Paralegal Education in Vermont
A paralegal, or legal assistant to a practicing attorney, is an excellent career field to enter these days: it’s in demand, explosive and needs only two years (less, depending on existing education) to prepare for entry-level positioning. A paralegal leads a work life of variety, of challenge, and of being indispensable. They perform substantive legal work in all areas except four. A paralegal, under the Rule of Professional Conduct 5.3, may perform the tasks of the attorney save 1) offering legal advice 2) representing herself as a lawyer 3) charging compensation for time as a lawyer might and 4) representing a client in the courtroom. In fact, many attorneys are stepping off the battlefield and into the role of support, instead.
In Vermont there is no active governing body over the paralegal field, so there are no set educational requirements to be met. Indeed, anyone can become a paralegal as long as they’re hired for the reason and it is the job title. Training can be gained in the field, but more and more prospective employers are looking not just for eagerness, but skill and knowledge before the fact, meaning those hires who come already trained are more likely to get the positions.
|In USD as of Mar 12, 2013 (source: indeed.com)||30k||60k||90k|
|Paralegal in Vermont $44,000|
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Education and Certification
A degree from a community college, a university of a proprietary school, from a two year Associate degree up to an eight year Juris Doctorate, are all perfect ways to gain the certification needed to enter the field. You can even gain a second BA or a Post-Baccalaureate certification which means you possesses a Bachelors degree in any discipline (even Underwater Basket Weaving) and entered back into the educational system with general requirements fulfilled and instead have chosen a program with intense study of Paralegal matters. Or you can forego it all if the opportunity presents itself to get on the job training. Even if the latter occurs, there are evening and weekend or online classes to help further your own skills, along with becoming Certified.
It’s important to note that certification comes with a degree, a school course successfully completed. To be titled a Certified Paralegal, one of four exams sponsored by one of three national associations needs to be passed. Only after triumphantly concluding an exam in your designated skills bracket can the brand of Certified Paralegal be claimed; even then your state might require a certain amount of job experience and the joining of an association.
The four possible exams each have with their own criteria so it’s prudent and necessary to investigate the prerequisites. There is a fee for each sitting, so be prepared for those as well. In some cases a paralegal can use experience and the sworn statement of an attorney to fulfill the test needs without further education. Most exams will require some schooling and training. The four exams and the three associations are the CLA/CP sponsored by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA); the PACE and the PCC, both sponsored by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); and the PP sponsored by the Association for Legal Professionals (NALS).
Vermont has no ABA approved schools within it borders. Fortunately, there are 20 within New York alone, one inside New Hampshire, and six in Massachusetts. It should be understood that there is considerable difference between ABA approved programs and accredited schools. The American Bar Association is a body that regulates attorneys. They know law, they know what it takes to assist a lawyer, they know what kinds of skills a paralegal needs to own before they are of genuine use to an attorney. With all their combined knowledge and experience, they have set some guidelines for what a good paralegal program needs to teach and touch on. A legal program they have affixed their seal of approval to is one attorneys know have taught what they need their assistants to have. An employee who has graduated from an ABA approved course is guaranteed competent, right out of the box. Accredited schools are those that, as a whole establishment in delivery and content, meet or exceed the requirements of an authoritative body either private, regional or national, such as the Department of Education. One commends a course, one commends the institution. It is prudent to find a school that satisfies both demands, thereby covering your education entirely.
Firms of Interest
After the hard work, the schooling and graduation, the job needs to be found. Many schools or associations will assist with job placement, but in case you feel adventurous and want to hunt down an opening yourself, by far the greatest environments to which entry-level paralegals find themselves starting out in are the big law firms. Below you will find a truncated list of the largest firms in the state, though but no means the only ones. Also consider government agencies, banks, and corporations.
Bauer, Gravel, Farnham, Nuovo & Parker
40 College Street, Suite 100
567 Main Street
10 Northland Lane
Paul Frank + Collins P.C.
One Church Street
Burlington, VT 05401
P.O. Box 1307
Burlington, VT 05402-1307
Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C.
P.O. Box 988
209 Battery Street
Burlington, Vermont 05402-0988
Gravel & Shea
76 St. Paul Street, 7th Floor
P.O. Box 369
Burlington, VT 05402-0369
Langrock Sperry & Wool, LLP
111 S. Pleasant Street
PO Drawer 351
Middlebury VT 05753-0351
Toll Free 800.639.6356
Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
90 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 99
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819-0099
52 State Street
P.O. Box 1072
Montpelier, VT 05601-1072
199 Main Street
P.O. Box 190
Burlington, VT 05402-0190
28 Vernon Street
P.O. Box 9
Brattleboro, VT 05302-0009
Important Contacts for Paralegals
- Affiliated with the NFPA Vermont Paralegal Organization (VPO)
- Vermont Bar Association – Standards for Paralegal Membership
- Vermont Bar Association
- Vermont Judiciary
- Vermont Secretary of State
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