In Idaho, nearly one quarter of all legal professionals are paralegals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010 report. Most paralegals work in Idaho’s urban areas, including Boise and Coeur D’Alene.
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.
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