Paralegal certification is not required in Nevada. However, many employers in Nevada prefer that prospective paralegals complete a certification course and fulfill an externship or internship program to gain experience, and to show competence before employment. Due to a 5.3 rule in Nevada, there is currently no requirement for paralegals to be certified.
Under this same rule, paralegals can receive training through law firms offering on-the-job training. The hiring law firm must supervise paralegals and is responsible for their conduct. As of 2014, there are at least 2,180 paralegals employed in Nevada. Many paralegals find employment in large urban areas like Las Vegas or Reno.
Obtaining education with a focus on paralegal studies is one way that prospective paralegal professionals differentiate themselves from other applicants. Employers often prefer those who have formal education. Paralegals who do find employment in Nevada have often received Paralegal Certification from one of four places:
– PCCE – A CRP, or Certified Registered Paralegal certificate is given to applicants who have successfully completed the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) given by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
– PACE – The Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam also given by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations leads to an RP, or Registered Paralegal certificate
– APC – Acronym for Advanced Paralegal Certified, this is a certification obtained by successfully passing an exam given by the National Association of Legal Assistants
– CLA/CP – A Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal certificate also awarded by the National Association of Legal Assistants
Many prospective employers in law firms prefer that paralegals have received education and certification before employment. It’s not a requirement in Nevada, but it is preferred. Occasionally, a student may find an employer who is willing to provide on-the-job training or who offers the ability to work closely with a mentor, but these opportunities may be hard to find.
Students usually test to receive certification after completing a paralegal education program. Several places in Nevada offer paralegal education including:
– Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno – Offers the only program accredited by the American Bar Association in Nevada, which is an Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal program
Other available Paralegal education programs in Nevada include those offered by:
– The University of Nevada in Las Vegas
– College of Southern Nevada
Students can also choose to participate in online certification and education programs, which lead to an Associate Degree or Bachelor’s Degree, or they can complete post Bachelor’s education programs leading to a Master’s Degree.
Some places in Nevada offer Pro Bono or volunteer legal training programs. These programs are internships or externships that give students valuable experience to add to their education. Nevada opportunities can be found through organizations like:
– Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada – In Las Vegas
– Nevada Legal Services Inc. – With offices in Reno, Las Vegas, Elko and Carson City
– Washoe Legal Services Bankruptcy Clinic – In Reno
– Volunteer Attorneys For Rural Nevadans – With an office in Carson City that serves the counties of Carson City, Humboldt, Elko, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, Mineral, White Pine and Churchill
Nevada Paralegal Job Outlook And Salary Expectations
Large and small legal firms throughout Nevada consistently look for qualified legal assistants and for certified paralegals. Jobs in specialized areas of law found most often in Nevada include those in utilities, gaming law, family law, elder law, real estate and mining law. According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, job growth for paralegals in Nevada is expected to go up about 19.5 percent between 2012 and 2022.
Paralegal salaries depend on where a person is hired in Nevada, but the median salary as of 2011 was in a range of $49,800 to $51,300. Those with education and certification are usually at the higher end of the salary range.
Joining An Association
Once a paralegal is employed in Nevada, it’s usually a good idea to join a professional association. Options in Nevada include:
– The Nevada Paralegal Association – Comprised of members practicing in the Las Vegas Valley
– Sierra Nevada Association of Paralegals – Includes members from Reno and surrounding areas. This association includes practicing paralegals, students or retired paralegals. Students may find help through this association with preparing for exams, while members find useful social and networking groups, seminars and meetings.
– Paralegal Association of Southern Nevada – This group helps promote the profession and helps paralegals progress in their careers.
Joining an association is a beneficial career move for current and aspiring paralegal professionals. Whether one becomes a paralegal in Nevada through education and certification or through on-the-job training and mentoring, the profession is expected to see continued growth and increased opportunities in the future.