How to Become a Paralegal in Missouri (Steps and State Requirements)

Have you ever considered a rewarding career as a paralegal in the vibrant state of Missouri? With its diverse legal landscape and numerous educational opportunities, Missouri offers an exciting path for those looking to join the legal profession. In this blog post, you’ll learn about the various pathways and how to become a paralegal in Missouri, including formal education and certification options. So, buckle up and let us guide you through the ins and outs of launching a successful paralegal career in the Show-Me State.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Missouri offers numerous pathways for aspiring paralegals to gain formal education and certification.

  • Paralegals in Missouri can expect a secure job market with an average salary of $53,110 per annum and projected growth of 16.1% through 2026.

  • Professional development opportunities such as networking events are available to stay up-to-date on industry trends from Missouri paralegal associations.

Missouri Paralegal Pathways

There are numerous avenues in Missouri for those looking to become paralegals. With prominent regional law firms like Thompson Coburn LLP, Bryan Cave LLP, and Armstrong Teasdale LLP, the state’s legal landscape is vast and diverse. Aspiring paralegals looking to impress both public and private law offices should consider gaining a formal education in paralegal studies and acquiring knowledge in substantive and procedural law.

Through paralegal education, candidates can explore a variety of practice areas such as criminal law, corporate law, and government agencies. The marketability and demonstration of commitment to the paralegal profession can be strengthened through certification options offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), as well as by pursuing continuing legal education.

Paralegal Education in Missouri

In Missouri, a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework in legal core competencies is required for a paralegal education, with an ABA/AAfPE-approved program being highly recommended. The Missouri Bar Association has released a position paper titled “Practicing with Paralegals”. It encourages educational requirements for paralegals and suggests members should hire those who have either a paralegal certificate or have completed a legal assistant program. ABA approval is a mark of program quality that is highly regarded by many employers, ensuring that students receive comprehensive legal education to prepare them for their careers.

Paralegal programs in Missouri provide a range of degree options such as:

Drury University, for example, offers an Associate of Science in paralegal studies, providing students with a solid foundation in legal studies and preparing them for a successful career in the legal field.

Certification Options

Certification forms a significant part of a paralegal’s career, given that Missouri law firms generally favor certified applicants. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offer certifications for paralegals in Missouri, providing them with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the profession and enhance their marketability.

Achieving Certified Paralegal status through NALA can be accomplished by passing a certification exam or by completing a specialized legal curriculum. Similarly, it is possible to achieve Certified Paralegal status through NFPA by successfully completing the certification exam. These certifications not only validate a paralegal’s knowledge and skills but also serve as a testament to their dedication to the profession.

Paralegal Programs and Schools

With a plethora of paralegal programs and schools, Missouri ensures that future paralegals have access to the necessary education for career excellence. Whether you’re seeking an ABA-approved program or considering an online option, Missouri offers various opportunities for individuals to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the paralegal profession.

Paralegal programs in Missouri provide students with the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary

ABA-Approved Programs

ABA-approved programs, such as those offered by Missouri Western State University and St. Louis Community College, provide comprehensive legal education that meets the American Bar Association’s standards of quality. Missouri Western State University is situated in St. Joseph, Missouri. It offers a wide range of degree programs to help students reach their career goals. Joseph, offers a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a legal studies emphasis, an Associate of Science in legal assisting, and a legal assistant certificate. Students enrolled in these programs are exposed to a range of practical skills. This includes legal research, interviewing, investigation and preparing evidence for trial, all under the guidance of the American Bar Association.

St. Louis Community College offers a certificate of proficiency in legal studies for paralegals at 2 different campuses, Florissant Valley and Meramec. This certificate requires 30 credit hours of study. The courses cover:

  • Fundamental legal vocabulary and practices applicable to Missouri

  • Statutes, cases, legal proceedings before and during trial

  • Development of paralegal abilities

Online Paralegal Programs

Online paralegal programs offer flexibility for students who may have other commitments or prefer to study at their own pace. Webster University and William Woods University are examples of institutions that offer online paralegal programs in Missouri. Webster University’s Master of Arts in legal studies program focuses on the fundamentals of legal reasoning and analysis, while its graduate certificate in paralegal studies covers practical skills such as legal research and writing, ethics of the legal profession, and advanced topics like consumer law, juvenile law, probate, bankruptcy, and computers and the law.

William Woods University offers criminal justice classes that provide an additional layer of knowledge valuable to those aspiring to work in criminal defense or in a prosecutor’s office. The flexibility and convenience of online paralegal programs allow students to:

  • Balance their education with other personal and professional commitments

  • Learn at their own pace

  • Access course materials from anywhere with an internet connection

  • Interact with instructors and classmates through online discussion boards and virtual classrooms

These benefits make enrolling in an online paralegal program an attractive option for many aspiring paralegals.

Roles and Responsibilities of Missouri Paralegals

In Missouri, paralegals are referred to as “paraprofessionals” as per Rule 5.3. They must be monitored by a lawyer at all times. As vital members of the legal team, paralegals in Missouri are responsible for a variety of tasks that contribute to the smooth functioning of law firms and other legal organizations. Their duties include:

  • Contract/brief writing

  • Evidence gathering

  • Legal document research

  • Trial preparation

Given the diverse nature of the legal field, paralegals may also specialize in specific practice areas such as criminal law, corporate law, or government agencies. No matter their area of specialization, paralegals are integral to the legal process, providing vital support to attorneys in serving their clients and managing the intricacies of the legal system.

Legal assistant jobs are quite similar to paralegal work, with both roles involving the performance of tasks such as legal research, document review, and legal writing. Legal assistants can pursue similar opportunities as paralegals, as well as other related fields. In Missouri, various legal assistant careers are available, including Legal Assistant, Paralegal Assistant, Legal Secretary, Law Assistant, and Administrative Assistant.

Individuals with a background in legal assisting can also explore opportunities in related disciplines such as legal research, document review, and legal writing. These fields offer a range of career options for legal professionals who are seeking to broaden their skillset and expand their career horizons, including working with legal documents.

Job Market and Salary Outlook for Paralegals in Missouri

Paralegals in Missouri can look forward to a promising job market and salary outlook. According to the May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for paralegals in Missouri is $53,110 per annum. Notably, higher incomes are reported in larger cities like St. Louis, where the concentration of paralegal jobs is highest.

Furthermore, job growth for paralegals in Missouri is projected at 16.1% through 2026, indicating a positive outlook for aspiring legal professionals in the state. Given the increasing demand for proficient paralegals, now is an opportune time to embark on a paralegal career in Missouri.

Missouri Paralegal Associations and Networking Opportunities

Several paralegal associations in Missouri offer valuable networking opportunities, educational resources, and professional development for their members. The Missouri Paralegal Association (MPA), affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), addresses matters pertinent to paralegals at both state and federal levels. NALS of Missouri, an affiliate of NALS, has several local chapters and offers networking opportunities for paralegals in the state.

The Saint Louis Paralegal Association (STLPA) is an affiliate of the National Association for Legal Assistants (NALA), while the Kansas City Paralegal Association (KCPA) offers four levels of membership, each with varying benefits and discounts. By joining one of these paralegal associations, legal professionals can access invaluable resources, networking opportunities, and stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and developments.

Tips for Launching Your Paralegal Career in Missouri

Initiating a rewarding paralegal career in Missouri requires comprehensive research and meticulous planning. Begin by researching various paralegal programs and schools in the state to find the one that best suits your needs and career aspirations. Consider factors such as accreditation, curriculum, and program format (online or on-campus) when making your decision.

Networking through paralegal associations and seeking opportunities in large law firms located in St. Louis and Kansas City can also be beneficial for aspiring paralegals. With approximately 4,630 paralegals employed in Missouri in 2018, the state offers numerous opportunities for individuals passionate about the legal profession to build a successful career.


In conclusion, Missouri offers a wealth of opportunities for individuals seeking to launch a successful paralegal career. From comprehensive paralegal education programs and certification options to numerous job opportunities and networking resources, the state provides aspiring paralegals with the tools and support they need to excel in the legal profession. By carefully considering your education and career goals, networking through paralegal associations, and seeking opportunities in the vibrant legal hubs of St. Louis and Kansas City, you can pave the way for a rewarding and fulfilling paralegal career in the Show-Me State.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a paralegal in Mo?

In Missouri, becoming a paralegal typically requires at least 15 hours of paralegal studies and completion of either an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree from any discipline.

Is a paralegal certificate required in Missouri?

No legal requirement exists for paralegals to have a certification in Missouri; however, earning one can make them stand out from other job candidates. Further, candidates should be at least 18 years of age and are encouraged to pursue an education in paralegal studies.

Where can I get a paralegal certificate in Missouri?

If you’re looking to get a paralegal certificate in Missouri, consider comparing programs offered through the National Center for Paralegal Training or Avila University. Both offer specialized curriculums with a focus on legal analysis, research and writing, litigation, and other skills necessary for success in the field.

What are the educational requirements for becoming a paralegal in Missouri?

To become a paralegal in Missouri, it is recommended to pursue an education in paralegal studies.

Are there online paralegal programs available in Missouri?

Yes, there are online paralegal programs available in Missouri, such as those offered by Webster University and William Woods University.

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