Paralegal Education in Kansas
The Paralegal industry in Kansas is smaller than in more urban states, but is still stable, with the majority of jobs concentrated in the Kansas City MO/KS metropolitan area. The state is currently home to about 1,800 legal assistants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moderate growth is expected to occur, thanks to the legal industry’s trend toward hiring more paralegals to complete work traditionally carried out by lawyers. Nationwide, paralegal jobs are expected to increase by about 28%, with 70,000 jobs added within six years.
In Kansas, the current mean salary for a paralegal is about $42,240, with a mean hourly wage of $20.31. Most legal assistant jobs are provided by private law firms, though the government and large companies provide employment in the state as well.
The state of Kansas’s Rule of Professional Conduct does not define paralegals, but considers them non-lawyer assistant “paraprofessionals.” The state prohibits paralegals from providing legal advice or representing clients in court. All professional actions taken by paralegals must be under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney who is legally responsible for their legal assistants’ professional actions and conduct while employed.
Kansas does not provide any oversight or regulation of legal assistants, and paralegals are therefore not required to receive formal education or carry a certificate. Paralegals who do carry a certificate or degree, however, are often preferred by employers. Some law firms and companies may provide financial support for the pursuit of a formal paralegal certification. For some professionals, this may be the easiest route to attaining a certificate, but be sure to ask well in advance.
Prospective paralegal students may be overwhelmed or baffled by the large assortment of educational opportunities available and what each one entails. The Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) is a very helpful resource and provides great insight. The AAfPE recommends that aspiring paralegals invest in a quality program that involves both a minimum of 60 course hours and an internship. The AAfPE advises against investing in programs shorter than two months and online programs that do not have any physical, face-to-face classes.
A paralegal certificate or degree is earned when a student passes one of the four approved certification exams. The certificate will go a long way in opening up employment opportunities. Paralegal professionals and students should also consider joining an official organization, such as the Kansas Paralegal Association. Professional organizations like this one help provide valuable networking ties as well as access to exclusive job openings.
|In USD as of Feb 10, 2013 (source: indeed.com)||25k||50k||75k|
|Paralegal in Kansas $42,000|
The American Bar Association (ABA) is the official provider for regulating and endorsing law education programs and institutions. While an ABA endorsement is not necessary for a quality program, the vast majority of institutions seek to acquire the endorsement, which proves the program’s — and by extension its students’ – credibility. Many employers will require applicants to hold a certificate or degree from an ABA-endorsed program.
Unlike the ABA, the US Department of Education doesn’t endorse a specific program. Instead, it provides accreditation to worthy institutions. An accredited university or college is a school that has been proven to be legitimate and ethical. Because so many bogus online “programs” exist today, many employers require paralegals to have a certificate or degree acquired from a US Department of Education accredited institution. Other employers may have different guidelines about where paralegals receive their education, or may have no guidelines at all, 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.
Kansas currently has only one accredited school with an ABA-endorsed paralegal program:
Johnson County Community College, Overland Park is a public 2-year college located in Overland Park, Kansas. Their Paralegal/Legal Nurse Consultant Program offers an Associate in Arts degree and a Paralegal Certificate for students who have already earned a degree. The program involves 64 credit hours for the Associate degree with a minimum of 33 hours for the certificate. Internships are encouraged, but not mandatory.
Firms of Interest
Several prestigious law firms are located in the state of Kansas, with most found in Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita. Below are just a few of them:
Hinkle Law (with offices statewide)
301 North Main St.
Wichita, KS 67202
Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP (with offices nationwide)
9401 Indian Creek Parkway
Corporate Woods Building 40
Overland Park, KS 66210
Foulston Siefkin LLP (with offices statewide)
Bank of America Tower
534 South Kansas Ave.
Topeka, Kansas 66603-3436