How Much Do Paralegals Make?

paralegal job descriptionParalegals or legal assistants have a variety of duties and responsibilities that support the work of lawyers.

These duties include organizing legal documents, doing research, setting up schedules and appointments with other lawyers, clients, and witnesses, as well as to prepare evidence for trials.

Paralegals work in a variety of organizations such as law firms but they also work in government agencies as well as private corporations with in-house legal counsels.

They also work in finance and insurance, conducting legal research and interviews. Their work environment involves working indoors in an office, in the field gathering information, and in courthouses.

Paralegal Salary

How much do paralegals make? The average annual paralegal salary is $50,940 or $24.49 per hour. The lower 10% earns an annual average of $31,400 while the upper 10% earns an annual average of $82,050.

paralegal salaryAverage annual salaries also differ in terms of industry. Paralegals that work in the federal government earn an annual average of $67,340, while those who work in finance and insurance earn an average of $62,020. Those who work in the local government earn an average of $50,400, while those who work in legal services earn an average of $48,880, and those who work in the state government earn an average of $46,970.

Paralegals who work in large firms in large cities earn the most and have the most employment opportunities.

A paralegal starting salary depends on the size of the law firm, the industry, and the qualifications of a paralegal. There are several ways to become a paralegal from on the job training to master’s degrees.

Top 5 Paying States

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alaska FlagAlaska1.74$31.21$64,920
California FlagCalifornia1.99$29.30$60,940
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey1.60$27.69$57,600
Washington FlagWashington 1.85$27.21$56,590
New York FlagNew York2.57$27.02
$56,200

Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Electronic Component Manufacturing 0.03$39.81$82,810
Software Publishers0.09$37.03$77,030
Professional and Commercial Equipment – Supplies Merchant, Wholesalers0.05$35.00$72,810
Information Services $34.90$72,580
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing 0.03$34.87$72,530

Paralegal Job Description

what does a paralegal doParalegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks that assist and support a lawyer’s job. These involve maintaining and organizing documents, be it paper or electronic, conduct legal research, and draft legal documents.

Paralegals also help lawyers prepare for trials through reserving an office space, preparing evidence, and organizing needed documents.

They work in a variety of organizations such as law firms, corporate settings, and government agencies. A paralegal’s job is full time and working overtime, over holidays and weekends are often required when meeting a deadline or an upcoming trial.

Among the specific duties of a paralegal includes investigating the facts of a case, conducting interviews, and researching laws and regulations. they also gather and arrange evidence to present to the attorney for review and case preparation. Paralegals are also in charge of maintaining and organizing documents, and storing them in electronic files.

Their other duties involve drafting legal documents such as contracts, affidavits, and other formal statements. They are also in charge of calling clients, witnesses, and other lawyers and are responsible for scheduling interviews, meetings, and depositions.

Paralegals who work in smaller firms and smaller cities often do a wide variety of tasks while those who work in larger firms often do specific tasks such as working on one case from start to finish. They can also specialize in a specific field such as litigation, family law, immigration, special injury, corporate law, employee benefits, criminal law, intellectual property, real estate, or bankruptcy.

Senior paralegals in larger firms also oversee special projects where they delegate duties to a team of other paralegals.

There is a total of 277,000 jobs for paralegals in the country, with the industry of legal services employing the most number with 72%. The federal government employs 5% of this total number of paralegals, while the local government also employs 5%, and the state government employs 4%. The finance and insurance industry employs 3% of this total number.

Paralegal Job Outlook

The projected increase in paralegal jobs from 2016 to 2026 is 15%, which is faster than the average. More and more corporate companies will decide to have in-house legal counsels with the growth of their companies, leading to more demand for paralegals in the corporate industry.

Law firms who want to reduce lawyers’ fees are also seen to contribute to the increase of demand for paralegals since certain duties can be performed by a paralegal rather than an actual lawyer.

From 2016 to 2026, about 41,800 jobs are seen to be created, opening up more employment opportunities for paralegals.

Paralegals who have experience, formal training, and are equipped with the latest knowledge in electronic documentation are seen to have the most prospects in terms of job opportunities.

Paralegal Salary by State

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alabama FlagAlabama1.201$22.04$45,830
Alaska FlagAlaska1.74$31.21$64,920
Arizona FlagArizona1.883$23.74$49,390
Arkansas FlagArkansas1.183$19.21$39,960
California FlagCalifornia1.988$29.30$60,940
Colorado flagColorado2.268$25.11$52,240
Connecticut FlagConnecticut3.158$25.27$52,550
Delaware flagDelaware3.007$26.77$55,680
Florida FlagFlorida3$23.41$48,690
Georgia FlagGeorgia2.048$26.55$55,210
Hawaii FlagHawaii1.903$24.75$51,490
Idaho FlagIdaho1.49$19.87$41,330
Illinois FlagIllinois2.093$23.57$49,020
Indiana FlagIndiana1.304$20.85$43,370
Iowa FlagIowa1.566$21.57$44,860
Kansas FlagKansas1.363$20.57$42,790
Kentucky FlagKentucky1.7$21.51$44,730
Louisiana FlagLouisiana1.852$20.50$42,640
Maine FlagMaine1.717$21.37$44,450
Maryland FlagMaryland2.239$25.18$52,360
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts2.016$26.22$54,540
Michigan FlagMichigan1.312$23.00$47,850
Minnesota FlagMinnesota1.895$25.31$52,640
Mississippi FlagMississippi1.365$21.23$44,160
Missouri FlagMissouri1.86$22.73$47,270
Montana FlagMontana2.132$21.24$44,180
Nebraska FlagNebraska1.425$21.06$43,810
Nevada FlagNevada1.831$23.96$49,840
New Hampshire FlagNew Hampshire2.015$22.90$47,630
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey1.599$27.69$57,600
New Mexico FlagNew Mexico1.668$20.65$42,940
New York FlagNew York2.572$27.02$56,200
North Carolina FlagNorth Carolina2.371$21.21$44,120
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota1.152$20.19$42,000
Ohio FlagOhio1.439$22.10$45,960
Oklahoma FlagOklahoma2.016$20.77$43,200
Oregon FlagOregon1.628$26.66$55,460
Pennsylvania FlagPennsylvania1.79$25.86$53,780
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island2.425$24.21$50,350
South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina2.726$20.39$42,410
South Dakota FlagSouth Dakota1.082$21.06$43,810
Tennessee FlagTennessee1.563$23.59$49,070
Texas FlagTexas1.903$24.93$51,850
Utah FlagUtah1.953$20.44$42,510
Vermont FlagVermont2.058$22.74$47,300
Virginia FlagVirginia2.352$25.18$52,370
Washington FlagWashington1.847$27.21$56,590
West Virginia FlagWest Virginia3.082$19.63$40,830
Wisconsin FlagWisconsin1.474$22.27$46,320
Wyomin FlagWyoming1.902$21.70$45,140

Top paying metropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Washington/Arlington/Alexandria, DC/VA/MD/WV, Metropolitan Division4.14$33.59$69,880
San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City – CA, Metropolitan Division3.06$33.56$69,800
San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara- CA3.10$32.52$67,640
Anchorage, AK 2.41$32.28$67,150
Los Angeles / Long Beach / Glendale, – CA – Metropolitan Division 1.97$31.42$65,350

Top paying nonmetropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Southeast Alaska -nonmetropolitan area1.10$30.71$63,880
North Coast Region – California, nonmetropolitan area1.01$27.97$58,170
Railbelt – Southwest Alaska – nonmetropolitan area 0.56$27.42$57,040
Hawaii – Maui – Kauai – nonmetropolitan area 0.99$26.80$55,750
East – Central New York – nonmetropolitan area 0.96$26.53$55,190

Paralegal Career Video

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Noel Griffith

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