Approximately 1000 paralegals work in New Hampshire according to the 2011 employment survey performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Paralegals in New Hampshire primarily work in private law firms, in corporate law offices or for governmental entities.
New Hampshire has no regulations in place that govern the training or educational requirements for becoming a paralegal. Those aspiring to work as paralegals may find employment that offers on-the-job training or may choose to purse education prior to beginning their careers.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court defines paralegals as nonlawyer assistants. As such they fall under Rule 5.3, which requires lawyers to provide adequate supervision of all nonlawyer assistants, including guidance in ethics and confidentiality. Supervising lawyers are also responsible for the professional conduct of their employees.
Is There Paralegal Certification in New Hampshire?
As the career opportunities for paralegals have grown, many aspiring paralegals have chosen to pursue formal education in paralegal studies. Educational program options include certificates and degrees. The American Bar Association (ABA) approves of some programs that meet standards of rigor and comprehensiveness. Not all programs are offered by accredited institutions. Both ABA approval and accreditation can be important considerations to employers and to the professional organizations that offer national certification.
Certificated paralegals are paralegals that have completed a certificate program. Certificate programs are typically the short route to becoming a paralegal as they do not have many general education requirements. Instead they offer a specialized focus on paralegal studies. Many certificate programs require that applicants have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in any field. However, some programs accept students with no previous higher education.
|New Hampshire Statistics|
Prospective paralegals may also choose to earn a degree in paralegal studies. Degree programs combine paralegal coursework with the fundamentals of higher education. Students may choose from associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies. Students who are interested in reaching high levels of education as paralegals may also pursue master’s degrees in paralegal studies.
Paralegals with education, work experience or a combination of the two may choose to become certified paralegals by successfully completing a national certification exam. Currently, four national certification exams are offered by the three national professional paralegal associations. The four exams 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)
Each exam has its own eligibility requirements. A comparison can be found here.
The Paralegal Association of New Hampshire (PANH), an affiliate of the NFPA, is open to paralegals, students, law firms and any other parties who are interested in strengthening the paralegal profession. PANH offers many seminars and continuing legal education (CLE) opportunities throughout the year. Networking, companionship, a job bank, and other resources are also available to PNAH members.
PANH has four levels of membership:
- Voting – Open to any individual employed as a paralegal
- Associate – Open to any individual who has previously been employed as a paralegal or who has graduated from from a paralegal program and is not employed
- Student – Open to any individual enrolled in a paralegal program or serving in a paralegal internship
- Sustaining – Open to entities that work with PANH and that are concerned with the betterment of the paralegal profession
Private law firms are the largest employers of paralegals. Some large law firms in New Hampshire include:
- Devine Millimet & Branch, P.A.
- McLane Law Firm
- Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, P.A.
- Gallagher Callahan & Gartrell, P.A.
- Orr & Reno, P.A.
- Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.
- Sulloway & Hollis, PLLC
- Wiggin & Nourie, P.A.
Important Contacts for Paralegals
- Paralegal Association of New Hampshire (PANH), affiliated with the NFPA
- New Hampshire Bar Association
- New Hampshire Secretary of State
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch