How to Become a Paralegal in Missouri


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If you're interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal in Missouri, it's important to understand the role, responsibilities, and requirements associated with this profession. In this blog post, we will explore what paralegals do, where they work, the requirements to become a paralegal in Missouri, and where you can find paralegal classes in the state.

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What is a Paralegal?

A paralegal, also known as a legal assistant, is a professional who assists lawyers in their day-to-day tasks. Paralegals play a crucial role in the legal field by conducting research, drafting legal documents, organizing files, and providing support during trials and hearings. They work closely with attorneys and help ensure that legal proceedings run smoothly.

Where Does a Paralegal Work?

Paralegals have a variety of work settings to choose from. They can be employed by law firms, corporations, government agencies, or other organizations that have legal departments. Some paralegals choose to specialize in a specific area of law, such as criminal law, family law, or corporate law, which may influence their choice of workplace.

How to Become a Paralegal in Missouri?

Requirements to Become a Paralegal in Missouri

To become a paralegal in Missouri, there are both educational and legal requirements that you need to fulfill.

Education Requirements

While there are no specific educational requirements mandated by the state, most employers prefer to hire paralegals who have completed a paralegal studies program or have a degree in paralegal studies. These programs can be found at community colleges, universities, or vocational schools.

Legal Requirements

In Missouri, paralegals do not need to be certified or licensed. However, some employers may prefer to hire paralegals who have obtained certification through a professional organization, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Certification can enhance job prospects and demonstrate a paralegal's commitment to professionalism and competence.

Where Can I Find Paralegal Classes in Missouri?

If you're considering a career as a paralegal in Missouri, Dreambound is the largest platform for students to find and compare vocational training programs. Dreambound offers a comprehensive listing of paralegal classes in Missouri, including options in Kansas City (link: Paralegal Training Kansas City, MO) and St. Louis (link: Paralegal Training St. Louis, MO). By utilizing Dreambound's platform, you can easily find classes near you and make an informed decision about your paralegal education.

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Exploring a Career in Paralegal Outside Missouri

If you've been inspired to follow the path of a Paralegal but geography isn't on your side, worry not. Your aspiration to become a Paralegal is within reach in Arizona, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, or West Virginia. For those who don't find these options feasible, Dreambound enables you to effortlessly find and evaluate Paralegal classes by simply searching with a zip code. Armed with determination and Dreambound, anyone, anywhere, can achieve a career in business and office.

How do I get my Paralegal certification?

Becoming a certified paralegal can open up a world of opportunities in the legal field. It is a great way to gain knowledge and skills that are highly valued by employers. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal, here are the steps you need to take to get your paralegal certification:

  1. Research the requirements: The first step is to research the requirements for paralegal certification in your state or country. Each jurisdiction may have different requirements, so it is important to understand what is needed in your area.

  2. Choose an accredited program: Once you know the requirements, the next step is to choose an accredited paralegal program. Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain standards of quality and that the education you receive will be recognized by employers. Look for programs that are approved by professional organizations such as the American Bar Association (ABA) or the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

  3. Enroll in a paralegal program: After choosing a program, you will need to enroll and complete the necessary coursework. Paralegal programs can be completed at community colleges, universities, or online. The duration of the program can vary, but most programs can be completed in one to two years.

  4. Complete the required coursework: Paralegal programs typically include a combination of general education courses and specialized paralegal courses. The coursework will cover topics such as legal research, legal writing, civil litigation, criminal law, and ethics. It is important to successfully complete all the required coursework to be eligible for certification.

  5. Gain practical experience: While completing your coursework, it is also important to gain practical experience in the field. Many paralegal programs offer internships or externships that allow students to work in a law firm or legal department and gain hands-on experience. This practical experience will not only enhance your skills but also make you more marketable to potential employers.

  6. Apply for certification: Once you have completed your paralegal program and gained practical experience, you can apply for certification. The certification process may vary depending on the organization you choose to be certified through. Some organizations require passing an exam, while others may have additional requirements such as submitting work samples or completing continuing education credits.

  7. Maintain certification: After obtaining your paralegal certification, it is important to maintain it by fulfilling any ongoing requirements. This may include completing continuing education courses or participating in professional development activities. Maintaining your certification shows your commitment to the profession and ensures that your skills and knowledge are up to date.

How do I get a job as a Paralegal?

Once you have obtained your paralegal certification, the next step is to find a job in the field. Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting hired as a paralegal:

  1. Update your resume: Start by updating your resume to highlight your paralegal certification, education, and any relevant experience. Be sure to include any internships, externships, or volunteer work you have done in the legal field. Tailor your resume to each job you apply for, highlighting the skills and qualifications that are most relevant to the position.

  2. Network: Networking is an essential part of finding a job in any field, including the legal field. Reach out to your contacts, such as classmates, professors, and internship supervisors, to let them know you are looking for a paralegal position. Attend networking events, join professional organizations, and participate in online forums and groups to expand your network and learn about job opportunities.

  3. Search for job openings: Look for job openings on job boards, company websites, and professional organizations' websites. Many law firms and legal departments also work with staffing agencies to fill paralegal positions, so consider reaching out to these agencies as well. Set up job alerts to receive notifications when new positions are posted.

  4. Tailor your cover letter: When applying for a paralegal position, it is important to tailor your cover letter to each job you apply for. Use the cover letter to highlight your skills, experience, and qualifications that make you a good fit for the specific position. Be sure to mention your paralegal certification and any relevant coursework or practical experience.

  5. Prepare for interviews: If you are selected for an interview, take the time to prepare. Research the law firm or legal department and familiarize yourself with their areas of practice. Prepare answers to common interview questions and be ready to provide examples of how your skills and experience make you a strong candidate for the position. Dress professionally and bring copies of your resume and any relevant work samples.

  6. Follow up: After the interview, send a thank-you email or letter to the interviewer to express your appreciation for the opportunity and to reiterate your interest in the position. This small gesture can make a big impression and help you stand out from other candidates.

  7. Be persistent: Finding a job as a paralegal may take time and persistence. Don't get discouraged if you don't get hired right away. Continue to search for job openings, network, and improve your skills. Consider taking on freelance or contract work to gain experience and make connections in the field.

Career Paths and Opportunities after Becoming a Paralegal

Becoming a paralegal can open up a wide range of career paths and opportunities in the legal field. Here are some potential career paths you can pursue after becoming a paralegal:

  1. Law firm paralegal: Many paralegals work in law firms, providing support to attorneys in various areas of law. As a law firm paralegal, you may work on tasks such as legal research, drafting documents, interviewing clients, and organizing case files. You can specialize in a particular area of law, such as family law, corporate law, or criminal law.

  2. Corporate paralegal: Corporate paralegals work in the legal departments of corporations and assist with a wide range of legal matters. They may work on contracts, intellectual property, compliance, and corporate governance. Corporate paralegals often work closely with in-house attorneys and other departments within the company.

  3. Government paralegal: Government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels employ paralegals to assist with legal research, drafting documents, and administrative tasks. Government paralegals may work in areas such as criminal law, immigration law, or administrative law.

  4. Non-profit paralegal: Non-profit organizations often have legal departments that handle a variety of legal issues, such as advocacy, human rights, or environmental law. Paralegals can work in these organizations to provide support to attorneys and assist with legal research, drafting documents, and client interviews.

  5. Legal aid paralegal: Legal aid organizations provide free or low-cost legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford private representation. As a legal aid paralegal, you would work with attorneys to assist clients with legal issues such as housing, employment, or family law.

  6. Freelance paralegal: Some paralegals choose to work as freelancers or independent contractors, providing support to attorneys on a project-by-project basis. Freelance paralegals can work for multiple clients and have the flexibility to choose the projects they take on.

  7. Paralegal manager: With experience and additional education, paralegals can move into management positions, such as paralegal supervisor or paralegal manager. In these roles, you would oversee a team of paralegals, assign tasks, and ensure that work is completed accurately and on time.

These are just a few examples of the career paths and opportunities available to paralegals. The legal field is diverse, and there are many areas to specialize in and explore. Whether you choose to work in a law firm, corporate setting, government agency, or non-profit organization, a paralegal certification can provide you with the skills and knowledge to succeed.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a paralegal certification is a great way to start a career in the legal field. It demonstrates your commitment to the profession and provides you with the knowledge and skills that are highly valued by employers. By completing a paralegal program, gaining practical experience, and obtaining certification, you can increase your chances of finding a job as a paralegal.

Once you have obtained your certification, there are various career paths and opportunities available to you. Whether you choose to work in a law firm, corporate setting, government agency, or non-profit organization, a paralegal certification can open doors and pave the way for a successful and fulfilling career.

Remember to stay proactive in your job search, network with professionals in the field, and continue to develop your skills and knowledge. The legal field is constantly evolving, and staying up to date with the latest trends and developments will ensure that you remain competitive in the job market.

So, if you are passionate about the law and want to make a difference in the legal field, consider pursuing a career as a paralegal. Start by researching the requirements for certification in your area and find an accredited paralegal program that suits your needs. With dedication and hard work, you can achieve your goal of becoming a certified paralegal and embark on a rewarding career in the legal field.

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Keziah Lim
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Keziah Lim
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