Paralegal Education in Idaho
Like many western states with low population density, Idaho’s paralegal field is small, but it is expanding as the state’s population grows. Idaho currently has only about 730 paralegals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who make up about 25% of all law professionals in the state. The majority of them are located in Idaho’s urban centers, such as Boise and Nampa. Thanks to a growing national trend in the legal assistant field, paraprofessional jobs are expected to increase by over 70,000 across the country in the next 6 years – a 28% increase.
The state of Idaho does not have certification or registration requirements, allowing aspiring paralegals to start their careers either in a program at an institution, or directly in the industry with on-the-job training in the workforce. However, the Idaho Association of Paralegals states that paralegals holding a certificate or degree are often given preference over those who receive only informal training. Some firms and companies may assist their paralegal employees in the pursuit of a formal certification or degree. If you’re receiving on-the-job training to become a paralegal and would like to increase your chances for increased salary and job security, consider asking your employer about educational opportunities or apply for online paralegal certification programs.
The Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) recommends that aspiring paralegals invest in a certification program that has at least 60 hours in the classroom in addition to an internship. The AAfPE also advises against taking 1-2 month long courses or classes taken online.
Paralegals attain their certificate when they pass one of the four approved certification exams. For additional clout when starting out in the job market, paralegals or paralegal students should consider joining an official paralegal organization, such as the Idaho Association of Paralegals, which can provide valuable connections, job opening lists and advice.
The median salary of paralegals in Idaho is currently about $39,000. There is an estimated 252,250 working paralegals in the state, with a rise of about 1.3% in the past year. The largest employer of paralegals is private attorneys’ offices, but the government sector provides many jobs as well. According to the Idaho Rule of Conduct 5.3, paralegals are considered legal “paraprofessionals” and must work under the direct supervision of a bar-certified lawyer. Paralegals cannot provide legal advice, and their supervising must take full legal responsibility for all professional actions taken by them while employed. Paralegals who ignore this policy risk prosecution.
|In USD as of Mar 4, 2013 (source: indeed.com)
|Paralegal in Idaho $39,000
To date, there is no single authority that regulates the paralegal profession in the US, and there is no state that provides paralegal licenses. Instead, the American Bar Association (ABA) serves to provide oversight, regulation and licenses to attorneys, as well as endorsement to colleges and programs. An approval from the ABA boosts both an institution and its students’ credibility, and many paralegal employers require a certificate or degree from an ABA-endorsed program.
School accreditation – different from an ABA endorsement – is provided by the US Department of Education. Many paralegal employers may also require applicants to carry a certificate or degree from an accredited institution. Some employers may only require one or the other, or even neither, but it’s a good idea to attend a school that is both accredited by the Department of Education and endorsed by the ABA if possible.
Idaho currently has only one school listed as approved by the American Bar Association:
University of Idaho College of Law is a public institution located in Moscow, Idaho with a branch campus in Boise that provides an Associate of Applied Sciences Paralegal Studies degree. It is the state’s only law school. Established in 1914, University of Idaho’s College of Law has held the American Bar Association since 1925.
Firms of Interest
Idaho is home to dozens of prestigious law firms, including several that have locations both nationally and worldwide. Below are just a few of these firms:
Givens Pursley LLP
601 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702