North Dakota Paralegal Schools
North Dakota paralegal schools are a valued commodity in this region due to the state’s comparatively sparse population (the third least populous in the nation) and its remote location. These same qualities, however, are what increase the value of a well-trained paralegal who chooses to live and work in North Dakota. Employing 510 paralegals in 2014, the state reported an unemployment rate of 2.9% in February 2015, boasting the second lowest rate for all states.1,2 This makes all schools in North Dakota, including paralegal schools, even more appealing.
How to Become a Paralegal in North Dakota
North Dakota’s laws mandate that paralegals work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney, and that they cannot practice law or give legal advice to the general public. While the state does not require any particular certification or education level to become a paralegal, having an education in the field will certainly give applicants an advantage over their competitors.
North Dakota Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
North Dakota paralegals earned an average salary of about $42,000 in 2014.2 Higher salary averages are found in Bismarck, while more modest wages for paralegals are found in Grand Forks.
While the salaries in North Dakota are good and the unemployment rate is low, there are also a relatively low number of paralegal jobs reported to become available in the coming years. Projections Central projects that only about 90 paralegal and legal assistant jobs will open up between 2012 and 2022, at a rate of about 10 jobs per year, not surprising numbers for such a remotely populated state.3 On the flip side, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which measures the gross domestic product overall, reports that in the area of Professional and Business Services, which includes Legal Services, North Dakota grew a whopping 10.1% between 2012 and 2013, much higher than the national average of 3.5%.4 This data suggests that even with its low population, North Dakota is seeing substantial growth in the legal services field, and is good news for prospective paralegals.
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in North Dakota
Rasmussen College: The School of Justice Studies at Rasmussen College has a paralegal associate degree and a paralegal certificate available. The core courses found in both programs include Introduction to Law and the Legal System, Civil Litigation and Procedure (I and II), Paralegal Ethics, and Legal Research. The associate degree is a 94-hour course of study while the paralegal certificate is 61 hours. Students who attend Rasmussen College’s North Dakota campuses can enroll in face-to-face general education classes, but will need to complete the paralegal courses online.
Lake Region State College: For individuals who wish to pursue a career as a paralegal/legal assistant, Lake Region State College offers an administrative assistant (legal option) diploma and Associate of Applied Science. Both programs take two years to complete, with the AAS requiring a few courses set aside for general education. Both the diploma and the AAS students pursuing the Legal Option are required to complete Business in the Legal Environment, Introduction to Criminal Justice, and Criminology. For the advanced credits, courses are divided into Categories I and II, with Category I consisting of accounting and other business courses and Category II having mostly computer information systems and business technology courses.
Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in North Dakota
Mackoff Kellogg Law Firm is one of the leading law firms in North Dakota, and represents clients across the upper Midwest. Its business is focused on integrity, trust, respect, and results, as well as technology. Mackoff Kellogg goes to great lengths to recruit the best available talent, and invites inquiries from recent paralegal graduates. Crowley Fleck LLP is a regional firm with offices in Bismarck and Williston, North Dakota, as well as in Montana. Crowley Fleck provides legal expertise in a broad array of practice areas. The firm looks for paralegal talent to support its position as one of the premier law firms in the upper Midwest. Ebeltoft, Sickler, Kolling, Grosz, Bouray PLLC takes a different approach to business than most law firms, attempting solve problems in new ways that tradition might not dictate. Ebeltoft Sickler invites paralegals to inquire about career opportunities.
Online and North Dakota Paralegal Schools
Red River Valley Paralegal Association – The RRVPA is dedicated to connecting paralegals from eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota through professional development and education.
Western Dakota Association of Legal Assistants – WDALA is a non-profit organization in North Dakota providing networking opportunities and advocating for the continuing legal education for its members.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
3. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
4. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/