State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Paralegal Job Description in Texas

Per information supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Texas has the fourth highest employment level of paralegals and legal assistants of any state in the nation. In May 2012, there were 19,340 paralegals and legal assistants working in Texas, making an annual mean wage of $50,630. If you would like to learn how to become a paralegal in Texas, read on.
 

Step 1

Receive Your Paralegal Education in Texas

Education is not required in Texas to become a Paralegal. You might find it difficult to qualify for a job without the skills or work experience needed. Paralegal and legal study programs are a great way to fine tune your skills for this career.

Texas Paralegal Online and Campus Schools

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Washington University School of Law - Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Degree
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Although education is not required of paralegals in order to legally work in Texas, the State Bar of Texas has outlined criteria that it feels attorneys should look for in prospective paralegals they are considering hiring. These include education, experience and certification. We will examine education first. The State Bar of Texas recommends that attorneys hire paralegals with one of the following educational qualifications:

  • Graduate of an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved paralegal studies program
  • Graduate of a non-ABA-approved paralegal studies program at an accredited institution
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject plus one year of attorney-supervised paralegal work and 15 hours of continuing legal education each year

ABA-approved paralegal programs in Texas include:

  • Texas State University – San Marcos
    • Master of Arts in Legal Studies
    • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Legal Studies
  • Texas A&M University – Commerce
    • Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies
    • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • San Jacinto College- North—Houston
    • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Lone Star College-North Harris—Houston
    • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
    • Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Lee College – Baytown
    • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
    • Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Lamar State College-Port Arthur
    • Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assisting
  • Kaplan College-Dallas
    • Associate of Applied Science in General Practice Paralegal Studies
    • General Practice Paralegal Studies Certificate
  • El Centro College- Dallas
    • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Amarillo College-Amarillo
    • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies

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Step 2

Accomplish Paralegal Work Experience in Texas

Another criterion that the State Bar of Texas says attorneys should look for in paralegals they hope to hire is experience, both with and without education. For example, in Step 1 above, candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field need one year of paralegal work experience. In the absence of education beyond a high school diploma, it is recommended that attorneys hire paralegals who have completed at least four years of paralegal work under an attorney’s supervision. Where do you get this type of experience? Legal aid associations in Texas often hire students who need work experience. These organizations include:

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Step 3

Become Certified by the TBS, If Desired

Still another criterion that the State Bar of Texas tells attorneys to look for in prospective paralegals is certification, either at the national level or through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBS). National certification may be through either the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) or the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). The TBS offers annual certification examinations for paralegals who have completed at least 30 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) in a specific specialty area, and have five years of paralegal experience, three in the specialty area in which you seek certification. Areas in which TBS certification for paralegals is available include:

  • Real estate law
  • Personal injury trial law
  • Family law
  • Estate planning and probate law
  • Criminal law
  • Civil trial law
  • Bankruptcy law

If you qualify, you must pass the appropriate Paralegal Exam for your chosen specialty. Once you pass the exam, you are Board Certified and given a Certificate of Special Competence within your specialty area of law.

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Step 4

Delve Into Paralegal Jobs in Texas

Paralegal jobs are found within law offices, corporations, nonprofit agencies, government organizations and more across Texas. Recent examples of employers hiring paralegals in Texas include:

  • Erskine & Blackburn, LLP – Austin
  • Polsinelli PC – Dallas
  • JPS Health Network – Fort Worth
  • Clear Channel Communications-San Antonio
  • Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP – Houston
  • Tesoro Companies – San Antonio
  • Deloitte – Arlington
  • Pye Legal Group – Houston
  • The Carlson Law Firm – San Antonio
  • Clark & Clark – Austin
  • Boeing-Dallas

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Step 5

You Have Become a Paralegal in Texas

Congratulations on becoming a paralegal in Texas! If you are TBS certified, remember to complete the necessary CLE to maintain certification every five years. Also, consider joining a voluntary, optional membership organization for paralegals in Texas. It can help provide you with relevant CLE opportunities, as well as networking and other resources:

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