You’ve made the decision to become a paralegal in Missouri. So, what are the next steps?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you would be joining more than 4,600 paralegals in Missouri, and the numbers are ever-growing – with above average growth, projected at 28% in the next 10 years.
As the roles and responsibilities for paralegal professionals continue to grow, with support from the American Bar Association (ABA), as well as consistent development in the education, training, facilitation and representation of paralegal professionals – people feel more confident about joining this field.
ABA defines paralegals as follows: “A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”
Paralegals are expected to possess the following key qualities: Communication, computer, interpersonal, organizational and research skills – along with a passion for law.
To become a recognized paralegal or legal assistant in Missouri, there are several paths leading into this career – through work experience, certification or by acquiring a paralegal education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook mentions that gaining a paralegal education or certification is a basic requirement to become a paralegal. Meeting these requirements would help aspiring paralegals to not only strengthen their skills but become preferred by employers, enabling entry-level professionals to land internships and on-the-job training – essential for growth in this field. William Woods offers an online Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies, ideal for working adults who want to pursue a paralegal degree.
There are many associations and organizations helping people to get started with their paralegal career. Affiliated with The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the Missouri Paralegal Association (MPA) is there to serve and advance the paralegal profession, and may be contacted for further information.