Becoming A Paralegal In Kentucky
Paralegals play a critical role as legal assistants to lawyers across the country. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal, there are a variety of options open to you for how to become a paralegal in Kentucky. Many universities and colleges offer professional training in paralegal studies, enabling you to obtain the education and skills you need for this field. You can also explore the possibility of getting on the job training through a qualified employer. Another option would be to combine formal education with on the job training to get the most from your efforts.
Education and Training
The training and education you receive as a paralegal will help determine your job opportunities for the future. Therefore, it is important to choose your paralegal program carefully to ensure you receive a highly qualified education in this field. Paralegal programs that are approved by The American Bar Association will ensure you receive the type of training you need for your future profession.
In Kentucky, two universities that offer paralegal programs are the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University. Both universities offer an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies upon completion of their two year curricula. The program at the University of Louisville combines general education courses with paralegal studies to balance out your education. In addition, paralegal students are required to complete a 140 hour internship program in a local law firm.
The paralegal studies degree at Western Kentucky University entails completion of a 64 credit program. This program combines general education coursework such as math, humanities, accounting and public speaking with specialized legal studies to include family, corporate, property and criminal law, legal research, trial procedures, etc. Students must also complete an internship program to obtain their degree.
Duties of a Paralegal
The responsibilities of paralegals will vary depending on their employer. In general, a paralegal’s main task is to provide legal assistance to an attorney in whatever capacity the attorney requires. You may be asked to help a lawyer prepare for an upcoming trial or hearing by researching and compiling pertinent information for the case, preparing legal documents, obtaining an affidavit, organizing case documents, etc. Other duties could involve preparation of contracts, mortgages, tax returns, trust funds, estates and more.
Job Opportunities and Salaries
Job opportunities for paralegals in Kentucky can come from a variety of sources. Paralegals may work in law offices, legal departments of corporations or government institutions. Some areas in which your services may be required include corporate law, litigation, criminal law, personal injury cases, labor law, immigration, bankruptcy, family law, real estate and more.
Employment opportunities will naturally depend on the extent of your education and training, your experience, geographic location where you live, etc. These same factors will affect what salary you receive for your paralegal services in Kentucky. The average salary of an entry level paralegal in Louisville is approximately $46,000 per year. In Lexington, this same position pays approximately $45,000 per year, while in Frankfurt, paralegal salaries start at around $43,700 per year.
Certification is not required to work as a paralegal in Kentucky, but it can make a distinct difference in your employment and advancing in your career. If you meet the education and experience requirements, you are eligible to take the certification exam from the Kentucky Paralegal Association to receive certification in the state.
As an entry level paralegal, you may also qualify for national certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants. Designations for national certification are Certified Paralegal and Certified Legal Assistant. These certifications can be obtained by passing the national certification exams. They are valid for five years, after which you must complete additional training for recertification. Experienced paralegals can apply for the designation of Advanced Certified Paralegal.