How Much Do Paralegals Make on Average (Salary)

How much do paralegals make? What's the average paralegal salary? A paralegal is a legal assistant who assists a lawyer with outsourced legal tasks. They are responsible for a range of duties, including file maintenance and organization, document preparation, and legal research.

paralegal salary

Paralegals operate in a variety of settings, although the majority of them work for law firms, government agencies, or corporate legal departments.

What is a paralegal?

Paralegals are individuals who have been educated to help attorneys in a variety of legal roles. Paralegal responsibilities are more responsible than clerical jobs and cover a wide variety of substantive legal work. Paralegals perform legal and factual research, create legal documents, assist clients, and handle cases. Many paralegals work on hard and interesting projects that would normally be handled by attorneys or a law firm. Paralegals are not authorized to give legal services directly to the public unless the law allows it.

paralegal salary

What does a paralegal do?

Lawyers use paralegals to assist them in preparing for trials, hearings, and business meetings. A paralegal's responsibilities can differ depending on the size of the organization or company, particularly in a smaller firm.

Paralegals are generally responsible for the following tasks:

  • Assist attorneys during trials.
  • Investigate laws, legal papers, and regulations.
  • Keep case-related information in computer databases to organize and display.
  • Write reports to assist attorneys in preparing for trials.
  • Investigate a case's facts.
  • Draft letters and papers like mortgages and contracts.
  • Obtain official statements and affidavits that might be utilized in court.

Paralegals can create written reports to assist attorneys in deciding how to handle their cases, in addition to evaluating and organizing material. Paralegals can assist attorneys in drafting papers and preparing legal arguments to be filed with the court if they decide to bring cases on behalf of clients.

Rather of managing a case from start to finish, paralegals who work for larger companies focus on a certain portion of the case. A litigation paralegal, for example, might solely analyze legal documents for internal use, do research for attorneys, keep reference files, and gather and arrange evidence for hearings. Although litigation paralegals are rarely present at trials, they can negotiate settlement agreements or prepare trial papers.

In order to prepare for trials and manage records, law firms are increasingly relying on computer tools and technology. To prepare presentations and write and index documents, paralegals utilize computer applications. Paralegals must also be up to speed on the newest tools for electronic discovery and have a working knowledge of electronic database administration. All electronic items connected to a trial, such as data, emails, accounting databases, documents, and websites, are referred to as electronic discovery.

paralegal salary

By specializing in diverse areas, paralegals can take on additional responsibility. Litigation, corporate law, criminal law, personal injury, employee benefits, intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, real estate, and family law are examples of these fields. Experienced paralegals can also take on supervisory roles, such as assigning work to other paralegals or managing team projects.

Paralegal vs. legal assistant

Paralegals are primarily concerned with the details of the law, whereas legal assistants are responsible for a broader range of responsibilities.

How much do paralegals make? (average salary)

A paralegal's average annual pay in the United States is $51,024 per year. The pay of a paralegal varies depending on their level of expertise, geographic region, and place of employment. Paralegals who work for the federal government, for example, often earn the most, whereas those who work for a state government frequently earn the least. Additionally, paralegals who work for law firms with more than five attorneys often earn more than those who work for companies with less than five attorneys.

Average paralegal salaries by state

Here's how much paralegals make based on their geography. Average annual salary by state:

