Plan a Paralegal Career in Iowa

Paralegal Education in Iowa

Flag of Iowa

Flag of Iowa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paralegals working in Iowa are still scarce in the state’s rural areas, but the industry is becoming more prevalent in urban areas, especially in cities like Des Moines. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iowa is home to about 1,570 employed legal assistants. Thanks to a national trend, paralegal/legal assistant jobs are on the rise, with an expected national increase of almost 28% in the next six years – that’s about 70,000 new paralegal jobs created by 2017.

The current mean salary for a paralegal in Iowa is about $44,000. Like most US states, the largest employer of paralegals in Iowa is private law firms. Local and state governments, as well as legal departments of large companies, also hire Iowa paralegals.

The state of Iowa does not define paralegals, but considers them “paraprofessionals” as non-lawyer assistants. The state does rule that licensed attorneys must provide direct supervision to their legal assistants, and are legally responsible for their professional actions and conduct while employed.

Iowa paralegals are not required to receive formal education; however, holding a certificate or degree from an accredited and endorsed school will provide a competitive edge in salary and employment opportunities. Some employers may be willing to provide financial support for outstanding employees who wish to pursue a formal paralegal certification. If you wish to go this route to acquire a paralegal certificate or degree, it’s a good idea to check with local firms first to see which ones will consider supporting their employees’ education.

Not all paralegal studies programs are created equal. The Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) provides some helpful insight, and recommends that aspiring paralegals invest in a quality program that involves a minimum of 60 course hours as well as an internship. The AAfPE advises against investing in programs shorter than two months and online programs that do not have any traditional classes.

To earn their paralegal certificate, students must pass an approved certification exam. For additional employment and career opportunities, paralegal professionals and students may also join an official state organization, such as the Iowa Association of Legal Assistants.

Salaries

In USD as of Feb 18, 2013 (source: indeed.com)25k50k75k
Paralegal in Iowa $44,000
 

Spotlight School

Educational Establishments

Iowa Supreme Court in Des Moines

Iowa Supreme Court in Des Moines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American Bar Association (ABA) provides regulation, certification and endorsements for the law industry and education institutions. Seeking an ABA endorsement is voluntary and not necessary for a quality paralegal program, and some great schools may not yet have sought approval from them. An endorsement from the ABA, however, ensures a program and its students’ credibility, and many firms will only hire paralegals with a certificate or degree from an ABA-endorsed program.

The US Department of Education does not focus on or endorse a specific program, but it does provide a school’s accreditation. An accredited institution has been proven to be legitimate and ethical, and many employers require applicants to have a certificate or degree acquired from one. Other employers may not have guidelines about where paralegals receive their education, more options are available to paralegals who have attended a school that is both accredited by the Department of Education and endorsed by the ABA.

Iowa currently has two accredited schools with paralegal education programs that are endorsed by the ABA:

Des Moines Area Community College is a public university with a campus located in Des Moines, Iowa. Their Legal Assistant Program offers an Associate in Science degree or a Legal Assistant Certificate for students who already have a degree.

Kirkwood Community College is a 2-year Liberal Arts College located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with branch campuses elsewhere in the state. This institution offers an Associate of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies. Internships are mandatory and must be done through Kirkwood Community College.

Firms of Interest

Several prestigious law firms are located in the state of Iowa, with most concentrated in the Des Moines and Omaha Council-Bluffs metropolitan areas. Some law firms may have more than one office either regionally, nationally or even worldwide. Below are just a few of the state’s prestigious law firms:

Law Firm of C. Kevin McCrindle (with offices statewide)
326 4th Street
Hudson, Iowa 50643
Phone: 319-988-4315

Ahlers & Cooney PC
100 Court Avenue
Suite 600
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 515-243-7611
Fax: 515-243-2149

Belin McCormick Attorneys at Law
666 Walnut Street
Suite 2000
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 515-243-7100

Other Resources for Paralegals

Paralegal Schools in Iowa

Campus: Online

You’re serious about success. With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

At AIU, the Serious U, you can get started to get ahead.

Programs:

  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Generalist
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Corrections and Case Management
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Homeland Security and Crisis Management

Campus: Online

CTU can help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional network, faculty who are real-world professionals and innovative technology. And now several CTU degree programs are ranked by U.S. News Best Online Programs for 2015.  Are you in?

Programs:

  • Doctor of Management - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Human Services
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security

Campus: Online

  • Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
  • As a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university, NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, technology management, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Criminal Justice - Policing
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice - White Collar Crime
  • Master of Legal Studies
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice - Homeland Security

At Kaplan University, we offer over 180 degree and certificate programs. With three different ways to learn, you can choose the format that works best for you:

  • Study wherever you have an Internet connection, because almost all of our courses are 100% online, or
  • Take campus-based classes(with day and evening options available), or
  • Combine campus learning with online classes (blended).

Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology 
  • Bachelor of Science in Corrections
  • Associate of Applied Science In Public Safety and Security 
  • Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services
  • Associate of Applied Science: Criminal Justice

Campus: Online

Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017

Programs:

  • Applied Criminology (Master of Arts) - Online
  • Jurisprudence with concentration in Legal Studies (Bachelor of Science) - Online
  • Legal Studies - Homeland Security (Master of Science) - Online
  • Legal Studies - Law & Public Policy (Master of Science) - Online
  • Legal Studies - Criminal Justice (Master of Science) - Online

Campus: Online

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University. Take classes online or on campus. Pursue your degree to help you start the career you want. Learn more now.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice