The pay is one of the biggest concerns that give aspiring paralegals second thoughts about joining the industry. That’s expected, mainly because of the lack of prestige associated with this line of work; but that is no longer the case.
As the industry continues to evolve, the role of legal assistants is now more important than ever. While attorneys, by all means, remain as the most important professionals in a law firm or a corporate legal setting, there are functions only paralegals can effectively handle. With the profession is finally getting the long overdue respect it deserves.
Expected Incomes for Paralegals
In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median income for a paralegal was an estimated $49,500 annually. This results in paralegals being around medium-wage earners, but given that this is a median result, there are exceptions. Paralegals who work for nongovernment organizations with relatively limited resources would likely earn less than those employed at corporate law firms, for example.
If you’re already working as a paralegal and are looking for ways to boost your income, you may want to consider taking the certification exam provided by the National Association for Legal Assistants (NALA). Their exam may offer the extra credential you might be looking for to make your resume more impressive.
Also, consider taking courses in fields that are related to your job as a paralegal. E-learning courses are available throughout the web, and can be scheduled according to the learner’s preferences. These are convenient ways to add to the skill set and make you more attractive to prospective employers.
According to the survey of Paralegal Today, the industry has seen a steady rise in the compensation of legal assistants since 2009. As one of the fastest-growing careers in the world, the average income in this profession plays at about $50,000 a year, but bonuses and overtime pays are what makes a paralegal’s wallet plumper.
In addition, the increase in caseloads is a good indicator that this growth in salary would continue.
Depending on Your Specialty
Paralegals are not paid equally. Your paycheck is heavily based on your area of specialty, which is why it pays to take an advanced course that can help you land a job in prestigious firms.
Paralegal Salaries at Law Firms
For paralegals working at law firms, the main determinant of salary seems to be the size of the firm. This makes perfect sense: larger firms tend to have bigger, higher profile clients who are more willing to pay for more billable hours. Consequently, members of these firms, whether partners, associates, or paralegals, have a bigger pie to split. Of course, that also means competition to join these A-list firms is often quite intense.
A 2016 survey indicated that small firms, or those with between 10 and 35 attorneys on staff, paid between an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 annually for entry-level paralegals with two to three years of experience. Mid-level paralegals, with between four and six years of experience, could expect to make between $44,000 and $60,000 at a small law firm, while senior paralegals, with more than seven years of experience, could expect between $50,000 and almost $70,000.
The same survey indicated that entry-level paralegals working at a midsize firm of between 35 and 75 lawyers could expect annual compensation from around $43,000 to $57,000. Mid-level paralegals would probably make between $58,000 and $73,000, while senior paralegals and supervisors could be making between $67,000 and $83,000 annually.
As mentioned, the biggest firms pay the most so entry-level paralegals at a firm of more than 75 lawyers will probably be paid between $44,000 and $60,000, while mid-level paralegals can expect compensation of between $62,000 and $75,000, and seniors can receive salaries starting at around $70,000, up to almost $100,000.
Corporate Law and Paralegals
Instead of becoming part of a firm, a paralegal may instead apply to become an employee of a company’s legal department. For purposes of these estimates, those are the kinds of corporate paralegals referred to here: paralegals who have been hired as employees by in-house legal departments. In general, these paralegals can expect to make a little more than their fellows who work at firms.
Entry-level paralegals working at companies with revenue of up to $25 million in revenue could expect salaries between $41,000 and $52,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, mid-level paralegals were making between $52,000 and around $62,000, while senior paralegals and supervisors could expect between $62,000 and around $78,000 from these relatively small companies.
Medium-sized companies, with between $25 million and $250 million in revenue, would typically pay their entry-level paralegals between $46,000 and $58,000. Mid-level paralegals could typically expect between $56,000 and $68,000, while senior paralegals would probably be making from $68,000 to around $89,000 annually.
Finally, the biggest companies would naturally pay their people the most, so companies with annual revenue of in excess of $250 million would pay an entry-level paralegal between $50,000 and in excess of $60,000 annually. Midlevel paralegals could expect annual compensation of between $60,000 and $78,000 every year, and supervisory corporate paralegals made the most of all, taking home between $75,000 and an estimated $100,000 every year.
You have a bright future ahead of you as a paralegal, financially and professionally. Go through all of our offered courses to take the program that may earn you a generous compensation for the years to come. View our CLS courses here.