Nebraska Paralegal Career and Salary Information

How to Become a Paralegal Nebraska

In Nebraska, as in nearly all other US states, paralegals and legal assistants are categorized as paraprofessionals, who are only permitted to complete law-related tasks under the direct supervision of a qualified attorney who accepts responsibility for his or her employees. Nebraska state law does not include any education or training minimums for paralegals employed throughout the state. This lack of regulation permits law firms and corporations to supply on-site training for employees lacking any other paralegal specific qualifications. However, the majority of employers prefer paralegals and legal assistants with some formal training or education within the field. Paralegal degree programs are offered at several colleges throughout the state and may vary in duration, course content, and rigor. The American Bar Association has currently approved two paralegal degree programs within Nebraska. Other programs are offered within the state and may be sufficient, but ABA-approved programs and generally preferred by employers and national organizations. Upon completion of a paralegal degree program, individuals are encouraged to pursue national certification from the National Associations of Legal Assistants or through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, both of which offer certification and continuing education programs. These optional certification programs are highly respected in the legal community and have been accepted as the standard of excellence for the paralegal and legal assistant professions. Paralegal and legal assistants in Nebraska are encouraged to join the Nebraska Paralegal Association, which offers relevant information and opportunities for individuals throughout the state.

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Career Opportunities for Paralegal Graduates

As the legal assistant and paralegal profession expands throughout the next decade, new positions are expected to emerge in government agencies, banks, corporations and especially in law firms which are currently the primary employers of paralegal labor nationwide. Large regional or national law firms tend to require a large degree of paralegal support and may provide good opportunities for paralegals seeking a large work environment or those wishing to specialize in a specific practice area. Kutak Rock LLP is a large national firm based in Omaha with 16 offices across the country. The firm practices in virtually every area of law and is known for offering competitive compensation and a positive work environment. Another large Omaha law firm is McGrath, North, Mullin & Kratz PC LLP, a full service firm that forms small workgroups of paralegals and attorneys who work in consort to provide excellent customer service and legal results. Local or small firms are good starting points for paralegals and legal assistants interested in entering a more personal or intimate work environment, or for those seeking a more general introduction to the profession. Corporate legal departments already rely heavily on paralegal labor and are expected to expand paralegal and legal assistant employment in the coming decade. Large corporations based in Nebraska include Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific, and ConAgra Foods. Other medium sized corporations may also be seeking to expand paralegal employment and would be good starting points for recently certified paralegals and legal assistants. Individuals with limited experience or those interested in public litigation are encouraged to look into positions at government agencies throughout the state as well.

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Nebraska Paralegal Jobs and Salary by Metro Area

Metro Area Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Lincoln 260 $41,720
Omaha-Council Bluffs 760 $44,430
Sioux City 110 $43,310

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Paralegal Job Outlook and Salary in Nebraska

Projected Job Growth

10.2%

Paralegals in Nebraska from 2010-20203

The paralegal and legal assistant occupations are expected to undergo expansion as law firms and corporations seek to minimize the cost of legal services. Attorney employment is likely to slow as more and more tasks are allotted to paralegals, expanding their role in the legal system and driving an increase in the number of positions nationwide. Corporations are expected to rely more heavily upon internal legal departments rather than more expensive outside counsel. This shift in dependence may create more corporate paralegal positions, further diversifying the paralegal and legal assistant job market. Existing positions, both in law firms and corporations, should be safe from the nationwide trend of outsourcing due to the in person nature of paralegal labor, and the growing importance of support staff in the legal system. In May 2011, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 18% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2010 to 2020.1 This compares favorably to the bureau’s average projection across all US occupations at 14%, and across all legal occupations at 11%.1 The projected growth rate is reflective of the trends referenced above and suggests that the job market for paralegals and legal assistants will continue to be favorable in the coming years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported 1,010 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout Nebraska earning an average annual wage of $43,310, only slightly under the median national paralegal wage of $46,680.1,2 The national expansion of the paralegal profession is expected to affect firms and corporations within Nebraska, driving the creation of new positions especially within urban areas. As the prominence of paralegals and legal assistants grows within the legal community, salaries are expected to increase proportionally. Favorable trends in employment opportunity and compensation growth suggest that the job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants in Nebraska will continue to be more and more positive throughout the coming years.

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Nebraska Paralegal Associations

Nebraska Paralegal Association

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ne.htm
3: NEworks https://neworks.nebraska.gov/gsipub/index.asp?docid=440