Kentucky Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
Since Kentucky state law does not currently regulate the education, training, or employment of paralegals and legal assistants, most paralegals in the state enter work with a combination of education and experience. For most paralegal jobs in the state, an associate’s degree or certificate is the most common entry-level requirement. This career guide is your starting point for launching a career as a paralegal in this state. On this page, you will find answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Kentucky as well as paralegal salary information, job outlook, and career resources. Get started by using the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in Kentucky
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in Kentucky
There are currently no statewide requirements for paralegal certification in Kentucky, which means that paralegals can pursue a variety of career paths. Typically, paralegals will complete an education paired with experience. Experience is commonly gained during in-school internships or on-the-job training in entry-level roles. In addition, voluntary certification can be obtained at the state or national level.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
There are many paralegal schools in Kentucky that offer associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degree, and certificates through which candidates can build their skills and credentials. Formal training programs offered by paralegal schools in Kentucky typically include a review of basic legal proceedings, an introduction to several major substantive areas of law, and skill training in formal writing, research, and technology. Currently, there are four paralegal programs in Kentucky that have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).1
2. Gain experience.
Internships, job shadowing, and other real-world experiences are commonly offered in paralegal programs. Although not all programs require such experience as part of the degree plan, taking advantage of experience opportunities is usually recommended as it can help students build their skills and their professional networks.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Even though state-level certification is not required in order to work as a paralegal in Kentucky, earning voluntary certification is one way to build your credentials. You can read more about certification and the certification process below.
Paralegal Certification in Kentucky
A Kentucky paralegal is a person working under the supervision of a licensed attorney who applies their knowledge of law and legal procedures to assist lawyers in a variety of ways. Although certification is not required, obtaining voluntary paralegal certifications can show commitment, a desire for excellence, and provide networking opportunities. National organizations offer certification programs to maintain a consistent level of competency within the paralegal profession nationwide. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association); the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); and the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI) offer voluntary certification programs that are widely accepted by the industry as preparing candidates for professional excellence. Though not mandated, these certification examinations have been generally accepted as a standard of excellence within the paralegal profession. Prospective paralegals are also encouraged to consult with the Kentucky paralegal associations listed below. For more information on national certification, see our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Paralegals in Kentucky must disclose to clients that they are not lawyers, practice under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney, and adhere to client confidentiality. Though Kentucky paralegal certification is not mandated, obtaining the Certified Kentucky Paralegal (CKP) credential through the Kentucky Paralegal Association (KPA) is a competitive career move and is the standard held by many paralegal employers in the state. This examination-based program is in place to encourage minimum requirements for on-the-job training, work experience, and paralegal education. To earn this credential, candidates must meet education and experience requirements:
- Have graduated from an ABA-approved paralegal studies program
- Have graduated from a paralegal studies program that it is in “substantial compliance with ABA guidelines”
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited school with one year of verifiable paralegal work experience
- Have a minimum of five years of work experience as a paralegal accrued before 2012
- Maintain membership with the KPA once certified.
Kentucky Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Many opportunities for Kentucky paralegals are found in law firms. Firms across the state provide excellent opportunities for entry-level paralegals as well as professionals who are more advanced in their paralegal careers. Dinsmore & Shol, LLP is a large, well-established mass-tort litigation firm representing clients throughout Kentucky in administrative/regulatory, railroads, mining, real estate, energy, and environmental law. Dickinson Wright PLLC is another large firm practicing in commercial litigation, construction law, and entertainment law. These and other large firms in Kentucky can provide paralegals with opportunities to specialize within an area of interest.
Corporate paralegal jobs are also available in Kentucky. Large corporations that are based in the state that may hire paralegals include Yum! Brands, Texas Roadhouse, ResCare, and Humana. Kentucky paralegal jobs can also be found in government agencies operating throughout the state. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (KentuckySTATE or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in KentuckySTATE with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Commonwealth of Kentucky
- Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
- Frost Brown Todd
- Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss
- Stites & Harbison, PLLC
- US Army
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
Kentucky Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Kentucky from 2018-20282
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 2,960 paralegals and legal assistants working in Kentucky.3 Nationwide, Projections Central projects that employment of paralegals and legal assistants will grow 12%from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations; Kentucky is expected to exceed this at a projected growth of nearly 15%.2 As law firms try to increase the efficiency of legal services and reduce their costs, they are expected to hire more paralegals and legal assistants.
The reported average paralegal salary in Kentucky as of May 2020 was $46,690.3 This is significantly lower than the national average salary of $56,610, but it may reflect the relatively low cost of living throughout the state.3 Factors other than geographic location that can influence salaries include formal training, education, voluntary certification, and/or legal work experience. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
Kentucky Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Paralegal Associations in Kentucky
These are volunteer organizations, typically with elected Boards, that focus on professional development and networking for a specific geography and/or area of law.
- Kentucky Bar Association: Offers an employment portal that includes Kentucky paralegal jobs in all areas of the state.
- Kentucky Paralegal Association: Administers the Certified Kentucky Paralegal credential—the only state association with this offering.
- Louisville Association of Paralegals: Seeks to expand the use of paralegals throughout the legal environment,while supporting cooperation and networking opportunities within the legal profession.
- Northern Kentucky Association of Paralegals: Serving the northern half of the state, NKAP has been active in the legal community for 21 years.
- Northern Kentucky Bar Association: Posts Kentucky paralegal jobs with a focus on the northern counties of the state.
- Kentucky Court of Justice: Maintains a portal to all courts in Kentucky’s jurisdiction, offering access to court offices, schedules, records, court news and resources.
- Kentucky State Law Library: Located in Frankfort, hosts a complete collection of primary sources relating to Kentucky state law with access open to legal professionals and the public.
- University of Kentucky College of Law Library: Open to the public during all hours that the library is open to students, with major collections including Kentucky materials, federal reporters and digests, and American jurisprudence.
- University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Library: Hosts an expansive research collection with some materials available for checkout for city residents, plus an extensive electronic database for visitor use.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: Visit our jobs board to search for jobs in your area.
1. American Bar Association Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm