October 30, 2016


Paralegal Job Description

A paralegal supports an attorney by performing tasks like drafting legal documents, preparing research and organizing and updating case files. An attorney may ask a paralegal to investigate case facts or to compile legal opinion on part of a case. Additionally, a paralegal may take a deposition from a witness before a trial and help an attorney during a trial. Computer skills have become increasingly more important for paralegals because attorneys often organize their files in databases rather than in file cabinets. Also, paralegals need skills for finding items like legal articles on the Internet and for researching and writing e-mails.

Paralegal Salary Statistics as of 2015

Average annual salary for a Paralegal is $40766 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2015. The highest salary recorded was $62187. The lowest salary reported was $26911. These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.

Median hourly wage for a Paralegal is $14.69 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2015. The highest hourly rate recorded was $20.23. The lowest hourly rate recorded was $9.15. These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.

Bonuses for a Paralegal are based on the years of experience using statistics from the U.S. as of 2015. The average bonus recorded was $1499 from people with 15+ years of experience. The average bonus recorded was $195.18 from people with under 1 year of experience.

These are the highest paying states for a Paralegal. These numbers are based of the median annual salary as of 2015.
California – $32,274 – $72,302
Florida – $29,401 – $59,166
Georgia – $30,178 – $59,476
New Jersey – $29,500 – $59,706
New York – $29,778 – $66,995
Pennsylvania – $29,332 – $63,220
Texas – $29,701 – $62,444

These are the highest paying cities for a Paralegal. These numbers are based of the median annual salary as of 2015.
New York, New York –
Atlanta, Georgia –
Chicago, Illinois –
Seattle, Washington –
Washington, District of Columbia –
Houston, Texas –
Denver, Colorado –

This chart outlines the average annual salary of a Paralegal from the past 5 years. In 2015 the average annual salary was $40766 while in 2007 it was just $37805.67

Specialized Fields

  • Corporate paralegals: These paralegals often help companies to develop employee contracts, stock option plans, shareholder agreements and annual financial reporting. Some corporate paralegals keep track of new government regulations which affect businesses so that corporations are in compliance with the law.
  • Litigation paralegals: A paralegal who specializes in litigation keeps up with clients’ documents as well as researching case law and conducting interviews for witnesses. Litigation paralegals may also organize evidence for presentation at the trial or for use during depositions.
  • E-discovery: Paralegals with strong computer research skills may specialize in e-discovery. E-discovery specialists must produce e-mails, documents, presentations, databases, voicemails, video files, social media information and website-related evidence in response to requests for production in lawsuits or other litigated circumstances.
  • Other specialization options: Paralegals can have as many specialties as there are areas of the law. Good areas for specialization today include healthcare law, intellectual property, corporate law, immigration and real estate. Other common specialties include personal injury, workers’ compensation, family law or bankruptcy.

Work Environment

Most paralegals work in an office environment or in a law library. Most paralegals work in legal offices, while others work for state and local governments, federal government and the insurance and finance industries. Typically, a paralegal works full time, although some paralegals are hired temporarily to help with a work-intensive case. Long hours and overtime before case deadlines are quite common. For this reason, paralegals need to think carefully about the consequences of choosing salaried employment over hourly wages.

How to Become a Paralegal

Most paralegals earn associate degrees or certificates in Paralegal Studies from a community college. The educational costs are not close to those required for law school, but having only an associate degree or certificate will limit a paralegal’s earning potential and career options. In some cases, a lawyer will hire a person with a non-specific bachelor’s degree and provide the person with paralegal training. However, without a paralegal degree, the person may have limited options if he or she chooses to leave the practice.

After earning the degree or certificate, paralegals should consider obtaining certification. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) provides designations called Certified Paralegal or Advanced Paralegal. NALA also provides continuing education courses that allow both Certified and Advanced Paralegals to possess the training that they need to renew their certification. Certification is crucially important for a trained paralegal who does not have an associate degree or certificate. The qualification can open up multiple avenues for rewarding job growth and job change.

Job Outlook

The legal field should add 18 percent more paralegal jobs in the coming years, which is an increase that is comparable to most other professions. The NFPA notes that paralegals specializing in business, litigation and healthcare law have the best chance of being hired over the next decade.

To make themselves more marketable and to earn more money, paralegals can take courses in a new area of specialty. Experienced paralegals can often become supervisors or law office managers, which will increase both their stress and their rate of pay.

Gender Statistics

Related Jobs



Based on our stats gathered across the U.S. 13% of Paralegals were males while 87% were females. These numbers are based on averages across all states combined. Some individual states may have a much different ratio however.

Past Jobs

Legal Assistant
$22,757 – $52,627
Legal Secretary
$24,125 – $66,322
Administrative Assistant
$21,317 – $43,539

Future Jobs

Paralegal / Legal Assistant
$24,277 – $55,543
Corporate Paralegal
$36,688 – $80,036
Senior Paralegal
$38,064 – $83,228

Paralegal Jobs






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *