Steps Toward a Paralegal Career in Montana
Follow the step by step process on how to become a paralegal below:
- Embark Upon Paralegal Education in Montana
- Find Paralegal Work Experience in Montana
- Join the State Bar of Montana’s Paralegal Section (Voluntary)
- Explore Paralegal Jobs in Montana
- Now That You’ve Become a Paralegal in Montana
Paralegal Job Description in Montana
Montana differs from many other states in that its law strictly defines paralegals as persons who are qualified through education, training, or experience to perform substantive legal duties. Additionally, paralegals in Montana must work under the supervision of a licensed Montana attorney. Licensure of paralegals in Montana has been proposed by the legislature, but as of 2014, it is not a legal requirement, yet. If you would like to become a paralegal in Montana under the state’s current rules, please read on.
Embark Upon Paralegal Education in Montana
Montana has stricter rules regarding paralegal education than most other states, although the rules are still a bit arbitrary. Paralegals in Montana must be qualified through education, training, or work experience.
Montana Paralegal Online and Campus School Programs
The Montana Bar prefers that paralegals be graduates of American Bar Association (ABA)-approved paralegal programs, this is not a mandate in order to work as a paralegal in Montana.
The following paralegal programs in Montana hold ABA accreditation:
- University of Montana, Missoula
- Associate of Science, Paralegal Studies
Find Paralegal Work Experience in Montana
If you attend a Montana ABA-approved paralegal program, you will likely complete an internship of at least 120 hours in duration. If your school does not offer a paralegal internship, you may pursue one on your own through the following volunteer legal organizations in Montana:
- Montana Legal Services Association – Helena
- Montana Court Help Program – statewide
- MontanaLawHelp.org – statewide/online
State Bar of Montana’s Paralegal (Voluntary)
You might consider joining the State Bar of Montana’s Paralegal Section, although this is strictly optional and not necessary to work as a paralegal in Montana. Being a member of the State Bar sets you apart as being the most professional and ethical in your field, with the highest standards of professionalism. In order to join, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- You are an attorney and member of the State Bar of Montana
- You are a graduate of an ABA-approved paralegal program
- You meet the definition of Paralegal as defined in the Montana Code Ann. §25-10-301, Oct. 2009 (see above)
- You have an associate or bachelor degree in paralegal studies from a college or university
- You are a Certified Paralegal or Advanced Certified Paralegal with the National Association of Legal Assistants
- You have worked as a paralegal for at least one year and a licensed Montana attorney will attest to your paralegal qualifications
If you desire becoming a member of the State Bar of Montana’s Paralegal Section, complete this application and mail it, along with yearly dues of $60, to State Bar of Montana, P.O. Box 577, Helena, MT 59624.
Explore Paralegal Jobs in Montana
Paralegal jobs in Montana may be found in attorney’s offices, businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations, and many other areas, such as:
- PPL Corporation Montana – Billings
- Anderson Law Office – Kalispell
- Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind – Missoula
- Parker, Heitz & Cosgrove, PLLC – Billings
- State of Montana- Bozeman, Helena, Glasgow
- Montana State Fund – Helena
Now That You’ve Become a Paralegal in Montana
Congratulations! You are now a paralegal working in the great state of Montana! Think about joining the Montana Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals, the state’s only voluntary membership organization for paralegals (besides the State Bar of Montana Paralegal Section).
If you are a member of the State Bar of Montana Paralegal Section, remember to complete the annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) required by the Bar as well as paying the annual $60 dues to the organization. You must complete at least 10 CLE hours each year, with six of those hours being at interactive, in-person seminars. Additionally, you must complete three hours of ethics CLE every three years.