Have you ever considered a career in the legal field but are unsure where to start? The paralegal profession might just be the perfect fit for you. With diverse educational pathways, certification options, and exciting job prospects, Louisiana offers a promising landscape for aspiring paralegals. Let’s delve into the world of paralegal opportunities in Louisiana and discover how to become a paralegal in Louisiana, so you can embark on a fulfilling career in this dynamic field.
What you’re about to learn in this guide:
Louisiana offers multiple pathways and educational options for aspiring paralegals, including certification through the Louisiana State Paralegal Association (LSPA).
Gaining experience in the field can be achieved through various methods such as obtaining a degree or certificate, participating in internships or job opportunities.
The paralegal job market is expected to grow at 18% with an average annual salary of $50,540. Professional associations offer networking opportunities and resources for those interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal.
Louisiana Paralegal Pathways
In Louisiana, the paralegal profession covers a wide range of legal assistants, from legal researchers to document preparers. Aspiring paralegals have several pathways to enter this profession, including formal education, certification, and gaining experience in the field. Legal professionals, such as legal assistants, play a crucial role in the legal industry.
A paralegal education can showcase your abilities to law firms in both public and private sectors of business law.
Louisiana offers a variety of paralegal degree options, such as two-year and four-year degrees, as well as certificate programs for those with prior education or work experience. For instance, the Louisiana State University paralegal program allows students to choose between studying part-time for 30 months or full-time over the span of one year, complete with a compulsory internship program.
Another option is the Bachelor of Science in legal studies bachelor’s degree program at Herzing University, which requires 126 semester credit hours and prepares students for professional positions like paralegal, law office manager, and paralegal manager. Herzing University admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin, ensuring a diverse and inclusive learning environment. A high school diploma is a common prerequisite for enrolling in such programs.
The Louisiana State Paralegal Association (LSPA) offers a certification process for paralegals. This process is based on the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)’s credentialing process. To obtain a Louisiana Certified Paralegal (LCP) certificate, one must take both the LCP exam and the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) exam provided by NALA.
Paralegals who have not yet passed the CLA/CP may be eligible to take the LCP exam, but they are not permitted to refer to themselves as LCPs until they have successfully completed the CLA/CP within a period of three years following the passing of the LCP.
Securing LCP certification indicates to potential employers that a candidate possesses the requisite skills and experience for success in the role, setting them apart from other paraprofessionals.
Acquiring experience is pivotal in carving a successful paralegal career. This can be achieved through avenues such as:
Obtaining a degree or certificate in paralegal studies
Participating in internships or job opportunities
Procuring certification if desired
Obtaining on-the-job training through employment or working for an attorney
Aspiring paralegals can pursue these opportunities to gain valuable experience in the field.
The more experience you gain, the better equipped you’ll be to navigate the complexities of the legal field and advance your career.
ABA-Approved Paralegal Programs in Louisiana
The American Bar Association (ABA) is a well-respected organization that approves paralegal programs, ensuring quality education for students. In Louisiana, ABA-approved paralegal programs can be found at Nunez Community College, Tulane University, and Loyola University New Orleans.
Enrolling in an ABA-approved associate’s degree program can confer a significant edge to aspiring paralegals, reflecting their dedication to quality education and compliance with industry standards.
Nunez Community College
Nunez Community College, a two-year public college located in Chalmette, Louisiana, offers an ABA-approved paralegal program. The program provides hands-on practicum and courses in legal research, writing, and litigation, equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the paralegal field.
The Paralegal Studies program at Nunez Community College teaches paralegals to work under the guidance of attorneys in various contexts, such as law firms and insurance companies. They offer both an Associate of Arts degree program and a paralegal studies certificate program in Paralegal Studies.
Tulane University offers an ABA-approved paralegal studies program. It is an Associate of Arts program which consists of 60 credit hours, followed by an internship. Out of these 60 credit hours, 30 are specifically related to the paralegal field. The program offers flexible scheduling options, allowing students to balance their education with other commitments, and courses are taught by practicing lawyers and working paralegals.
This ensures that students receive a practical and relevant education, preparing them for success in the paralegal profession.
Loyola University New Orleans
Loyola University New Orleans, a private Jesuit university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, offers an ABA-approved paralegal certificate program. The program focuses on practical legal skills and professional development, providing courses in:
By completing this rigorous program, students will be well-prepared to excel in the paralegal field, armed with the knowledge and skills necessary to support attorneys in various legal settings.
Non-ABA Approved Paralegal Programs in Louisiana
While ABA approval is a mark of quality, there are also non-ABA approved paralegal programs in Louisiana that offer valuable education and training. Schools like Baton Rouge Community College, Bossier Parish Community College, and Grambling State University provide paralegal programs that, while not approved by the ABA, still offer students a solid foundation in paralegal studies.
These non-ABA accredited programs often exhibit more lenient admission criteria and could be more economical than their ABA-endorsed counterparts. Nonetheless, thorough research of these programs is crucial to align them with your educational and career aspirations, given that some employers may favor candidates who have accomplished an ABA-approved program.
Online and Hybrid Paralegal Programs in Louisiana
For those seeking flexibility in their paralegal education, online and hybrid paralegal programs in Louisiana are available. Institutions like Northwestern State University and Tulane University offer online and hybrid options, providing a convenient way for working students to complete their paralegal studies. These programs can be more cost-effective than traditional on-campus programs, and the online format allows students to work at their own pace and on their own schedule.
However, it remains crucial to validate that the online or hybrid program you select is accredited and acknowledged by the legal fraternity. As with any paralegal program, comprehensive investigation is required to ascertain whether the program aligns with your educational and career objectives.
Paralegal Salaries and Job Outlook in Louisiana
The paralegal profession in Louisiana is on the rise, with the Louisiana Workforce Commission projecting an impressive job growth rate of 18 percent for paralegals within the state until 2022. This growth rate is slightly higher than the national average of 15%, indicating a promising job market for paralegals in Louisiana. As of May 2018, the average annual salary for paralegals in Louisiana was $50,540, making it an attractive career choice for those interested in the legal field.
With approximately 4,550 paralegals currently employed in the state, there is a steady demand for qualified paralegals to support the legal community. The projected average annual number of openings, including replacements, for paralegals in Louisiana from now until 2026 is approximately 510, further emphasizing the promising job outlook for aspiring paralegals in the state.
Professional Associations and Networking Opportunities
Membership in professional associations and participation in networking events serve as effective strategies for Louisiana paralegals to maintain ties with the legal community and propel their careers forward. The Louisiana State Paralegal Association (LSPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) are two such organizations that provide valuable resources and networking opportunities for paralegals in the state.
Membership in the LSPA offers benefits such as workshops, seminars, and access to paralegal-specific continuing legal education (CLE) courses, ensuring that members stay informed of current legal matters. Additionally, networking opportunities with state and national legal organizations can help paralegals build relationships and advance their careers. The LSPA provides four classes of membership: Honorary Member, Active Member, Associate Member, and Student Member.
Key Skills and Responsibilities of a Paralegal
A successful paralegal must possess a variety of skills and fulfill various responsibilities. Some of the primary skills and duties of a paralegal include:
Conducting legal research
Liaising with clients
Overseeing case management
Legal research is the process of researching and analyzing legal issues and laws to provide advice and support to lawyers. Document preparation involves the creation, editing, and formatting of legal documents such as pleadings, motions, and briefs.
Client communication is another vital dimension of the paralegal role, as it guarantees that all parties involved in a case remain well-informed and current on the progress of the case. Case management involves managing the day-to-day tasks related to a case, including filing documents, arranging hearings, and preparing for trial. By mastering these skills and fulfilling these responsibilities, paralegals can excel in their careers and provide invaluable support to the legal community.
In conclusion, Louisiana offers a wealth of opportunities for aspiring paralegals, with various educational pathways, certification options, and a promising job outlook. Whether you choose an ABA-approved program or a non-ABA approved option, online or on-campus, the key is to find the program that best suits your needs and career goals. With the right education and experience, you can become a valuable asset to the legal community, contributing to the success of law firms, corporations, and government agencies across the state.
Take the first step towards a rewarding and fulfilling career in the paralegal profession by exploring the many resources and opportunities available in Louisiana. With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to ongoing professional development, you can achieve success as a paralegal in the vibrant legal community of Louisiana.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is paralegal school in Louisiana?
Paralegal school in Louisiana can be completed in 1 year if enrolled full-time, or 2 1/2 years if enrolled part-time.
Do you need a degree to be a paralegal in Louisiana?
No formal education is required to become a paralegal in Louisiana; however, the Louisiana State Paralegal Association does offer a certification program based on NALA credentialing.
Does LSU have a paralegal program?
Yes, LSU offers a Paralegal Studies Certificate Program that is ABA-approved and provides the resources of the university combined with the support of a student-friendly program.
Are there ABA-approved paralegal programs in Louisiana?
Yes, there are ABA-approved paralegal programs in Louisiana offered by Nunez Community College, Tulane University, and Loyola University New Orleans.
What is the average annual salary for paralegals in Louisiana?
The average annual salary for paralegals in Louisiana as of May 2018 was $50,540.