About 2,920 paralegals were working in Oklahoma in the year 2018, with the majority in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas.1 With four paralegal programs in the state that are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), there are flexible opportunities for aspiring paralegals to pursue a paralegal degree or certificate in paralegal studies before applying for jobs in the state.
How to Become a Paralegal in Oklahoma
While Oklahoma does not have any education or training standards set by law for prospective paralegals, the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) does encourage paralegals to meet at least one of the following seven guidelines:
- Successful completion of the National Association of Legal Assistants’ Certified Legal Assistant Examination Exam (CLA)
- Successful completion of the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE)
- Graduation from an ABA-approved paralegal studies program
- Graduation from an accredited paralegal program
- Possess a baccalaureate or associate degree in any field from an accredited school AND either two years of work experience OR the completion of a certain number of semester hours of legal specialty courses
- Possess a high school diploma AND graduation from an accredited legal assistant/ paralegal school that requires at least 60 semester hours with some legal specialty courses AND at least two years of work experience OR a baccalaureate or associate degree
- Possess a high school diploma AND five or more years of work experience in the field.2
The OBA also encourages law firms and attorneys practicing in the state to abide by these hiring standards. In such a competitive market, it is helpful for aspiring paralegals to pursue a paralegal degree in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
The state of Oklahoma can be an attractive place to pursue a paralegal career. The highest concentrations of paralegals in the state are in the metro areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.1 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that paralegals in the state earned an average annual wage of $48,330 as of 2018.1 Furthermore, the state had a relatively low unemployment rate at 3.3% as of March 2019, and projections place jobs growth for paralegals in Oklahoma at 14.1% through 2026.2,3
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma: The Department of Legal Assistant Education within the University of Oklahoma Law Center offers a competitive, American Bar Association-certified legal assistant certificate. This program is designed to supplement an existing or in-progress associate’s or bachelor’s degree. 40 credit hours of general education courses must be completed in addition to the legal-specialty courses if the student does not already possess a degree. The core courses include Introduction to Law; Legal Analysis; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Professional Ethics; and Computerized Legal Research. The elective courses leave room for students to pursue one or more specializations such as Oil and Gas Law, Trusts/ Wills, Workers’ Compensation, and Environmental Law.
University of Central Oklahoma: The University of Central Oklahoma has a competitive program leading to a Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies. This course of study is designed for individuals who are interested in gaining knowledge about the business aspects of office work and ultimately working in a legal office in a support or leadership role. Students take legal courses as well as intensive business courses throughout the degree plan. The program’s professors and instructors are top-rated professionals in the legal field. Students interested in internships have plenty of options regarding placements in area offices or organizations to build professional field experience.
Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Oklahoma
- Crowe & Dunlevy has been a respected name in Oklahoma legal practice for over 100 years. The firm has been highly ranked by Chambers USA and Best Lawyers, among others, and its attorneys hold various distinguished memberships and positions outside of the firm. Crowe & Dunlevy is interested in hearing from applicants with excellent academic achievement who wish to assist the firm in providing quality service to its clients.
- Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable, Golden & Nelson, PC works in litigation and transaction, with two offices in Oklahoma. Hall Estill recognizes the contributions made by paralegals to its practice and regularly recruits new paralegals for its open positions.
- GableGotwals Counsel has offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, from which its attorneys service clients in the full spectrum of legal needs. GableGotwals maintains an open recruiting schedule so that it can hire the best possible paralegals whenever the right candidate becomes available.
Paralegal Schools and Programs in Oklahoma
An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
East Central University (Ada)*
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Minor | Legal Studies
Northeastern State University (Tahlequah)
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Rose State College (Midwest City)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Tulsa Community College (Tulsa)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Associate of Arts | Paralegal
University of Oklahoma (Norman)*
Certificate | Legal Assistant
Master’s Degree | Legal Studies
University of Central Oklahoma
Bachelor of Business Administration | Legal Studies
*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)
- Central Oklahoma Association of Legal Assistants – Organization created to support and foster communication, assistance, networking and continuing education for Oklahoma-based paralegals.
- Oklahoma Paralegal Association – OPA is affiliated with the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), and offers legal-related news, resources, and scholarship information to its Oklahoma 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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