Western New York Paralegal Association
As defined by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, a Paralegal is a person, qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work. Substantive shall mean work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts. (As defined by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. www.paralegals.org)
WNYPA is headquartered in Buffalo, New York, located in Erie County, NY. In addition to Erie County, our membership area includes the five (5) counties that are contiguous to Erie County: Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua. Genesee County also borders on Monroe County, the home of the Paralegal Association of Rochester, Inc. ("PAR"); Genesee County paralegals and paralegal students may choose to belong to either WNYPA or PAR. Both WNYPA and PAR are affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations ("NFPA"), and both associations are members of the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations ("ESAPA"). Links to both the NFPA and ESAPA web sites are provided on our home page.
The seven (7) existing professional associations for paralegals in New York State are the: Adirondack Paralegal Association, Capital District Paralegal Association, Long Island Paralegal Association, Onondaga County Bar Association Paralegals Committee, Oswego County Paralegal Association, Paralegal Association of Rochester and Western New York Paralegal Association.
Contact information for the other six (6) can be found on the Online Resources page of this web site. If you find that there is no conveniently located professional association in your area, why not consider joining with other paralegals in your vicinity to establish one. You can obtain assistance in forming an association by contacting the Vice President and Director of Membership of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations ("NFPA") at VPDM@paralegals.org.
There are presently no licensing requirements to work as a paralegal in New York State. As a member of the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations ("ESAPA"), the Western New York Paralegal Association, Inc. ("WNYPA") subscribes to the educational standards set forth in the ESAPA "Position Statement on Paralegal Education in New York State." You can review these paralegal education standards on the ESAPA web site by using the convenient ESAPA link on our home page.Back to Top
There are presently no licensing requirements to work as a paralegal in New York State. Requirements for employment are established by individual employers and can vary considerably depending on the area of specialization involved. Most employers use education or some combination of education and experience when evaluating candidates for employment. We encourage you to read the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations' ("ESAPA") Position Paper on Education published on their web site. Use the ESAPA link on our home page to access their site. Paralegal salaries vary considerably depending on the area of specialization and area of the state in which you are employed. That is why it is important to determine which of the seven (7) paralegal associations in the state is geographically closest to the locale where you hope to work and contact them directly. Most associations conduct periodic surveys that address salaries and working conditions in their respective areas. However, you may find that there is a charge to obtain a copy of the survey results. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations ("NFPA") also tracks paralegal salaries by geographic area. Visit their web site, www.paralegals.org, to find out how you can order a copy of their survey results. Start by using the NFPA link on our home page.Back to Top
Finding an entry level paralegal position in the Western New York area probably requires more resourcefulness and perseverance than in many other areas of the state. Because of the large number of local academic institutions offering paralegal programs, there may be many candidates competing for a limited number of positions. Some area employers are able to fill entry level positions by simply contacting the placement office of area colleges with paralegal programs. This may work to your advantage if you graduated at the head of your class, but be prepared to exercise personal initiative as well. Networking is an excellent way to learn about positions and employers most likely to be hiring in your chosen specialty area, and joining the Western New York Paralegal Association is an excellent way to begin the networking process. Student members enjoy the lowest due assessment, are entitled to a reduced registration fee at our annual seminar and are eligible to participate in the Association's mentor program. They also have access to our on-line listing of employment opportunities. Click on the "Membership" link for more information on membership benefits, qualifications and dues. You can also print out an application form and find instructions for completing and submitting your membership application. Click on "Discussion Forum" and view the Association's Calendar to find out about the types of activities, committees and continuing education opportunities available to all of our members. The "Leadership Team" page also includes a direct email link to the membership vice president.
This is a common misconception among both recent graduates and employers. You are a "certificated" rather than a "certified" paralegal. If you are applying for a position that requires an applicant to be "certified," you may wish to verify the prospective employer definition of "certified." Only an individual who has successfully completed the voluntary certification examination given by the National Association of Legal Assistants ("NALA") is entitled to identify him/herself as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP). Likewise, an experienced paralegal who has successfully completed the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination ("PACE") administered by The National Federation of Paralegal Associations ("NFPA") is entitled to use the title "Registered Paralegal" and the designation "RP" after his or her name. Both certifying bodies require continuing legal education to retain any of these designations. Obtaining any one of these titles is a significant accomplishment. The number of Certified Legal Assistants, Certified Paralegals and Registered Paralegals in New York State is very small compared with the number of currently employed individuals identifying themselves as paralegals or legal assistants. If you wish to learn more about the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination ("PACE"), go to our PACE page to connect to the NFPA web site or visit our Leadership Team page for an email link to WNYPA's Pace Ambassador.Back to Top
WNYPA does not evaluate, endorse, or discredit any paralegal education program. We can, however, point you to the Position Statement on Paralegal Education Standards in New York State which have been presented by the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations ('ESAPA"). To view this Position Statement, please visit the ESAPA website: http://empirestateparalegals.org/ The Paralegal Education Standards in New York State can be found under the sub-heading "Position Statements".