How to become a paralegal in Texas
There are a variety of requirements that an individual must meet to successfully join the workforce as a Paralegal in the state of Texas. The role of a Paralegal is to be a legal assistant to lawyers. Texas paralegals are trained specifically to work in the clerical and assistant aspects. To be an effective Paralegal, the following requirements are necessary to ensure that the necessary knowledge and skills are in place.
Schooling to become a paralegal in Texas
To become a paralegal in the state of Texas, there is no specific requirement for education. It is difficult to get a job as a paralegal wthout having a background in legal studies.
There are a variety of schools that have programs for legal studies that would be beneficial to beginning a successful career as a paralegal:
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Texas A & M University
- Austin College
- Baylor University
- Texas Woman’s University
These schools are four-year programs that focus specifically on legal studies. The programs are often completed prior to becoming a paralegal or prior to entering law school. There are a variety of these schools that do have programs that are specific to the profession of a Paralegal.
Two year program in Texas to become a Paralegal
There are a variety of two-year programs beneficial for those who want to make a career as a Paralegal:
- Center for Advanced Legal Studies
- College for the Mainland
- Cisco College
While there is no specific requirement for a degree to become a Paralegal in the state of Texas, both types of these programs would be beneficial depending on overall career goals. If working as a Paralegal is the highest ambition of an individual, a two-year degree would provide the skills and knowledge necessary for this career path.
There are a variety of people who work as a Paralegal to gain further experience in the legal profession before going to law school and entering a career as a lawyer.
The State Bar of Texas highly encourages lawyers who are hoping to hire Paralegals, regardless of education, to find a paralegal with experience within the legal field. There are a variety of legal aid associations that will hire Paralegals to give such experience.
Some of the legal aid associations include:
- Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
- Lone Star Legal Aid
- Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
At these legal aid associations, Paralegals work directly under the supervision of attorneys and often hire those who are looking for this experience.
Certifications to become a paralegal in Texas
There are two options for Paralegals in the state of Texas to become certified. Certification can be beneficial in being a high-quality candidate in the search for a job as a Paralegal.
State certification is obtained through the Texas board of Legal Studies. To obtain a certification at the state level, an individual would need to complete two key steps:
- Application (Fee- $75.00)
- Examination (Fee- $180.00)
Once both steps are completed and approved, an individual is considered certified in the state of Texas. For the state of Texas, it is important to note that there is a $50.00 reporting fee annually associated with this certification.
National certification can also be obtained through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). The certification is a similar process to that of becoming certified at the state level in Texas. The process consisted of one additional step:
- Paralegal Training Program: Prices vary based on the training program chosen.
- Application ($250.00)
- Examination ($250.00)
NALA also requires annual membership dues along with the original certification fees.
Certification is not required in the state of Texas but encouraged to begin a successful career as a Paralegal. It is also important to note that there is an application fee, as well as an examination fee associated with both forms of certification.
Both certifications are renewable every five (5) years through the completion of an application, as well as with proof of continued legal education credits.
Throughout the state of Texas, the average salary of a paralegal $45,000 to $72,000. This varies based on the location of a firm within the state.
Average salaries in major cities throughout the state of Texas include:
- Austin – $35,000 – $120,000
- Dallas – $38,000 – $76,000
- El Paso – $40,000 – $60,000
- Houston -$45,000 – $75,000
- San Antonio – $45,000 – $71,000
For anyone whose goal is to become a paralegal in the state of Texas, it would be important to research the specific salaries in that area.
A career as a Paralegal can be rewarding for individuals who want to work in the legal profession. The state of Texas does not have specific requirements to become a Paralegal, but the information above does provide insight into certifications to become a highly qualified candidate for a job as a Paralegal.