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Kentucky Paralegal Schools

Kentucky employs about 3,070 paralegals, and many of the neighboring states employ many more paralegals.1 The legal services industry is growing in Kentucky and the nation, therefore, it makes good sense for an aspiring paralegal in the Kentucky area to enter the workforce well-prepared. A Kentucky paralegal degree program can provide the necessary knowledge and skills to become a successful paralegal. There are several schooling options in Kentucky, depending on whether or not a student has previous educational or work experience. A bachelor’s or associate degree is available for those with no prior experience, and a certificate is an option for an individual who has prior work experience or some schooling. Additionally, there are campus-based and online programs available.

How to Become a Paralegal in Kentucky

Kentucky has no mandated requirements for becoming a paralegal. Like many other states, a paralegal in Kentucky must work under the supervision of a lawyer. A Kentucky paralegal must also inform each client of the fact that they are not an attorney. There is a voluntary certification through the Kentucky Paralegal Association, which can be obtained through a combination of education and experience, as well as an exam. While this is not required, it is becoming the standard for paralegals in Kentucky, and may assist a candidate in being more marketable upon entering the legal field.

Kentucky Paralegal Certification

The Kentucky Paralegal Association (KPA) works in tandem with the Kentucky Bar Association and the American Bar Association to promote higher standards in the state’s paralegal career field through its Certified Paralegal Program. Applicants must pass an examination and provide proof of a combination of education and experience that includes completion of an ABA-approved paralegal program or equivalent schooling, a bachelor’s degree or higher with one year of paralegal work or five (5) years of substantive paralegal work, all of which must be properly attested to and documented. Applicants must also submit a $100 application fee for the exam. Becoming a Kentucky Certified Paralegal (KCP) does not include admittance to the KPA (although membership is not necessary to be a KCP), and requires a separate application and additional terms.

Kentucky Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

Generally speaking, Kentucky has an average employment situation. With its February 2015 unemployment rate being 5.2%, the state ranks 23rd out of the 50 states and Washington D.C.2 The legal services field in Kentucky, however, is showing growth. From 2012 to 2013, Kentucky saw a growth of 3.3% in the Business and Professional Services sector, of which legal services is included.3 This is just slightly below the national average of 3.5%.3 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal profession nationwide is expected to see a 17% growth by 2022, which is above average growth.1 The average annual salary for a paralegal in Kentucky was $44,730 in 2014.1 With this information, it seems likely that one wishing to be a paralegal in Kentucky or the surrounding area can confidently pursue a career that could be both lucrative and fulfilling.

Paralegal Quote: “The best advice I ever received was to not be afraid to move around and try different areas of the law until you find the niche that fits you best. It is not unusual in this area for a paralegal to move every three years during the first 12 years of their career. Moving can also increase your salary a lot faster than waiting for a raise.” -Stephanie K. Jones, President of the Louisville Association of Paralegals

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Kentucky

Morehead State University: Morehead State University offers an American Bar Association approved Bachelor of Arts degree with a Legal Studies Major and a Bachelor of Arts with Legal Studies Area, as well as a minor in Paralegal Studies. The Major in Legal Studies requires 36 credit hours to complete while the Area in Legal Studies requires 48 total credit hours. Legal Studies minor candidates will complete 24 credit hours. 100% of students in the Legal Studies department who applied for law school were accepted between 2010 and 2015 and all Legal Studies professors are licensed practicing attorneys who have experience supervising paralegals in their practices.

University of Louisville: The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville gives students the opportunity to pursue an Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies. This program is approved by the American Bar Association and the credits can be applied towards a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in a different, but related field. The AA is a total of 63 credit hours with 28 to 31 of those hours going towards Paralegal Studies courses. The seven professors that teach for the Paralegal Studies programs are expert legal professionals, the majority of which possess a Juris Doctor.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Kentucky

Stites & Harbison PLLC is a national law firm with a strong regional presence in the Southeastern United States. As one of the oldest law firms in the US, Stites & Harbison is also well-respected and continues to push the bar on quality legal representation. To maintain its leading position, the firm seeks out the most highly qualified candidates for its paralegal and other opportunities. Phillips Parker Orberson & Arnett PLC is a civil defense litigation firm with multiple industry recognitions. In a little over ten years, PPOA has become one of the largest law firms in Louisville overall and one of the largest law firms in Kentucky specializing in trial practice. As it is still growing, PPOA is always accepting inquiries for positions with the firm. Dressman Benzinger LaVelle PSC is a full-service firm with many practice areas to keep new paralegal hires busy. Attorneys at its headquarters in Crestview Hills and offices in Ohio are admitted to practice at all levels of the US court system, offering learning opportunities for support staff.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in Kentucky

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

Beckfield College (Florence)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Eastern Kentucky University (Richmond)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies (online)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Science
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Science (online)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal (online)
Certificate | Paralegal Science
Minor | Legal Studies
Program | Pre-Law

Morehead State University (Morehead)*
Bachelor of Arts | Legal Studies
Minor | Legal Studies

Sullivan University (Lexington; Lousiville)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Associate of Science | Legal Office Management
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Diploma | Legal Administrative Assistant

University of Louisville (Louisville)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal

Student Review: “My experience while enrolled in paralegal studies at WKU were nothing but positive. The class schedules were flexible which helped me work full-time even while I was in school. Additionally, the community of Bowling Green is full of opportunities for students to enrich their overall experience. One of my favorite classes was Family Law. My professor was so funny and energetic, and I could tell that she had a passion for teaching. This made me excited about my future and at ease with my decision to pursue this type of certification. All programs, regardless of a university’s reputation, have negatives sides to them, though. One thing that I disliked about the paralegal program was the admission requirements. I had studied at another college prior to my enrollment at WKU; some of the classes from that institution did not transfer.” -Will H., student at Western Kentucky University

*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)

Additional Resources

  • Kentucky Bar Association – Maintains proper discipline of the members of the bar in accordance with the rules and the principles of the legal profession as a public calling under the supervision of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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