According to an employment survey done by Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 500 paralegals in South Dakota. They present almost half of the entire legal profession in this state. If you are a resident of South Dakota and interested in becoming a paralegal, this is the right place for you. We are going to show you all the requirements and every nitty-gritty that comes with being a paralegal in South Dakota.
Though paralegal training starts at the college level, it is never complete without the internship. Fresh graduates are taken through the internship to help them gain experience and meet professionals who can help them get work references and recommendations for future employment. Most fresh paralegals are provided with adequate training on the job. The person gets a mentor who will guide him or her on various elements concerning the job. Most employers prefer training for a period not less than six months.
Aspiring paralegals must adequately prepare themselves before they are cleared to practice. At a minimum, an individual must enroll in a certificate program before being hired. Other employers may require an associate degree depending on their needs and standards. A master’s program is also an added advantage. However, any party that offers such degrees online is not approved by the American Bar Association. ABA also requires both programs to cover courses pertaining to law and ethics, legal research, legal writing, business law, family law, intellectual property and personal injury.
Apart from educational requirements, some employers require aspiring paralegals in South Dakota to have experience. The best way to get experience is through pro bono or legal aid agencies within the state.
To become a fully certified paralegal, you need to pass the Certified Paralegal (CP) as required by the South Dakota Legislature. The Certified Paralegal exam comes from National Association of Legal Assistants. It is given to those who are new in the field and are aspiring to become paralegals. It tests laws on contracts, business organizations, civil litigation and American legal system. The exams also determine the level of skills and analytical prowess of a candidate.
As mentioned above, one way to become a paralegal in South Dakota is through education. In case you decide to go the education way, you have to prepare applications to various schools within South Dakota. The schools that offer paralegal programs must get approval from ABA. They include;
• Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City
• National American University in Sioux Falls
• National American University in Rapid City
• Kaplan University
Paralegal Job Outlook
Paralegals carry out tasks such as file organization, drafting documents and research to support lawyers. Paralegals are found in most organizations, but they are more prevalent in law firms and corporate legal departments. Most of them work full time, while some work more than 35 hours a week to meet tight deadlines. The employment rate for paralegals in South Dakota is expected to grow by 8% from 2014 to 2024. It is among the careers that recorded such impressive numbers so far. The job attracts many applicants each year, and competition is expected to be high in South Dakota.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report released in March, the average annual salary for a paralegal in South Dakota is $ 43,810. This range is comparable to the average paralegal wage in from neighboring states.