Paralegal Requirements – How to Become a Paralegal

Charlotte Miller

Updated on:


Understanding the law is an important part of being a good citizen and being a paralegal is a great way to understand the law and help people while at it. 

Becoming a paralegal is essentially being a lawyer’s assistant, so you can learn how to prepare for trials and keep tabs on your clients. So how do you become a paralegal?

Expected Duties of a Paralegal

As a paralegal, you will be expected to

  • Interview clients and answer inquiries
  • Document witnesses
  • Conducting legal research
  • They summarized depositions
  • Paralegals draft legal documents in the law firm or law clinic
  • They attend trials
  • They attend will executions

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What Are the Salary Expectations?

Well, this largely depends on the state you work in and the particular firm you practice at. On average, you can expect $55,000 a year but with things like specialization and working in very big firms, you can make up to $80,000 or more in a year. This is not a bad amount considering you will be helping out lawyers and changing people’s lives.

This is also a great starting salary in the world of law considering that many people use this as a starting point to become attorneys.

At certain firms, you can use the opportunity to specialize, earn certain certificates and get the chance to increase your earnings.

In America, some of the best states to work in as paralegals are Washington DC, Massachusetts, Colorado, and sunny California.

That said, how do you become a certified paralegal?

Take Course and Complete It

If you live in America, becoming a paralegal starts at a certified American Bar Association institution. 

Depending on the amount of time you are willing to set aside, there are three options you can take. They are:

  • Community Programs That Run For Two-Years
  • University Programs For Four Years
  • Proprietary School Programs

Anyone can become a paralegal provided they can commit to the time needed to complete the basic course. In order to qualify as a paralegal, the American Association for Paralegal Education stipulates that you need to complete one of these courses. And this is not just completing the course, you should at least have 18 semester credit hours.

These programs should include classes that cover everything from legal services to ethics and research and writing. 

Classes from places like will give you a look into what to expect in the theoretical aspect of the legal world. Under a good school, you should be well equipped with these skills as you step out of class to get into gaining experience.

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Intern For Experience

After school gives you a look into how things are running, you can now take the steps towards practicing. There are numerous law firms and clinics that are always looking for someone to help with the workload. 

Interning gives you a firsthand legal experience of the world of law. In the legal world, paralegals can learn which aspect of the legal world they want to specialize in. If this is figured out earlier, paralegals can select the firm they want to join based on this.