Paralegal/Legal Assistant Schools in Las Vegas, NV
Legal practice is a diverse and complex career choice that interests lots of people. Not everyone wants to devote seven to ten years of their life to go to law school and pass the bar though, so becoming an attorney is not the right choice for them.
Becoming a paralegal may be however, as doing so will allow them to enjoy a challenging legal career with a lot less schooling. Programs offered by paralegal schools in Las Vegas, NV, for example, can often be completed in less than a year.
For those who might not know, a paralegal - also sometimes referred to as a legal assistant - is a trained specialist whose job it is to assist lawyers in every aspect of their day-to-day job. This might include legal research, legal document prep, client liaison, court document preparation and more. Some paralegals even advance to manage a paralegal team of their own.
Every branch of the law - and that covers a lot, from criminal and family law to corporate and immigration law, as well as regulatory law - now employs paralegals as part of their teams. For those working as legal assistants their vocation is challenging, but it is one that most find satisfying and well paid.
Nevada does not set any formal requirements to work as a paralegal, and national certification via one of the several bodies that offer it - including the National Association of Legal Assistants - is optional. Many employers however, including most corporate law firms, prefer to hire those who have completed some form of training via paralegal and legal assistant programs.
Las Vegas Paralegal Salaries
Before enrolling in paralegal school and deciding to pursue a career as a legal assistant, it is a good idea to research the earning opportunities - as well as the potential for advancement - of such a career shift.
Overall, paralegals are well paid. With the national median annual wage at $55,020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics1, the $58,110 paid on average to paralegals in Las Vegas is slightly higher and works out to around $23 per hour.
Paralegal salaries vary according to the branch of the law chosen and experience level of the legal assistant. The lowest 10% of earners made, on average, $38,940 per annum, with the top 10% - usually experienced paralegals working in corporate law - averaged just under $81,000 annually.
Paralegal job opportunities in Nevada are following the national upward trend, and it is predicted that between 2016 and 2026 the profession will see up to 15% growth2, as more law firms and other legal entities cut costs by allowing paralegals to undertake more, and more complex, tasks under the supervision of managing attorneys.
Paralegal Schools in Las Vegas, NV
Northwest Career College
Northwest Career College is a private, for profit vocational school offering a wide range of programs to both new high school graduates and working adults. For those interested in becoming a paralegal they offer an Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies that can be completed in as little as 18 months of full-time study. The program is a hybrid offering, which means some coursework can be completed online in combination with live, on campus lectures and an externship with a local employer to gain real world experience. By graduation students should have all the knowledge and skills needed to work as an entry level paralegal and take a national certification exam should they choose to. The cost of the program is charged at a fixed rate of $25,999 which is inclusive of books and supplies. Most students make use of federal financial aid to cover their costs, although creditworthy students not qualified for such may be able to take a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae instead. To be admitted to the degree program students must be over 18, hold a high school diploma or GED and meet basic college skills requirements as set by the school.
College of Southern Nevada
The College of Southern Nevada is a traditional college offering a wide range of degree and certificate programs. For those interested in becoming a paralegal they offer both a Paralegal Associate of Applied Science Degree and Post-Degree Certificate of Achievement for those who already hold a degree in another subject. The legal component of the course is the same across both programs. The AAS Degree is a two-year program with a significant general education portion and the certificate can be completed in 12 months. Entrance to either is based on past academic performance. Those who are admitted to the program receive a comprehensive overview of legal basics and the duties of a paralegal, as well as of legal ethics and the responsibilities associated with working as a legal assistant. Classes are offered on campus in both the day and the evening, and a school arranged externship is to be completed with a local employer prior to graduation. Tuition is charged on a per-credit basis, with the lowest costs charged to local Clark County residents. These costs vary according to a student's personal and financial situation as well. 90% of the previously enrolled program participants made use of traditional financial aid and state workforce grants to fund their paralegal education.
The prestigious UNLV offers a Paralegal Certificate Program via its Continuing Adult Education Department. The program, which is offered across a number of weekends and evenings as a hybrid online and campus-based program, provides a broad overview of the role of paralegal as well as an introduction to legal research and law office common practices. It is usually completed in four months. The cost of the UNLV Paralegal Certificate Program is set at a fixed fee of $6,634, and includes books, fees and externship costs. Traditional financial aid is not available to cover the cost of the program, but some students may qualify for a Clark County workforce grant. In addition, creditworthy students can consider a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae.
State Bar of Nevada Career Center
Las Vegas Valley Paralegal Association
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-5