Many people in Pennsylvania are interested in a legal career, and one of the most enticing and accessible legal professions that exists is becoming a paralegal. Paralegals are legal support professionals, which means they work to assist attorneys with everyday legal duties like document writing and case research.
Pennsylvania is similar to many states in that there are no set requirements for becoming a paralegal. However, by meeting certain professional standards like getting a paralegal education and acquiring work experience, you can start your journey to a successful, rewarding career as a paralegal.
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How to Become a Paralegal in Pennsylvania
- Certification: Although voluntary, paralegals in Pennsylvania should consider becoming certified with the Keystone Alliance of Paralegals.
- Age: Be over the age of 18.
- Licensure: No licenses for paralegals exists in Pennsylvania.
- Degree: A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an American Bar Association (ABA) is advised, but there are several educational options accepted by the Keystone Alliance.
- Experience: Between one and five years of experience depending on your degree.
- Citizenship: You should be a legal resident of the United States.
- Recommendation: If you choose certification with the Keystone Alliance, you will need to provide a letter of recommendation from a licensed attorney.
- Background Check: The majority of Pennsylvania law firms will request a background check.
- Ethics: If you become certified with the Keystone Alliance, you will need to follow ethical guidelines that have been established for membership in the organization.
Certification Process in Pennsylvania
While Pennsylvania does not require paralegals to become certified, it is advisable that you become certified through the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal Program offered by the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. There are several educational/experience requirements that will make you eligible for certification:
- An ABA approved paralegal studies bachelor’s degree and one year of work experience.
- A bachelor’s degree in an field, an ABA approved paralegal studies certificate or associate’s degree and a year of experience.
- A bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited institution and three years of work experience.
- An associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a paralegal certificate and five years of experience.
- Certification through a national paralegal organization and two years experience.
If you meet one of the previous requirements, are currently employed as a paralegal and can provide a letter of recommendation from a licensed attorney, you can earn the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal.
Degrees Related to Paralegals
A paralegal studies degree is the most useful education option for anyone seeking a career as a paralegal. You should make sure that any program you choose offers important paralegal courses like legal research and legal writing.
Major Cities in Pennsylvania
- Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania. It has a population of over 1.5 million.
- Pittsburgh has 305,841 people and is the second largest Pennsylvania city.
- Allentown is third in population with 118,577 residents.
What Does a Paralegal Do in Pennsylvania?
Paralegals are responsible for a wide range of legal tasks that include writing legal documents like briefs and contracts, collecting and reviewing evidence, researching legal matters for attorneys and submitting briefs and evidence to the courts.
If you’re interested in careers that are related to working as a paralegal, a few of your top options are becoming a title examiner, a legal secretary, a claims adjuster or a legal assistant.
Employment Numbers in Pennsylvania
There were 10,860 paralegals employed in Pennsylvania in 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in Pennsylvania
Paralegals in Philadelphia can make a yearly average salary of $57,100. In Pittsburgh, the typical salary is $55,880. Allentown paralegals may make $46,010.
Pennsylvania Related Organizational Links
- Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations Certification Guidelines
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Career Information