a paralegal can include criminal justice, law and government, law enforcement and dedicated paralegal programs, among other, similar degrees.
Major Cities in North Dakota
- Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota, with 113,658 people calling it home.
- Bismarck, capital city of the state, has 67,034 residents.
- Grand Forks is the third-most populous city with 54,932 people living there.
What Does a Paralegal Do in North Dakota?
Paralegals are essential to the functioning of our legal system. As trial law becomes more complex, the services they offer are invaluable. Paralegals research and investigate case law and the facts of current cases. They conduct office management and administrative filing, correspondence drafting, report writing, filing of briefs, exhibits, appeals and legal documents with courts. They act as a main point of contact for the law firm, advising and interviewing clients, witnesses, other attorneys and expert witnesses, and conduct a broad range of other duties that are vital to the function of a legal practice.
Careers that are related on some level to the duties of a paralegal include filing, procurement and municipal clerks, legal assistants, title searchers and examiners, executive assistants and similar fields.
Employment Numbers in North Dakota
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that by 2022, job openings for paralegals in North Dakota will increase by up to 17%. Currently there are 420 people working in North Dakota as paralegals.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in North Dakota
On average, a North Dakota paralegal will earn around $43,740 per year, but top earners in the field can pull down much more based on experience and ability.
North Dakota Related Organizational Links
- North Dakota State Bar
- Red River Valley Paralegal Association
- Western Dakota Association of legal Assistants
- National Association of Legal Statistics