Paralegal Education in Minnesota
A paralegal career is an exciting one offering a great deal of variety within the field itself and many specializations and niches into which one can settle. From insurance paralegal, to patent paralegal, nurse paralegal to immigration paralegal, there are many avenues to traverse. Growth of the job market is excellent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and will continue to expand at least until 2018, added over 250,000 thousand jobs to the market. Clearly, with so much potential, it’s good to start planning entry into the field now. In a competitive atmosphere, the best way to distinguish yourself is with qualifications, educational background, and training. Certification and the proper attention to school and program details will help.
According to Minnesota laws, paralegals cannot accept legal fees for the their work, offer legal advice, try cases in a court of law, practice law, or portray themselves as attorneys. They can, and do, interview witnesses, prepare materials for trial, research law, prepare legal documents, interpret legal documents, and many other tasks previously reserved for lawyers. They are indispensable, hard working professionals and part of a legal team. Their conduct and ethics are the responsibility of the attorney under whom they are employed.
|In USD as of Feb 21, 2013 (source: indeed.com)
|Paralegal in Minnesota $43,000
Certification versus Certified
Minnesota has no educational requirements a paralegal must meet before taking the legal assistant position; anyone hired under the capacity and title of paralegal can be one, with on the job training as an option. Many employers, however, have their choice of capable potential employees and most will opt for someone with experience and training over someone with only good intentions and a drive to learn. Certification is where one earns a degree, either two year or four year, or when someone who already has a four year degree in any given discipline goes back to school for course-specific classes and earns a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.
To become a Certified Paralegal, Minnesota accepts the passing of one of four exams that are sponsored by one of three national paraprofessional associations. These associations exist to further promote ethics and professionalism across the field. The four exams are as follows:
- PACE and PCC, both sponsored by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- CLA/CP sponsored by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- PP sponsored by the Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
The Minnesota Paralegal Association is affiliated with the NFPA, so many Minnesotan paralegals take the PACE or PCC. Requirement and background for the exams do vary, so please see the chart located here. It is also recommended all aspiring paralegals/legal assistants join such an organization either local or national. This is beneficial to the paralegal in a number of ways and shows a serious dedication to the field and work ethic, both to the employer and other paraprofessionals.
Institutes of Higher Learning
Again, with no authoritative body to preside over the field there are no hard and fast rules regulating what a paralegal needs to know or where they must school. An accredited college or university would be exceedingly wise, but it is also recommended for the legal fields that an ABA approved school or course also be entered into as opposed to only Department of Education accredited. The American Bar Association approves of schools or programs that meet or exceed their stringent guidelines. Graduating from such a course may help distinguish a paralegal from among her peers.
Minnesota has five ABA approves schools:
Hamline University in St. Paul is a private, four-year school offering a Bachelor of Arts in paralegal studies and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate. The Certificate takes about nine months to complete and the BA takes the standard four years. Internships are required for graduation. Minnesota’s oldest University, this school also offers full time placement after graduation.
Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights offers a two year Associate Degree in a Legal Assistant Program. Contact school to find out more.
Minnesota State University Moorehead in Moorehead offers a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Paralegal Studies. This school accepts Associate degree transfers, so completion may be in as little as two years if liberal studies have been previously completed. Internships are mandatory.
North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park is a two-year, public school offering an Associate in Science degree or a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies. The Post-BA certificate can be completed in as little as 12 months and internships are required for both.
Winona State University in Winona offers a Baccalaureate degree in Paralegal Studies. Contact school to find out more.
Potential Law Firms
While law firms are not the only sources of employment, they are rather obvious ones. Below follows a truncated list of large law firms in Minnesota.
Leonard, Street and Deinard
150 South Fifth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
3800 Eighth Street North
St. Cloud, MN 56303
Briggs and Morgan
2200 IDS Center
80 South Eighth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
W2200 First National Bank Building
332 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi
800 LaSalle Avenue
2800 LaSalle Plaza
Minneapolis, MN 55402-2015
Lindquist and Vennum
4200 IDS Center
80 South 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Important Paralegal Contacts
- NFPA affiliated Minnesota Paralegal Association (MPA)
- NALA affiliated Red River Valley Paralegal Association (RRVPA)
[qs_listing state=”MN” campustype=”both” areaofinterest=”CRIMINAL-JUSTICE-LEGAL-SAFETY”]