Idaho has always been a national player for its strong GDP (about $77 billion as of 2021, according to Forbes) in relation to its population (just 1.85 million in 2021). A strong economy, of course, equates to an equally strong legal services field which, in turn, means exciting opportunities for the paralegals who call Idaho home.
From corporate players like Albertsons in Boise, Panera Bread in Nampa, and Micron Technology in Boise to governmental agencies like Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc. to nonprofits like the Community Council of Idaho and Idaho Legal Justice to law firms like Holland & Hart LLP and Eberle Berlin in Boise, Idaho is home to exciting opportunities for paralegals.
Learning how to become a paralegal in Idaho means achieving the right education, credentials, and practical skills that will make you a valuable addition to the profession.
Idaho Rule 5.3 includes paralegals in the category of legal “paraprofessionals.” As such, they must work under the supervision of a lawyer and lawyers must accept responsibility for their professional conduct of their paraprofessional employees. Members of the Idaho Bar Association have adopted voluntary guidelines that define the lawyer-paralegal relationship and clarify the supervisory responsibilities of the lawyer.
As Idaho does not require paralegals to be certified or registered, aspiring paralegals may choose between entering the job market directly through employment that provides on-the-job training or by pursuing paralegal education. According to the Idaho Association of Paralegals, job candidates are often given preference if they have a degree or have attended an American Bar Association (ABA) approved program.
Is There Paralegal Certification in Idaho?
Several levels of education are available to paralegals: certificate programs, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. Each of these educational pathways can help aspiring paralegals not only prepare for their professional career but also help them meet eligibility for national certification. It is important to thoroughly research programs as they may or may not be offered by accredited school and may or may not be recognized by the ABA.
Completion of an educational certificate program makes one a certificated paralegal. Certificate programs can be useful for those with no prior education who wish to immerse themselves solely in paralegal studies without general education classes. Certificate programs are also offered for aspiring paralegals who hold a degree in another field and want to add an additional focus to their studies. Instead of completing a second bachelor’s degree, they can earn a certificate in paralegal studies.
|Idaho Job Statistics|
Certificated paralegals are not the same as certified paralegals, who have passed a national certification exam.
Currently the three professional paralegal organizations offer four national exams from which paralegals may select:
- The PACE offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The PCCE also offered by National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The CLA/CP offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- The PP offered by the Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
The national certification exams are offered to paralegals with education, work experience or a combination of both who want to distinguish themselves within their field. Requirements for the national exams differ between the three national paralegal organizations. A comparison can be found here.
Idaho Association of Paralegals
The Idaho Association of Paralegals was established in 1980 with the goal of offering education, professional development, networking and growth opportunities for paralegals in Idaho. Members of the IAP volunteer as mentors to aspiring paralegals and donate their services to the community through pro bono work. Raising the standard of professionalism is important to the IAP, and they work to accomplish this through educational luncheons, twice yearly seminars and ongoing offering of continuing legal education.
This association offers four levels of membership:
- Active Membership – To qualify for Active Membership you must be currently employed in Idaho and have at least six points according to the following, with no more than five points derived from education or work experience alone (a combination is necessary):
- Graduate degree – five points
- Bachelor’s degree – four points
- Graduation from an ABA-approved paralegal program – three points
- Associate degree in paralegal science – two points
- Graduation from a non-ABA-approved paralegal program – two points
- National Association of Legal Assistants’ (NALA’s) Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) credential, formerly referred to as CLAS – two points
- Associate degree – two points
- Two years of college with no degree – one point
- Work experience as a paralegal – one point per year
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) credential from NALA – one point
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)’s Registered Paralegal (RP) credential – one point
- Active-Status-Pending Membership – You can qualify for this if you meet all of the Active Membership requirements except for any of the following:
- You lack one full year of work experience
- You are relocating from another state and have not yet secured employment in Idaho
- You’re a graduate of an ABA-approved paralegal program but have not secured work or acquired enough work experience for Active Membership
- Student Membership – Open to students enrolled in a paralegal program in good standing
- Supporting Membership – Open to any member in good standing of a bar association and paralegal educators
According to the Idaho Association of Paralegals’ membership statistics, 40% of IAP paralegals work for private law firms, 25% work in corporate law, 23% work in government positions and the remainder work in other businesses. Most law firm positions are concentrated in the larger cities like Boise. Idaho law firms that employ paralegals include:
- Jones & Swartz PLLC
- Parsons Behle & Latimer
- Dykas, Shaver & Nipper
- Hawley Troxell
- May, Rammell &Thompson, Chartered
- O’Connor Law, PLLC
- Gulstrom, Henson & Petrie, PC
- Perkins Coie LLP
Important Contacts for Paralegals
- Idaho Association of Paralegals (IAP), not affiliated with any national organizations
- Idaho State Bar Association
- Idaho State Bar – Model Guidelines For The Utilization Of Legal Assistant Services
- Idaho Secretary of State
- Idaho State Judiciary
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary, growth, and job market trends for paralegals and legal assistants. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed December 2021.