What is a paralegal?

The American Bar Association defines a paralegal as:

      “A person, qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

How do I become a paralegal?

Several of Idaho’s colleges and universities offer paralegal education.  To date, the only paralegal program that received ABA approval was the former Paralegal Studies program at Boise State University. 

If you are planning to invest time and money into a paralegal program, the AAfPE, the Association for Paralegal Education, suggests a program that is long-term and includes 60 hours of classroom instruction with an internship component.  They do not recommend internet paralegal programs or programs that are as short as six to eight weeks. 

For more information about programs at Idaho’s public universities, go to their web sites:

Idaho State University:

Lewis-Clark State College:

North Idaho College:

How can I find a paralegal to help me with my legal matter?

Idaho Code 3-420 prohibits non lawyers from giving legal advice and performing duties that determine or secure legal rights and obligations.  Paralegals must perform their duties under the supervision of an attorney.  The Idaho State Bar has prosecuted individuals who “practice law” without a license.  The Idaho State Bar has an attorney referral service at (208) 334-4500.  Those who cannot afford an attorney can call the Idaho State Bar to learn if they qualify for a no-fee attorney through the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program.

Do I need a license to be a paralegal?

Idaho does not regulate paralegals in any way.  There is no registration, licensure or certification by the State of Idaho.  There are no restrictions or requirements for an individual to call themselves a paralegal.  However, many employers prefer paralegals to have completed an ABA-approved or structured paralegal program and/or have a college degree.

I am a student in a paralegal program.  How can I become a member before I am actually a paralegal?

IAP has a student membership category.  It entitles you to all the benefits of membership except the voting rights that active members enjoy.  You will receive notice of all the luncheons, seminars, newsletters, volunteer opportunities; and our members-only Job Bank Announcements.

What are the benefits of becoming a member?

Members of the Idaho Association of Paralegals, Inc. receive notice of all the luncheons, seminars, newsletters, volunteer opportunities; and our members-only Job Bank Announcements.  Members attend IAP sponsored seminars at a discounted rate.  Active members have voting privileges to elect officers and can hold positions on the Board of Directors.

Do I have to be a member to attend the luncheons?

No!  Notice of upcoming events is on our website:  However, members receive an email reminder announcing the speaker, topic and location for each upcoming education meeting.  We recommend RSVPing for the meetings to ensure handouts for all attendees.

How do I obtain more information about becoming a member of the Idaho Association of Paralegals?

Click on the "IAP Membership Application" on the Forms page for an application for membership.

Why do I have to provide my transcripts with my membership application?

IAP’s Bylaws have requirements for the “clock hour” requirements of the paralegal program you attended.  Not all programs are structured or approved by the American Bar Association.

How can I obtain IAP’s Job Bank Announcements?

The Job Bank is one of the benefits that only IAP members enjoy.  Employers that utilize our Job Bank include law firms, corporations and government agencies.  They appreciate that our Job Bank reaches qualified, experienced paralegals.

How do I post a Job Bank Announcement through IAP?

There is no cost for employers to advertise a position for a full time or part time, temporary or permanent paralegal position through the Idaho Association of Paralegals, Inc.  Contact our Vice President of Policy & Public Affairs to post a Job Bank Announcement.  This is a very effective way to hire a qualified, experienced paralegal.

Is the Idaho Association of Paralegals, Inc. the only association in Idaho?

IAP is a statewide association with members working in Eastern and Northern Idaho; however, IAP is not Idaho’s only paralegal association.  Eastern Idaho’s local association is the Intermountain Paralegal Association.  Together, IAP and IPA work on issues that affect paralegals for the entire state through the Idaho Association of Paralegal Alliances.

Why is IAP not affiliated with either NALA or NFPA?

Some individual IAP members are also members of one of the national associations.  Both national associations assess dues to affiliated associations.  Our National Affairs Representative receives the published magazines of both organizations to stay apprised of issues facing the paralegal profession on a national level.

What is a “certified” paralegal?

A certified paralegal is a person who has applied to take and successfully completed an examination administered by one of the national organizations.   NALA’s exam is the Certified Legal Assistant exam and passing that exam allows the individual to use the “CLA” or “CP” (Certified Legal Assistant or Certified Paralegal) designation after their name.  Once that designation is obtained, a specialized exam can be taken to earn the “CLAS” (Specialist) designation.  NFPA’s exam is the PACE exam and passing that exam allows the individual to use the “RP” (Registered Paralegal) designation.

There is much confusion about what a “certified” paralegal is versus a paralegal who has obtained a certificate in paralegal studies.  A certificate in paralegal studies is a “certificated” paralegal, not “certified.”

For more information on NALA go to

For more information on NFPA go to

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