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Paralegal Schools in Pennsylvania

Paralegal Schools in Pennsylvania

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As of May 2018, approximately 12,440 paralegals or legal assistants were working in the state Pennsylvania specializing in various fields from Family Law, Litigation to Probates and Estates & Trusts. A program specializing in Legal Assisting/Paralegal Studies is all you require to help prepare you for this career. A complete guide on becoming a paralegal in Pennsylvania can be found below.

Paralegal schools in Pennsylvania

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Salary expectations

Pennsylvania has an excellent record when it comes to the pay of paralegals in the United States. In fact, it goes ahead the US rates for all states. For example, the lowest paid paralegal in Pennsylvania gets about $15.11 which is slightly higher than the usual United States rate of $14.97 per hour. The same case reflects the average pay which falls at $25.00. This is a few cents higher than the stipulated rate of the United States of $24.24 average hourly salary. The highest paid paralegal in Pennsylvania though falls slightly below the United States mark of $39.03. The highest rate for a paralegal in the state is $ 38.59 which is a few cents lower than the United States highest rate.

When it comes to annual incomes, the same reflects on what the highest, lowest and averagely paid paralegal take home. The lowest yearly salary for a paralegal in Pennsylvania is about $31,420 compared to the United States rate of $31,130. It is a few hundred dollars higher which is quite significant. The highest pay annually for a Pennsylvania paralegal is about $80,180 which is slightly lower than the United States rate.

Projected employment

As much as Pennsylvania beats United States rate for the lowest and averagely paid paralegal, the growth in employment seems to be slower. In 2014, Pennsylvania recorded a total of 9,880 active paralegals. This is expected to grow with a 9 percent change to about 10,770 paralegals by the end of 2014. The numbers are high although the percent change is way lower than the general United States rate. The general United States is expected to grow the paralegal employment status to about 327,400 by the end of 2026. This will be as a result of a 15 percent change from the 285,600 recorded in 2016. The growth is quite significant and shows Pennsylvania is derailing a bit in the growth.

When it comes to the employment opportunities, Pennsylvania has an annual projection rate of 310 job openings in the paralegal field. This is a part of the projected employment positions in the United States falling at 34,700 annually. Although Pennsylvania shows slow growth in employment opportunities, it does scale up with the pay going above the estimated United States rate.

How to become a paralegal in Pennsylvania

The education background is one of the essential stages of working as a paralegal in PA. One can enroll in certificate programs, associate degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. After completing the program, one needs to get an internship which adds up to the experience.

Usually, the school will help to post for internships, but if it is not the case, one can get experience from law firms, government agencies, and other organizations. Certification follows the experience state which is optional but has a significant impact on the paralegal career. One needs to sit for the national certification exams to get the credentials. This can help you land better jobs and scoop a high salary in the process. At this point, you can start looking for paralegal jobs and join a paralegal association.

ABA-Accredited paralegal programs in Pennsylvania

Paralegal certificate programs

Associate degree programs

Bachelor degree programs

Pennsylvania requirements for paralegals

Registration

Like other states, there are a few requirements that one should meet before registering as a paralegal in Pennsylvania. On this note, the applicant should match one of the following educational requirements.

  • A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies from an ABA approved the program and one-year paralegal experience.
  • A bachelor's degree in any field from an accredited institution, a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies and one year of paralegal experience.
  • A bachelor’s degree in any field from a recognized institution and three years paralegal experience
  • An associate degree in paralegal studies and five years’ experience working as a paralegal
  • A paralegal certificate from an accredited program and five years’ experience.

Certification

Similar to other states, paralegals in Pennsylvania need to go through a certification process. It is not mandatory but places a paralegal in at a higher chance of landing high paying jobs. The process includes sitting and passing the national paralegal certification exams. They are as follows:

  • The Paralegal Advanced Certification Exam which is provided by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
  • The Paralegal Core Competency which is offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
  • The CLA/CP which is provided by the National Association of Legal Assistants
  • The PP which comes from the Association of Legal Professionals

Renewal

Renewal of a Certified Paralegal in Pennsylvania requires a minimum of 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education every two years. Also, one needs at least two of the twelve hours as ethics credits. A CP can send the application after downloading it and posting it to the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. There is also an option to apply for renewal online. The fees, however, should not be paid online and thus should be payable to Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. Members are expected to pay a $25 charge while new applicants should send a total of $100. The renewal application should be submitted not less than 30 days and not more than 60 days from the expiry date.

There is a grace period of 15 days from the last day of renewal before incurring delay fees. A late fee will apply for each 30 days period after which the renewal forms will not be accepted after 90 days. For members, a $5 charge will apply for every 30 days delay. Applicants that are not affiliated to a Keystone Alliance member association will be charged $10 for every 30 days of applications delay.

Top law firms for graduate paralegals in PA

  • White and Williams
  • Reed Smith
  • Pepper Hamilton
  • Stradley Ronon Steve and Young
  • Blank Rome
  • Duane Morris
  • Saul Ewing

Top 10 paralegal professional associations in Pennsylvania

  • 1
    Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations: The aim of this organization is to be the voice of paralegals in Pennsylvania. It creates a platform for communications, networks and professional guidance to its member associations.
  • 2
    Bucks County Bar Association: The association is one of the oldest. It aims to provide its members and individuals in the legal industry with the support, knowledge, and networks. This is for the growth and advancement of the profession.
  • 3
    Pennsylvania Bar Association: The Association, with members across Pennsylvania, aims to connect each professional in the legal field for the advancement of career. Also, the association communicates changes in regulations affecting the legal systems.
  • 4
    Pittsburgh Paralegal Association: Since conception in 1977, the association has been a pillar for paralegal support regarding professional development and continuing education. It covers the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
  • 5
    Philadelphia Association of Paralegals: The association aims to promote the paralegal profession by enhancing skills regarding education and networking among paralegals. It has members from Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
  • 6
    Montgomery County Paralegal Association: The entity provides communication and support networks for members where they can exchange ideas. With this, members can grow and develop the paralegal profession by following the right legal regulations during practice.
  • 7
    Central Pennsylvania Paralegal Association: This organization comprises of paralegals, students, other organizations and educational bodies in Pennsylvania. It lays a platform for the promotion and advancement of the paralegal profession through support and communication with its members.
  • 8
    Chester County Paralegal Association: The association has member meeting for different stakeholders to promote the paralegal profession. It serves the larger Chester County and surrounding areas.
  • 9
    York County Paralegal Association: The association has been in existence since 1992. It commits to the advancement and promotion of the paralegal profession by encouraging continuing education for its members.
  • 10
    Lancaster Area Paralegal Association: This entity has been serving paralegals around the Lancaster area since 1984. It holds meetings as a way to promote the profession and provide a platform for exchanging ideas among the members.
References

1. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry: http://www.dli.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants:https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,
Pennsylvania: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants:https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
5. American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals: 
https://www.americanbar.org/directories/paralegal-directory.html

Search Paralegal Programs

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