In 2011, more than 1600 paralegals were employed in Nevada, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of Nevada’s paralegals work in its major cities like Reno and Las Vegas.
Nevada does not regulate paralegals, allowing paralegals to pursue their vocational choice through on-the-job training or education. Nevada’s Rule 5.3 does require paralegals to work under the supervision of an attorney who accepts responsibility for their professional conduct. While Nevada’s paralegals may not practice law, they may perform substantive legal work that requires extensive knowledge of procedure and the law.
Is There Paralegal Certification in Nevada?
Although education is not required as a means of becoming a paralegal, many aspiring paralegals choose to earn certificates or degrees. Paralegal education can set entry-level paralegals apart from their peers, which can be important in a competitive job market. Additionally, education can help prepare a paralegal to take one of the voluntary national certification exams to become a certified paralegal. Programs that qualify paralegals to sit for those exams are usually approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or are offered by accredited educational institutions.
Associate and bachelor’s degrees are offered in paralegal studies. Degree programs consist of general education coursework combined with specialized instruction in paralegal studies.
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People who have already earned a baccalaureate degree in any field and wish to specialize in paralegal studies may choose to earn a master’s degree or a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies. Post-baccalaureate certificates offer a relatively fast entry-point into the paralegal profession. However, master’s degrees generally command more attention from prospective employers.
There are some certificate programs that offer admission to students without previous higher education. These programs generally offer only specialized coursework in paralegal studies without many general education classes. Graduates earn certificates of completion to become certificated paralegals.
Professional paralegals that meet requirements for education, work experience or a combination of the two may choose to become certified paralegals by successfully completing a national exam. Certified paralegals are considered to have reached a high level of competence in their field. Currently, the three national paralegal associations offer four national certification exams. They are:
- 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)
Requirements for the national exams differ between the three national paralegal organizations. A comparison of eligibility requirements and recertification requirements can be found here.
Nevada has three regional professional organizations from which paralegals may select. The Nevada Paralegal Association (NPA), affiliated with NALA, is comprised of members from the Las Vegas Valley. The NPA works to advance the paralegal profession on a regional, state and national level. To increase the status of paralegals, the NPA encourages high standards of ethics and education, including voluntary certification through NALA’s CLA/CP exam.
The Sierra Nevada Association of Paralegals (SNAP), also affiliated with NALA, supports student, active and retired paralegals in the metro-Reno area. SNAP holds many events throughout the year, including educational seminars, social and networking meetings, and preparatory study groups for the CLA/CP exam. SNAP members may also apply for scholarships for everything from educational coursework to conference fees to national certification. Members may also access SNAP’s job bank.
The Paralegal Association of Southern Nevada, affiliated with NFPA, has small presence with a Facebook page. According to that page, its mission is to “promote the paralegal profession in Southern Nevada.”
Important Contacts for Paralegals
- Nevada Paralegal Association (NPA), affiliated with NALA
- Sierra Nevada Association of Paralegals (SNAP), affiliated with NALA
- Paralegal Association of Southern Nevada (PASN), affiliated with NFPA
- State Bar of Nevada
- Nevada Secretary of State
- The Nevada Judiciary