Becoming a Paralegal in the Wild, Wild West
The United States was divided into four major regions by the Census Bureau, as shown in the map to the right. The Western Region consists of 13 states (shown in orange), and is is further segregated into the following two divisions:
- The Pacific States: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington
- The Mountain States: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
The links for each of the states above opens a page which directs you to various paralegal schools and training programs which have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), and provides further links to other paralegal training programs which have been accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Each of the states’ pages also discusses some of the bar associations within the state, as well as various local paralegal associations. If research work for paralegal schools in the state is not yet completed, the link will open to a Wikipedia page about the state.
Make sure you take advantage of any networking opportunities which may be available to you, as your education is only the means to the end you desire – the optimal job offer. If you have not done anything to set your resume apart from all the other resumes flooding prospective employers, you’re chances of being noticed and hired will be significantly reduced. In this new economy, simply responding to help wanted ads with a resume addressed “To Whom It May Concern” isn’t going to get the job done.
Your networking efforts should include contacting a variety of potential employers, from law firms to corporate headquarters employing paralegals (banks, stock brokers, nearly any sizable manufacturer, etc), governmental agencies… Inquire about available internships and about educational requirements. Do they require an ABA approved or ACICS accredited educational program – or will an online paralegal program do? Will a paralegal certificate open the door for employment, or do they require an associates or bachelors diploma? Your mission is to gather information for your use as much as it is to make sure they know of you before they post a ‘Help Wanted' ad.
If you should decide to live and work in one of the states that make up the Western region, take some time to evaluate the living and working conditions in the area that interests you. Unlike the other three regions that make up the remainder of the United States, the Western Region has a relatively diverse makeup, with the Mountainous States having an entirely different climate and lifestyle than the Pacific States. Both the Mountainous States and the Pacific States are significantly different than Alaska or Hawaii, and each of the latter two states are wildly different from one another.