Paralegal Education in Maine
Maine isn’t the most populated state in the Union, yet it is one of the few that can boast a paralegal saturation almost equal to that of its lawyers. Clearly, Maine knows the value of legal assistants and celebrates it unabashedly. The terms ‘paralegal’ and ‘legal assistant’ appear synonymous in this state where both are defined as “a person, qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by an attorney, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which an attorney is responsible.” Maine will aggressively prosecute those found performing the duties of a paralegal outside of context or improperly by slapping them with a $1,000 fine. This includes dispensing legal advice, or not being forthright about status as a nonlawyer to clients.
As indicated by the definition, one can become a paralegal as long as one is given the job opportunity to receive in-the-field training. More common is to obtain a degree in legal studies such as an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree in criminal law, or receive certification for a Post-Baccalaureate course in paralegal studies. Juris Doctorates and Master’s degrees are also highly prized. While Maine has no authoritative body over paralegals and there are no minimal educational requirements to becoming one, it is nonetheless highly recommended that a formal education is pursued.
The addition of education assures an employer that the paralegal takes her tasks seriously and has the training and understanding to be of value immediately. It is also true that while the state demands no specific education on behalf of the paralegal, those seeking to hire might. Gaining a degree or certification bolsters a legal assistant’s attractiveness as an employee to a firm or agency.
There are over 600 paralegal and criminal law programs offered in the United States both online or on campus; not all of them are from American Bar Association (ABA) approved schools or even accredited schools, the latter of which is where the Department of Education has offered its stamp of approval. ABA-approved programs are the optimum choice for an aspiring paralegal for several reasons, not the least of which is qualification to certain exams that offer the title of certified paralegal. To become certified in a state, there are four national level voluntary exams sponsored by three national paralegal associations. See qualifications chart for minimum requirements before sitting for an exam.
- The PACE exam offered by NFPA, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- The PCC exam also offered by NFPA, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- The CLA/CP exam offered by NALA, the National Association of Legal Assistants
- The PP exam offered by NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals
|In USD as of Feb 18, 2013 (source: indeed.com)||25k||50k||75k|
|Paralegal in Louisiana $42,000||
Educational Establishments and Local Associations
In Maine itself there are currently no ABA-approved schools. There are also no local paralegal or legal assistant associations. However the MTLA, or Maine Trial Lawyers Association, will accept the membership of a paralegal, legal assistant or legal clerk if the employing entity or person is first a member of the MTLA. Such association affiliation is recommended to promote the professionalism of the field, to help the associate with networking, job banking, keeping abreast of current law climes and changes, and mutual support.
Maine’s closest neighbor state, New Hampshire, has one ABA approved technical college in Concord:
The New Hampshire Technical Institute offers a paralegal studies program.
Firms of Interest
Law firms tend to hire many paralegals to assist trial lawyers in research and preparation, interviewing witnesses, interpreting or preparing legal documents and a myriad of other tasks. Below is a small sampling of firms in Maine who are known to hire entry-level paralegals.
Eaton Peabody has four offices in Maine with Bangor being its primary office:
80 Exchange Street
Bangor, ME 04401
Tele: (207) 947-0111
Fax: (207) 942-3040
77 Sewall Street # 3000
Augusta, ME 04330
Tele: (207) 622-3747
Fax: (207) 622-9732
167 Park Row # 1
Brunswick, ME 04011
Tele: (207) 729-1144
Fax: (207) 729-1140
204 Main Street
Ellsworth, ME 04605
Tele: (207) 664-2900
Fax: (207) 667-3550
Pierce Atwood has two offices, one in Augusta and one in Portland, Maine:
77 Winthrop Street
Augusta, ME 04330
254 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101
Richardson, Whitman, Large & Badger has two office; one in Portland, one in Bangor:
465 Congress Street, P.O. Box 9545,
Portland, Maine, 04112-9545
email: [email protected]
One Merchants Plaza, P.O. Box 2429
Bangor, Maine, 04402-2429
email: [email protected]