The 2016 US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment survey reported that more than 1,200 paralegals were working in the state of Nebraska, primarily in larger cities like Lincoln and Omaha. Most of those paralegals worked for private law firms, corporations and state or federal government agencies.
Nebraska defines paralegals as paraprofessional and sets forth expectations of professional conduct in Rule § 3-505.3. Under this rule, paralegals must work under the supervision of attorneys, who are obligated to instruct them in professional conduct and ethics. Supervising attorneys must also assume responsibility for their nonlawyer-employees’ professional conduct.
Nebraska does not have certification or educational requirements for those wishing to become paralegals. On-the-job training, education or a combination of the two will allow aspiring paralegals to enter the profession. However, in a competitive job market, many aspiring paralegals find that education is helpful in setting them apart from their peers.
Is There Paralegal Certification in Nebraska?
Aspiring paralegals that desire education in paralegal studies can choose from several types of programs from certificates to master’s degrees. If the program is of suitable rigor, for example offered by an accredited institution or approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), it may also aid the paralegal in becoming eligible to take the voluntary national certification exams.
Nebraska Job Statistics
Certificate programs offer focused coursework in paralegal studies, usually with few general education classes. Students who matriculate from such a program earn certificates of completion and become certificated paralegals. There are two types of certificate programs: those that require that students have previously earned a baccalaureate degree in any subject and those that accept students without higher education requirements.
Aspiring paralegals may also choose to earn a degree in paralegal studies. Degrees combine specialized paralegal education with general education requirements. Associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees programs in paralegal studies are currently available to interested students.
Paralegals who desire to distinguish themselves as qualified professionals known as certified paralegals may sit for one of the voluntary national certification exams that are offered by the national professional paralegal associations. To qualify for the exams, paralegals must meet educational and experiential requirements. Those requirements vary from exam to exam. A comparison can be found here.
Currently, there are four different exams from which to choose:
- The PACE offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The PCC 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)
An affiliate of NALA, the Nebraska Paralegal Association (NePA) has more than 200 members from across the state, including professional paralegals, students, educators and attorneys.
NePA is committed to developing the role of the professional paralegal by providing the public with information about the profession and by supporting high professional expectations. To this end, NePA provides continuing legal education (CLE), seminars, information sharing and networking opportunities, a mentoring program, and support for student paralegals or paralegals preparing to take NALA’s CLA/CP exam.
Nebraska’s paralegals may also join the Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association (RMPA), which is headquartered in Colorado but has members across Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota. The RMPA is affiliated with the NFPA and offers support to those choosing to take the PACE or PCC exams. The RMPA also works to represent paralegals from throughout the Rocky Mountains in national conversations about paralegals, and to provide networking and educational opportunities to their members.
Large law firms can be great sources of employment for paralegals. The large law firms are usually concentrated in a state’s biggest cities. In Nebraska, Lincoln and Omaha are home to several large firms, including: