Iowa Paralegal Schools
Iowa employs about 2,370 paralegals and many of its neighboring states employ many more.1 For example, Illinois employs over 12,000 paralegals and Minnesota employs over 5,000.1 Because of Iowa’s decent employment prospects and the other great prospects nearby, it makes good sense for a person in Iowa wishing to become a paralegal to enroll in an Iowa paralegal degree program. There are a variety of campus-based and online paralegal degree programs available in Iowa.
Whether or not the aspiring paralegal has attended school or worked in the legal field before, there are programs in Iowa to meet the specific needs of each type of person. Attending a structured Iowa paralegal program can provide additional benefits, such as networking and making contact with potential future employers.
How to Become a Paralegal in Iowa
There are no mandatory education requirements to become a paralegal in Iowa. One can enter the field through a structured program or by gaining needed skills on the job. However, in 2003 the state Supreme Court recommended that those wishing to become paralegals be certified through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), of which the Iowa Association of Legal Assistants and Paralegals is a direct affiliate. For this reason, it is wise for the Iowa paralegal to choose a program that will provide the necessary education to meet the requirements of this certificate. These requirements can be obtained through any American Bar Association-approved program, or associate degree, certificate, or bachelor’s program that requires at least 60 semester hours. Regardless of the program, one quarter of the hours must involve legal studies, and the individual must have at least one year of work experience before obtaining the certification.
Iowa Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
The average annual salary for a paralegal in Iowa is $44,860, and the Iowa paralegal profession is a growing field, which means more jobs should become available in the future.1 The Bureau of Economic Analysis measures gross domestic product for each state. More importantly, it measures growth in the Business and Professional Services industry, of which legal services is included. From 2012 to 2013, Iowa saw a growth of 3.2%, which is just slightly below the national average of 3.5%.2 On the whole, the profession is predicted to grow 17% by 2022, which is a faster than average growth.1
In general, the employment situation in Iowa looks good. The February 2015 unemployment rate was 4.1%, which puts Iowa 12th in the nation out of the 50 states and Washington D.C.3
ABA-Approved Paralegal Schools in Iowa
There are currently two schools in Iowa that have American Bar Association-approved programs. They include:
- Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, IA offers an associate degree.
- Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA offers an Associate of Arts degree, an Associate of Science, and career option degrees.
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Iowa
Des Moines Area Community College: The Des Moines Area Community College offers both a legal assistant certificate and an Associate of Science degree, both approved by the American Bar Association. The Associate of Science consists of a total of 64 credit hours and take two years to complete while the legal assistant certificate is 34 hours and is designed for individuals that already posses a degree. Introduction to Law, Torts and Litigation I, and Legal Research and Writing (I and II) are all core courses for both courses of study. Associate degree students must complete an internship within a legal office while also attending in-class seminars related to their work and professional ethics.
Kirkwood Community College: Both a Paralegal Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science/career option degree are offered at Kirkwood Community College. These two year degrees are approved by the American Bar Association and equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the paralegal profession. All students are required to complete an internship during their fourth semester within a legal office to gain practical experience before graduation. Students that need assistance in paying for school can apply for the Bradley & Riley PC Legal Assistant/Paralegal Scholarship.
Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Iowa
Nyemaster Goode P.C. is the largest law firm in Iowa, maintaining offices in Des Moines, Ames, and Cedar Rapids. Nyemaster Goode works in multiple practice areas, as a consequence of which the firm was recently named a Go-To Law Firm by Corporate Counsel magazine. Nyemaster Good offers extremely competitive benefits including parking and transportation subsidies and an on-site wellness facility, and regularly looks for paralegals to join its team. Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman PLC is another of Iowa’s largest law firms, with offices across the state. Simmons Perrine is always on the lookout for talented legal assistants. Belin McCormick is a highly respected full service law firm headquartered in Des Moines. This firm puts an emphasis on work life balance and welcomes inquiries about paralegal opportunities.
Online and Iowa Paralegal Schools
Paralegal Schools and Programs in Iowa
Grand View University (Des Moines, IA)
Certificate | Paralegal Studies: Business and Human Resource Management
Certificate | Paralegal Studies: Criminology
Certificate | Paralegal Studies: Public Administration
Iowa Lakes Community College (Estherville, IA)
Associate in Arts | Paralegal/Legal Studies
Associate in Science | Paralegal/Legal Studies
Kaplan University (Cedar Falls, IA; Cedar Rapids, IA; Council Bluffs, IA; Mason City, IA; Urbandale, IA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Associate of Arts | Paralegal
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Iowa Association of Legal Assistants.Paralegals – Offers useful resources to paralegals/legal assistants, students, and employers interested in the legal profession in Iowa.
Iowa State Bar Association – Provides Iowa attorneys with the benefits of professional association, including continuing education and news regarding developments that impact the profession.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
2. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm