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Iowa Paralegal Schools

About 2,300 paralegals work in Iowa, and opportunities in the legal assisting field are projected to grow over the next ten years.1,2 Because of Iowa’s employment prospects and strong prospects in neighboring states, it can make sense for those 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. Attending a structured Iowa paralegal program can also provide benefits beyond career preparation, such as networking and making contact with potential future employers.

How to Become a Paralegal in Iowa

There are no education requirements set by law to become a paralegal in Iowa. One can enter the field through a structured program or by gaining needed skills through on-the-job training. 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 certification. These requirements can be obtained through any American Bar Association-approved associate degree 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 was $45,600 as of May 2015.1 The paralegal profession is a growing field in Iowa, which means more jobs should become available in the future. Projections Central estimates that jobs growth for paralegals in Iowa will be 10.1% through 2024, slightly above the predicted national average growth rate of 8%.2,3

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Iowa

Des Moines Area Community College: 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 takes 34 credit hours and is designed for individuals who already posses a degree. Introduction to Law, Torts and Litigation I, and Legal Research and Writing (I and II) are 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 professional ethics and their work.

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 within a legal office during their fourth semester to gain practical experience before graduation. Students who 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. The firm 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.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in Iowa

An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Des Moines Area Community College (Des Moines)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Associate of Applied Science | Realtime Reporting (Court Reporting and Captioning)
Associate of Applied Science | Interpretation & Translation, Judiciary Interpretation/Translation Concentration
Certificate | Paralegal
Certificate of Specialization | Interpretation and Translation, Judiciary Interpretation/Translation Concentration (online)

Grand View University (Des Moines, IA)
Bachelor of Arts | Political Science: Pre-Law
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies: Business and Human Resource Management
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies: Criminology
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies: Public Administration

Iowa Lakes Community College (Estherville, IA)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Studies

Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Associate of Arts | Liberal Arts Transfer: Paralegal

*Approved by the American Bar Associaition (ABA)

Additional Resources

  • 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.

References:
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm