About 2,900 paralegals are employed in Kentucky.1 As the legal services industry is growing in Kentucky, it makes sense for an aspiring paralegal 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, including bachelor’s and associate degree programs on-campus and online. A certificate may be an option for those who have an associate’s degree and previous work experience.
How to Become a Paralegal in Kentucky
Kentucky has no state-level requirements for becoming a paralegal. Like many other states, a paralegal in Kentucky must work under the supervision of a lawyer. There is a voluntary Certified Kentucky Paralegal program offered through the Kentucky Paralegal Association, for which candidates can qualify through a combination of education and experience. While this is not required by law, it is becoming the standard for paralegals in Kentucky and will make a candidate more marketable when applying for open positions.
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 Kentucky Certified Paralegal (KCP) 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 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 does not include admittance to the KPA (although membership is not necessary to be a KCP), which requires a separate application and additional terms.
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Kentucky Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
The legal services field in Kentucky is showing growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs growth for paralegals and legal assistants in Kentucky will reach 12.5% through 2026.2 According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for paralegals in Kentucky was $46,130 as of May 2018.1 These statistics suggest a strong outlook for paralegals in Kentucky in the coming years.
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 in Legal Studies, as well as a minor in Paralegal Studies. Both bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years to complete and include liberal arts components as well as dedicated paralegal major courses. Legal Studies minor candidates will complete 24 credit hours in addition to the requirements for their major area of study. Past cohorts of Legal Studies graduates who applied for law school have seen a 100% acceptance rate, 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 related field. The AA is a total of 63 credit hours with 28 to 31 of those hours going towards Paralegal Studies courses. The professors who teach for the Paralegal Studies programs are expert legal professionals, the majority of whom 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 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. 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).
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
Kentucky Wesleyan College (Owensboro)
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
3+3 BS/JD | Legal Studies
Madisonville Community College (Madisonville)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Technology
Certificate | Paralegal
Morehead State University (Morehead)*
Bachelor of Arts | Legal Studies
Minor | Legal Studies
Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights)
Master of Legal Studies
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)
- 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 May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
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