According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of New York has over 20,000 paralegals. Over 15,000 of them are employed in the New York City and New Jersey areas. If you’re wondering what it takes to become a paralegal in the Big Apple, we’ve got good news – it’s not as difficult as you might have assumed.

Let’s dig into exactly what it takes to become a paralegal in NYC.

Paralegal Requirements in NYC

According to the American Bar Association model, attorneys are to supervise paralegals and provide instruction regarding confidentiality and ethics. Yet there is no minimum amount of training or education required by paralegals to enter the profession in New York.

The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations has been pushing for standardized education for all of the city’s paralegals. The organization suggests that all New York paralegals have a minimum of an associate’s degree in paralegal studies (or a field similar to it), a paralegal certificate or a bachelor’s degree with a focus on paralegal studies.

The Types of Paralegals Employers are Looking For

New York paralegals are not required to obtain a national certification. It is worth mentioning that paralegal training is strongly promoted throughout most of the state and there is a movement towards a New York State Certified Paralegal program.

New York City students who are formally trained in Paralegal Studies have an advantage in obtaining employment in the fast growing and rewarding legal environment in New York City and the tri-state area.

Paralegal Education Options

A paralegal certificate program is where paralegal-specific material is taught to those who may have prior college or are looking to take a shorter version of the Associate Degree program. A paralegal in possession of a certificate from an accredited institution will likely be in high demand once he or she enters the city’s job market. New York’s Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations has attempted to generate support for paralegal credentialing by way of a national certification.

There are intensive paralegal certificate programs available for those who desire advanced credentials in one year or less. There are also more extensive paralegal associate degree programs as well. These typically range from one and a half to two years or more in length.

Students who enroll in a paralegal program can take an array of classes including civil litigation, criminal law, real estate law, contract law, family law, legal research and many others. It’s a focused course of study that is ideal for those who want to carve a niche after obtaining the traditional undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

So who can call themselves a Paralegal in New York City?

One can legitimately call themselves a paralegal in New York if that is the title that their supervisor bestows upon them. Yet anyone who is interested in the field should still consider obtaining either a paralegal degree or a certificate to enhance their resume and boost the odds of getting a foot in the door.

Those who have a paralegal certificate or degree in NYC and are working in the legal field are  considered to be official paralegals within New York as well as other jurisdictions.

The Future for New York City Paralegals

Paralegals will likely be in demand for the foreseeable future. Those who obtain formal paralegal training in NYC will be especially sought after.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or perform more research about working in the field of law before choosing to enroll in a paralegal  program or any other course of study.

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