  • Alabama: $45,530 per year
  • Alaska: $59,140 per year
  • Arizona: $48,370 per year
  • Arkansas: $42,050 per year
  • California: $61,240 per year
  • Colorado: $58,350 per year
  • Connecticut: $62,760 per year
  • Delaware: $57,290 per year
  • District of Columbia: $80,470 per year
  • Florida: $50,120 per year
  • Georgia: $54,130 per year
  • Hawaii: $52,280 per year
  • Idaho: $46,510 per year
  • Illinois: $57,180 per year
  • Indiana: $49,090 per year
  • Iowa: $46,990 per year
  • Kansas: $43,790 per year
  • Kentucky: $46,310 per year
  • Louisiana: $50,540 per year
  • Maine: $49,490 per year
  • Maryland: $55,950 per year
  • Massachusetts: $60,320 per year
  • Michigan: $50,590 per year
  • Minnesota: $56,880 per year
  • Mississippi: $44,300 per year
  • Missouri: $53,110 per year
  • Montana: $44,330 per year
  • Nebraska: $49,250 per year
  • Nevada: $57,600 per year
  • New Hampshire: $54,550 per year
  • New Jersey: $58,260 per year
  • New Mexico: $48,050 per year
  • New York: $58,750 per year
  • North Carolina: $47,210 per year
  • North Dakota: $45,870 per year
  • Ohio: $49,200 per year
  • Oklahoma: $48,330 per year
  • Oregon: $55,850 per year
  • Pennsylvania: $52,780 per year
  • Rhode Island: $50,650 per year
  • South Carolina: $45,480 per year
  • South Dakota: $49,560 per year
  • Tennessee: $49,050 per year
  • Texas: $56,270 per year
  • Utah: $49,140 per year
  • Vermont: $50,570 per year
  • Virginia: $51,600 per year
  • Washington: $60,940 per year
  • West Virginia: $46,080 per year
  • Wisconsin: $50,360 per year
  • Wyoming: $46,770 per year

Paralegal salary information provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (source).

Per hour

The national average annual wage is $22 per hour.

Per month

The national average annual wage is $3,807 per month.

Per week

The national average annual wage is $878 per week.

Paralegal qualifications

Here's what's required to become a paralegal:

Undergraduate paralegal certificate

Most paralegal employment demand an undergraduate credential in paralegal studies as a bare minimum. This credential is available through a community college or a private institution. This certification might take anything from a few months to a year to achieve and usually requires between 20 and 29 credits. Tort law, wills and trusts, civil law, legal writing, legal research, and criminal processes and practice are some of the topics covered in this certification course.

Associate degree

While a certificate in paralegal studies is the bare minimum, most paralegals go on to earn an associate degree in paralegal studies to help them stand out from the crowd and expand their expertise. A paralegal associate degree usually takes two years to complete and consists of 60 courses.

Bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is frequently the suggested path of study for paralegals who want to advance in their careers. A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies will qualify you for positions with bigger law firms or companies, as well as meet NFPA, NALA, and ABA requirements. A bachelor's degree also enables you to select specialized courses that will assist you in seeking a job in a certain legal specialization.

Job outlook

From 2016 to 2026, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to rise 15%, significantly faster than the average for all occupations.

Law companies are likely to recruit more paralegals and legal assistants as they attempt to improve the efficiency of legal services while lowering expenses. Paralegals and legal assistants might take on a "hybrid" function inside the business in certain situations, doing not just typical paralegal responsibilities but also some of the tasks formerly given to legal secretaries or other legal support employees.

As consumers demand lower-cost legal services, law firms are likewise seeking to cut billing expenses. Paralegals can be a less expensive alternative to attorneys due to their reduced billing rates to customers, doing a wide range of activities previously performed by entry-level lawyers. The need for paralegals and legal assistants should rise as a result of this.

Despite the fact that law firms will continue to employ the majority of paralegals, several multinational businesses are expanding their in-house legal departments to save money. For many businesses, the high expense of outside counsel makes having an in-house legal department more cost effective. Legal personnel will be in higher demand in a number of contexts, including banking and insurance businesses, consulting firms, and healthcare providers.

Common questions

Questions from prospective legal professionals:

Who makes the most as a paralegal?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (source), paralegals in the federal government tend to make the greatest money ($70,040), while paralegals in state government make the least money ($48,970). Average salaries are for those in an entry-level position ($26,994).

How can I earn more as a paralegal?

A candidate with paralegal certification is more likely to be offered a higher pay than someone with no paralegal training. However, a paralegal's salary is mostly determined by their level of experience and focus area. Many law firms hire based on credentials.

paralegal salary

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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