Paralegal Education in New JerseyNew Jersey’s paralegal occupation is going strong and still growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 6,790 working paralegals are located in the state, with the majority concentrated in and around the cities. On a national level, paralegal/legal assistant jobs are expected to grow by 28% in the next six years – that’s an estimated 70,000 new paralegal jobs.
The mean salary for a paralegal in New Jersey is currently about $44,250, with an average hourly wage of $21.27. The majority of paralegal employment is provided by private law firms in this state; however, corporations and different government branches employ legal assistants as well.
Paralegals in the state of New Jersey are currently under the responsibility of their supervising attorney. Some proposals have been introduced, and defeated, to allow the state to license and regulate paralegals. Like the rest of the US, only licensed lawyers may practice law – paralegals and all non-lawyers are prohibited from providing legal services, including giving legal advice without a supervising lawyer. Paralegals who ignore this rule risk prosecution.
Despite some introduced proposals mentioned above, the state of New Jersey does not provide oversight or regulation for legal assistants, leaving it up to members of the profession to oversee and certify paralegals. To become a paralegal, students or starting professionals can earn a certificate or degree at a school and pass an approved exam, or instead become a paralegal through training at their place of employment. Some employers may also support their employees in the pursuit of a certificate or degree.
Aspiring paralegals become officially certified when they pass one of several approved certification exams. These exams can come from the National Association of Paralegals (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), or the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS).
In addition to taking the exam, holding a certificate or degree from a credible school will open up more employment opportunities and will provide an edge against the competition when applying for jobs. Paralegals and aspiring paralegals still in school should also consider joining a local organization, such as the Paralegal Association of New Jersey, which have member benefits including exclusive job listings and valuable local network ties.
|In USD as of Feb 21, 2013 (source: indeed.com)||30k||60k||90k|
|Paralegal in New Jersey $50,000|
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Educational EstablishmentsWhen deciding on a school for paralegal education, it’s a good idea to choose a program that has been endorsed by the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA is a large and influential national organization that not only endorses law schools and programs, but also seeks to improve the law profession. An approval from the ABA is voluntary, but many colleges and programs seek its endorsement, which helps prove an institution’s – and its students’ — credibility. Many employers require paralegal applicants to carry a certificate or degree from an ABA-endorsed program.
Besides an ABA endorsement, the majority of legitimate schools seek to earn accreditation status, which is earned through the US Department of Education. It’s a very good idea to attend an accredited institution, as these schools have been proven to be legitimate and ethical. Many employers may also require applicants to carry a certificate or degree from an accredited school, instead of, or in addition to, an ABA-endorsed program. Other employers may require only one or the other, or even have no requirements at all.
New Jersey is currently home to 13 schools with programs that are endorsed by the American Bar Association, including three 4-year institutions listed below:
Berkeley College is a proprietary 4-year college located in Woodland Park, NJ that offers an Associate degree and certificate in its Paralegal Studies program. Internships are mandatory.
Fairleigh Dickinson University is a private, international 4-year college with a campus in Madison, NJ. It offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in its Paralegal Studies program, with a 5-month day-classes and a 10-month evening-classes option. Internships are optional.
Montclair State University is a public, 4-year research institution located in Montclair, NJ. Through its Paralegal Studies program, students may earn a post-baccalaureate certificate, a Bachelor’s degree. Students may also minor in Paralegal Studies.
In addition to the three 4-year schools listed above, below are the state’s 2-year colleges that offer endorsed Paralegal Studies programs:
Atlantic Cape Community College
Bergen Community College
Brookdale Community College
Burlington County College
Cumberland County College
Gloucester County College
Mercer County Community College
Middlesex County College
Raritan Valley Community College
Union County College
Firms of Interest
The state of New Jersey is home to many prestigious law firms, especially in the state’s urban areas. Some of these firms may have more than one location. A few are listed below:
Blume Goldfaden Berkowitz Donnelly Fried & Forte (with locations state-wide)
One Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928
Fax: (973) 635-9339
Gibbons (with locations throughout the region)
One Gateway Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5310
Jacoby Donner PC (with another location in Pennsylvania)
East Gate Center
309 Fellowship Road, Suite 200
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Other Resources for Paralegals
- New Jersey State Bar Association
- South Jersey Paralegal Association
- Paralegal Association of New Jersey
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