Becoming a Paralegal in New Jersey
There are many ways to achieve your dream of becoming a Paralegal or Legal Assistant; however there is a minimum educational level in paralegal studies that is required. This blog post discusses the paths students can take to achieve their goals of working as Paralegal in New Jersey.
Paralegal Schools in New Jersey
Paralegal Salary Factsheet
New Jersey takes is on a whole new level as far as how much a paralegal takes home is concerned. In comparison with the United States rates, the state takes the lead ahead of the entire United States. Both hourly rates and annual income estimates are way more than the overall estimate of the United States rate for paralegals.
The lowest a paralegal takes home annually in New Jersey is $18.10 which is a few dollars more than the United States rate of $15.10. On average, a paralegal in NJ scoops about $26.81 which exceeds the United States average rate of a paralegal at $24.49. The highest pay rates at $41.50 which is more than the United States rate of $39.45. New Jersey has a front foot regarding how much a paralegal earns.
On an annual basis, the case is the same. The high pay translates to yearly income as well with the highest paid paralegal taking home $86,320. This is a few thousand dollars more than the United States annual rate of $82,050. An average paralegal gets a yearly income of $59,080 which is close to 10,000 dollars more than the United States rate.
The lowest rate annually for a paralegal working in New Jersey is much higher than the United States rate. The difference is more than 6,000 dollars which are quite impressive. What is the projected employment status in New Jersey?
In 2016, New Jersey recorded a total of 8,350 paralegals working at the time. In 10 years, the posts will have grown to about 9,660 with the percent change of 16 percent. It is lower than most states in the United States but seemingly significant considering the current numbers.
The United States as a whole expects to grow by a 15 percent change. In 2016, the United States recorded a total of 285,600 paralegals. With the changes, it expects to have active paralegals totaling to 327,400 by the end of 2026. The growth is about thrice that of New Jersey according to the rates provided.
Regarding job openings, New Jersey has annual projected openings of 1,030 paralegals. It is quite on the lower side compared to the United States projected estimate of 34,700 yearly. Even with the slow growth, New Jersey still stands as one of the states with quality paralegal employment concerning pay.
How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey
The process of attaining the paralegal title in New Jersey is similar to most other states. The experience does not play a significant role in qualifying for the posts. However, it does contribute to how well one secures a good job. The first step is attaining a certificate, associate degree or a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies.
After, completing the course, the school most likely provides internship to add to the experience. If that does not happen, one can seek volunteer work in firms and other organizations for an experience. The second step is getting certification. For you to get the NJCP certification, you must meet one of the mentioned requirements in the certification section above. At this stage, one is ready to venture into employment in law firms and organizations in the state.
How much education do most people in NJ have in the paralegal career?
Paralegal Programs in New Jersey
Paralegal Certificate Programs
- Fairleigh Dickinson University | Teaneck | Paralegal Studies Certificate | 6 months
- Mercer County Community College | West Windsor | Paralegal Certificate of Proficiency | 30 credits.
- Middlesex County College | Edison | Certificate paralegal studies.
- Union County College |- Cranford | Certificate of achievement.
Paralegal Associate Degree Programs
- Atlantic Cape Community College | Atlantic, Mays Landing, Cape May County, Paralegal Studies | (AS, AAS)
- Bergen Community College | Paramus | Paralegal Studies (AAS) | 65-66 credits.
- Brookdale Community College | Lincroft | Paralegal Studies.
- Burlington County College | Mount Laurel | Paralegal Studies.
- Cumberland County College | Vineland | Paralegal Studies | 62 credits.
- Mercer County Community College | Trenton | Paralegal Studies | 65 credits.
- Middlesex County College | Edison | Paralegal Studies | 63-66 credits.
Paralegal Bachelor Degree Programs
- Montclair State University | Montclair | BA Justice Studies Paralegal | 120 credits
New Jersey Requirements for Paralegals
New Jersey allows paralegals to work off registration and certification as long as they are under the supervision of a licensed lawyer. But, before one can start paralegal work, there are requirements to be met. The applicant has to be of legal adult age which is plus 18 years. Also, one has to be a legal citizen of the United States or authorized to work in the US.
Also, to register as a paralegal, the applicant has to have a minimum educational level in paralegal studies. On this note, the paralegal program should be approved by the American Bar Association. Prior experience in paralegal work is not necessary for registration although having gone through some form of experience can help to scale up the career once registered.
Equally, certification is not mandatory to work as a paralegal in New Jersey. However, having a certification places the candidate on a competitive level with the others helping to secure better jobs in the process. Also, some positions in the state may require certification which is a sign of competency and qualification.
The national certification programs are provided by the National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. New Jersey, however, has its certification program known as the New Jersey Certified Paralegal.
Here are the requirements to qualify for NJCP:
- Five years’ experience working as a qualified paralegal.
- An associate degree in any related field and four years’ experience as a paralegal.
- Certification from a non-ABA approved paralegal program and three years’ experience. (Some of the online Paralegal schools provide non-ABA approved programs.)
- Certification from ABA approved program and three years qualifying experience.
- Bachelor's degree and in any field and experience not less than three years
- An associate degree in paralegal studies and two years’ experience in the same.
- Earn Registered Paralegal or Certified Paralegal from PACE curriculum and two years’ experience in paralegal work.
- Bachelor's degree in any field, certification from an ABA-approved curriculum and one year experience.
- A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies and one year of experience.
A Certified Paralegal credential runs through 5 years in practice. Renewal is based on completing at least 50 hours of continuing legal education and at least 5 in legal ethics. The programs may include teaching in a paralegal program, seminars, and webinars held by NALA or other professional organizations. The PP certificate is valid for five years and renewal requires at least 75 hours in continuing legal education and at least 5 in legal ethics.
Law Firms for Graduate Paralegals in New Jersey
- Lynch Law Firm
This personal injury firm aims to provide quality services to clients across New Jersey. The attorneys have repeated experience in dealing with issues affecting individuals when the law force is needed. The areas of practice include accidents, litigation, social security disability, etc. Visit them at LynchLawyers.com
- The Epstein Law Firm
This is a full-service law firm in Bergen County. The lawyers deal with issues such as personal injury, employee mistreatment, business disputes and individual conflicts. The firm serves clients around the county and extensively towards the entire New Jersey. Visit them at TheEpsteinLawFirm.com
- Castellani Law Firm
With offices in Northfield, New Jersey, the firm serves clients around the area and beyond. The firm assists clients in solving plenty of legal issues affecting them. That is by protecting the rights of employees, resolving car accident disputes and other matters. The scope lays in personal injury, employment law and school harassment cases. Visit them at CastellaniLaw.com
- Clark Law Firm
This firm handles personal injury and accident cases such as automobile, workplace, construction, and slip and fall accidents. It has proved successful in previous cases showing a high level of client satisfaction. The firm has offices in Monmouth County, Essex County, Bergen County and Ocean County. Visit them at ClarkLawNJ.com
- Rosenblum Law Firm
The firm serves clients across New Jersey and part of New York. The two offices located in Bloomfield New Jersey seek to respond to clients queries to solve cases. The firm deals with criminal cases in any part of the state. Visit them at RosenblumLawFirm.com
New Jersey Paralegal Professional Organizations
The Paralegal Association of New Jersey
The association came into existence in 1982 with a plan to promote regulated educational standards and practice guidelines for paralegals. It also creates awareness on the advancement and enhancement of the profession. The association is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants. Also, PANJ is active in the annual New Jersey Paralegal Convention which pays keen attention to matters affecting paralegals around the state.
New Jersey State Bar Association
The association is the voice of over 18,000 members and works to support them by enhancing professionalism and encouraging participation among paralegals and other legal professionals. The association also relays information to the public concerning the profession according to the law. More to this, it helps to provide educational opportunities to its members which in turn, help to improve the service levels.
South Jersey Paralegal Association
This association has different classes of members including students, paralegals, vendors, and sponsors. The association mandate is to enhance professionalism through networking, advanced education and mentoring. It also plays a role in educating the public about changes and improvements in the profession for better service delivery.
1. Salary Data: Paralegals and Legal Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/mobile/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm
2. Employment Statistics: Paralegal and Legal Assistants, New Jersey, CareerOneStop.org
3. Colleges: AAfPE https://www.aafpe.org/