About 650 paralegals were employed in North Dakota as of 2018, while the state reported an unemployment rate of 2.3% in mid-2019, boasting the lowest state-level unemployment rate in the US.1,2 While North Dakota has a comparatively sparse population and is often considered remote, these characteristics can increase the value of a well-trained paralegal in the eyes of potential employers. Attending a paralegal school in North Dakota can provide prospective professionals with the skills required to succeed in this career.
How to Become a Paralegal in North Dakota
North Dakota’s laws do not require paralegals to be certified or licensed, although they cannot practice law or give legal advice to the general public and must work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Given this professional relationship, having an education in the paralegal field will certainly give applicants an advantage over their competitors. National certification from an organization like the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) is also strongly recommended.
North Dakota Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
North Dakota paralegals earned an average salary of $45,870 as of 2018.1 Higher averages are found in metro areas like Bismarck, where the average during the same time frame was $50,110.1 While paralegal salaries in North Dakota are competitive and the unemployment rate is low, there are a relatively low number of paralegal jobs expected in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 60 paralegal and legal assistant job openings in the state each year through 2026.3 This data suggests that North Dakota is seeing growth in the legal services field, which is good news for prospective paralegals who position themselves to compete for available positions.
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in North Dakota
Turtle Mountain Community College: Turtle Mountain Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Tribal Advocacy/Paralegal and a Certificate in Tribal Advocate/Paralegal and is the only school in the state of North Dakota (as of June 2017) to offer a paralegal degree. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) is for first-time students who do not yet have a degree. The AAS is comprised of 34 credit hours and includes courses such as Introduction to Legal Studies and Ethics, Legal Writing, Family Law, and Tribal Advocate/Paralegal Internship. Once the AAS degree is earned, graduates will be equipped to apply for licensure with the Turtle Mountain Judicial Board to practice as a tribal advocate in the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court. The TMCC Certificate is designed for students who have already earned an associate or a baccalaureate degree or fulfilled the general education requirements in another way. Graduates of the certificate program are also eligible to be licensed by and practice in the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court System. 34 credit hours are also required for the certificate program, and it is typically completed within one year, including one summer.
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 Attorneys 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, Lawyers takes a different approach to business than most law firms, attempting to solve problems in new ways that tradition might not dictate. Ebeltoft Sickler invites paralegals to inquire about career opportunities.
Paralegal Schools and Programs in North Dakota
Note North Dakota currently has no programs that have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Turtle Mountain Community College (Belcourt)
Associate of Applied Science | Tribal Advocacy/ Paralegal
Certificate | Legal Studies
- 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 May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
3. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
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