Become a Paralegal in North Dakota

A 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed 360 paralegals and legal assistants employed in North Dakota. The hourly mean wage was $20.85, with an annual mean wage of $43,370. However, this wage can vary greatly, with paralegals in the 10th percentile for income making $24,970 and those in the 90th percentile making $61,230. The amount that an individual paralegal earns is influenced by professional experience, educational background, certifications, location, hours worked and employer.

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Admittedly, North Dakota as a whole is not hotbed of paralegal careers, and the highest concentration of jobs are found in the Grand Forks, Bismarck and Fargo areas. It is clear from job postings that if you’re for a challenging career as a paralegal in the state, you will have greater opportunities if you invest in at least a basic legal education.

Paralegal Certification

Although there is no mandatory licensing or certification of paralegals in North Dakota, the North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct defines a legal assistant as someone who works under the direct supervision of a licensed lawyer and whose work product is the complete responsibility of the attorney.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in North Dakota

Paralegal Certificates

  • Rasmussen College

    Rasmussen College‘s paralegal program is based on recommendations of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Its paralegal certificate program is for those who already have an associate or bachelor’s degree. Unlike many certificate programs, this 61-credit program includes general education courses in addition to a core of legal courses and students’ choice of an internship or a capstone course.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $21,350 (based on 2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites: Associate or bachelor’s degree
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Law and the Legal System
    • Civil Litigation and Procedure I & II
    • Contracts: Managing Legal Relationships
    • Law Office Technology: Cyberspace and the Paralegal Profession
    • Legal Writing
  • Stratford Career Institute

    Stratford Career Institute is a correspondence school offering affordable career programs, including a legal assistant/paralegal program that results in a career diploma. Exams are taken online and students have unlimited access to instructors by email or toll-free phone. The program is completed in modules and covers topics including the role of the paralegal, litigation, criminal procedure and law.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $749 – $1049 (based on 2014 full-program tuition, including textbooks, study guides and learning aids)
    • Prerequisites: At least 18 years of age or the written signature of a parent or legal guardian
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Court Systems in the United States
    • Anatomy of a Criminal Prosecution
    • The Law Office Setting
    • Legal Research
    • Expert Witnesses and Trial Preparation

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Penn Foster College

    Penn Foster College offers career-focused distance learning programs. In an August 2013 U.S. News & World Report article about the costs of online education versus the cost of brick-and-mortar schools, this institution was highlighted as an online school that offers lower tuition rates. Its Associate of Science in paralegal studies familiarizes students with legal terminology, the U.S. court system, conducting legal investigations, legal writing and research, ethics and professional responsibility. This course of study can be completed in four semesters and is equivalent to 63 credit hours.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $3,555 (based on 2014 full-program tuition, including all books and learning materials)
    • Prerequisites: 17 years old; high school diploma or equivalent
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Legal Terminology and Critical Thinking
    • Information Literacy
    • Law and the Legal System
    • Investigations and Interviews
  • Rasmussen College

    Rasmussen College is a private for-profit institution with regional accreditation. Its paralegal Associate in Applied Science program prepares students to take the National Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal Examination (CLA/CP Exam). With a curriculum based on the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) recommendations, the program covers substantive and procedural law, along with law office technology and specialty areas of the law, in addition to a well-rounded general education. Rasmussen College offers 24/7 technical support, financial aid assistance, tutoring at no cost, access to librarians and career services.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $32,900 (based on 2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Requirements: Open admissions policy
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Computer Applications and Business Systems Concepts
    • Criminal Law and Procedures: Crime and the Courtroom
    • Introduction to Law & the Legal System
    • Paralegal Ethics

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Post University

    Post University was founded in 1890 in Waterbury, Connecticut and has developed a tradition of quality education using progressive means. It was an early adopter of online learning and in 2013 was mentioned on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Post’s online Bachelor of Science in legal studies pairs a comprehensive liberal arts education with a major program covering substantive and procedural law. Courses are interactive and students have frequent contact with professors who have advanced degrees and experience in the legal field. The program is conveniently offered in eight-week modules, six times a year. Courses are practice-based and students have access to the University Writing Center and one-to-one tutoring services at no additional charge.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $66,000 (based on 2013-2014 full-program tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Legal Writing
    • Civil Litigation Practice
    • E-Commerce: The Legal Context
    • Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law

Professional Organizations

  • The Red River Valley Paralegal Association (RRVPA) serves Eastern North Dakota and Western Minnesota. RRVPA promotes the utilization of paralegals and offers networking, developmental and educational opportunities to its members. The association is divided into two regions: the North Region (based in Grand Forks) and the South Region (based in Fargo). Student memberships are encouraged and provide opportunities for students to begin networking with legal professionals, find mentors and become familiar with area law firms and the legal community.
  • The Western Dakota Association of Legal Assistants (WDALA) serves western North Dakota. Founded in 1984, WDALA promotes networking, continuing education, professional and ethical conduct and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), with which it is associated. It sponsors two educational seminars each year, one in Bismarck and the other in Minot.