Become a Paralegal in Kentucky

Both nationwide and in Kentucky, the outlook for paralegals is optimistic. Nationwide, the profession is expected to increase by 18 percent between 2010 and 2020, and in May 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 2,980 paralegals and legal assistants in the state of Kentucky. With an hourly mean wage of $19.97 and an annual mean wage of $41,540, paralegal salaries in the state were reflective of the growing need for cost-effective legal assistance. Those working for larger firms, who had expertise in specialty fields of law or who worked overtime made as much as $63,130 per year.

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Paralegals are no longer needed only in law firms. Nonprofits, large corporations, insurance companies and other businesses often have in-house legal departments. Fortune 500 companies based in Kentucky, which include Humana, Yum Brands, Ashland, Kindred Healthcare and General Cable, need legal services and paralegals are often seen as cost-effective sources for skilled legal assistance. Paralegals also have the ability to study special areas of the law, such as environmental law, family law or real estate, so that they can pursue positions that are in tune with their personal interests. Enterprising individuals who complete paralegal education programs often have an edge in a competitive profession that is increasingly in demand.

Paralegal Certification

There is no mandatory certification or licensing for paralegals in Kentucky. However, the Kentucky Paralegal Association’s Certified Paralegal Program promotes competence and high standards of professional responsibility. Through this voluntary program, qualified individuals can become Certified Kentucky Paralegals.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in Kentucky

Kentucky Paralegal Certificates

  • Beckfield College

    Located in Florence, in northern Kentucky, Beckfield College offers a Paralegal Post-Baccalaureate Certificate that gives students oral and written communication skills, and teaches them how to handle legal matters, conduct research, prepare legal documents and understand the role of the paralegal. Students select electives in one of four areas of law: family, financial, general or litigation.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $13,400 (based on 2013 full-program tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; bachelor’s degree
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Orientation to Law
    • Introduction to Rules and Procedure
    • Legal Research
    • Legal Analysis
    • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Paralegal Associate Degrees

    • University of Louisville

      A four-year public institution, the University of Louisville offers a 63-semester hour Associate in Arts paralegal degree. Students receive a quality liberal arts education in addition to a solid foundation in substantive law and the specialized legal skills necessary to work as paralegals. In addition to classes offered at the school’s main campus in Louisville, many courses can be taken in the evenings at the Belknap campus, and several can be taken online.

      • Estimated Program Cost: $25,578 for state residents; $62,118 out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
      • Prerequisites: Pre-college curriculum, ACT or SAT score
      • ABA Approved: Yes
      • Format: on campus or hybrid (on campus and online)

      Sample required courses:

      • Legal Systems and the Paralegal
      • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
      • Torts for Paralegals
      • Computers and the Law
      • Business Association and Transactions
    • Western Kentucky University (WKU)

      Located in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University (WKU) offers a 64-credit Associate of Arts in paralegal studies designed to be completed in four to five semesters of full-time study. Students receive a balanced liberal arts education along with a foundation in legal theory and practical paralegal skills, through courses that emphasize reasoning and understanding.

      • Estimated Program Cost: $23,259 for state residents; $59,328 for out-of-state students (based on winter 2014 per-credit tuition)
      • Prerequisites: ACT composite score of 20 or greater, SAT score (math and critical reading) of 940 or higher, unweighted high school GPA of 2.50 or higher or achievement of the required Composite Admission Index (CAI) score
      • ABA Approved: Yes
      • Format: On campus

      Sample required courses:

      • Real Estate Law for the Paralegal
      • Legal Research and Writing
      • Corporate Law
      • Administrative Practice and Procedure

    Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

    • Eastern Kentucky University

      Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is a public, four-year institution offering a Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies. Students learn practical paralegal skills and benefit from the real-world experience of faculty members who hold Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degrees and part-time faculty who are practicing attorneys, judges and elected officials. Students can take advantage of flexible scheduling due to partnerships with Bluegrass Community & Technical College and EKU’s numerous campuses. Day and evening classes are available, and several courses are offered online.

      • Estimated Program Cost: $30,144 for state residents; $66,432 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per-semester tuition for full-time students)
      • Prerequisites: 2.0 GPA, ACT composite score of 20 or above or SAT combined math and verbal score of at least 950
      • ABA Approved: Yes (on campus only)
      • Format: On campus or hybrid (on campus and online)

      Sample required courses:

      • Legal Administration and Computer Applications
      • Criminal Law Practice and Procedure
      • Administrative Agency Practice
      • Litigation: Evidence to Discovery
      • Litigation: Trial to Appeal
    • Morehead State University (MSU)

      Morehead State University (MSU) offers affordable educational programs and in 2013 G.I. Jobs magazine ranked it among the top 20 percent of veteran-friendly colleges in the nation for the fifth year in a row. Its Bachelor of Arts in legal studies prepares graduates to work under the supervision of attorneys or to enter law school. All legal studies professors are licensed practicing attorneys, and classes are small, allowing for greater interaction. Students have the opportunity to work with actual clients and have access to the latest legal technology.

      • Estimated Program Cost: $29,992 for state residents; $74,984 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per-semester tuition)
      • Prerequisites: High school transcript, ACT or SAT scores
      • ABA Approved: Yes
      • Format: On campus

      Sample required courses:

      • Criminal Law & Procedure
      • Pretrial Litigation
      • Contracts & the UCC
      • Torts

    Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

    • Eastern Kentucky University

      Richmond, Kentucky

      Degrees Offered: post-baccalaureate certificate, Associate in Applied Science

    • Professional Organizations

      • The Greater Lexington Paralegal Association, Inc. (GLPA) gives members access to a job bank, newsletters, monthly lunch meetings with continuing legal education (CLE) credit and opportunities to network and participate in philanthropic events. Members benefit from this organization’s association with the Fayette County Bar Association.
      • The Kentucky Paralegal Association (KPA) serves as a unified voice for Kentucky paralegals, encourages educational programs and training of paralegals and promotes continuing education. It runs a voluntary certification program for paralegals in the state.