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Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies.Education
There are several paths a person can take to become a paralegal. Candidates can enroll in a community college paralegal program to earn an associate’s degree. However, many employers prefer, or even require, applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Because only a small number of schools offer bachelor’s and master's degrees in paralegal studies, applicants typically have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and earn a certificate in paralegal studies.
Associate’s and bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies usually offer paralegal training courses in legal research, legal writing, and the legal applications of computers, along with courses in other academic subjects, such as corporate law and international law. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for people who already hold college degrees.
Employers sometimes hire college graduates with no legal experience or legal education and train them on the job. In these cases, the new employee may have experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such tax preparation, nursing, or criminal justice.Other Experience
In many cases, employers prefer candidates who have at least 1 year of experience in a law firm or other office setting. In addition, a technical understanding of a specific legal specialty can be helpful. For example, a personal-injury law firm may desire a paralegal with a background in nursing or health administration.
Work experience in a law firm or other office setting is particularly important for people who do not have formal paralegal training.
Many paralegal training programs offer an internship, in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a private law firm, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a corporate legal department, a legal aid organization, or a government agency. Internship experience helps students improve their technical skills and can enhance their employment prospects.Certifications
Although not required, some employers may prefer to hire applicants who have completed a paralegal certification program. Many national and local paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to students able to pass an exam. Other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications for paralegals who meet certain experience and education criteria. For more information about paralegal certifications, see the More Info section.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney.
Computer skills. Paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support. They also use computer programs for organizing and maintaining important documents.
Interpersonal skills. Paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships. They must make clients feel comfortable sharing personal information related to their cases.
Organizational skills. Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time. They must adapt quickly to changing deadlines.
Research skills. Paralegals need good research and investigative skills to conduct legal research.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Paralegal
Top Careers After Paralegal
Hispanic or Latino12.1%
Black or African American0.6%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
University of Phoenix14.1%
George Washington University5.2%
University of Maryland - University College4.4%
Fairleigh Dickinson University4.0%
Florida International University3.9%
New York University3.7%
Thomas M. Cooley Law School3.6%
University of Central Florida3.6%
Montclair State University3.6%
University of San Diego3.6%
New York Law School3.5%
University of Connecticut3.5%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Paralegal III||Amazon Corporate LLC||Seattle, WA||Jan 02, 2016||$122,000|
|Paralegal||Jarvis, Krieger and Sullivan LLP||Long Beach, CA||Apr 01, 2015||$90,000 -
|Paralegal||Baker and McKenzie LLP||Chicago, IL||Jan 08, 2016||$80,000|
|Paralegal||BP Management LP||New York, NY||Oct 31, 2015||$80,000|
|Paralegal||Baker and McKenzie LLP||Chicago, IL||Feb 22, 2016||$80,000|
|Supervisory Paralegal||Law Offices of Rakesh Mehrotra||Reston, VA||Jul 29, 2015||$75,774|
|Paralegal||Benchmark Electronics, Inc.||Angleton, TX||Aug 13, 2015||$73,000 -
|Business/Transnational Paralegal||Marili Cancio Johnson P.A.||Miami, FL||Dec 27, 2016||$68,702|
|Paralegal||Just Energy (U.S) Corp||Houston, TX||May 13, 2015||$66,790|
|Paralegal||Reid & Wise LLC||New York, NY||Sep 20, 2016||$65,219|
|Paralegal||J.Bruce Weinman, ESQ.||New York, NY||Sep 30, 2015||$62,941|
|Paralegal||Winston & Strawn LLP||New York, NY||Sep 15, 2015||$62,610|
|Paralegal||Baker and McKenzie LLP||Chicago, IL||Apr 15, 2016||$62,000|
|Paralegal||Cohen & Gresser, LLP||New York, NY||Jul 15, 2016||$61,152|
|Paralegal||Eric S. Montalvo PLLC||Washington, DC||Sep 11, 2015||$45,000|
|Paralegal Researcher||Webb Development Services Corp.||Mount Vernon, NY||Sep 22, 2015||$45,000|
|Paralegal||I.S. Law Firm, PLLC||Alexandria, VA||Sep 23, 2016||$45,000|
|Paralegal||MacMurray and Associates||Boston, MA||Jan 26, 2015||$44,750|
|Paralegal||Financial Legal Group, Inc.||Miami, FL||Nov 18, 2015||$44,620|
|Paralegal||Shimokaji & Associates, P.C.||Irvine, CA||Jan 08, 2016||$39,653|
|Paralegal||Law Office of Z. Tan PLLC||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$39,000|
|Paralegal||Shenlaw LLC||New York, NY||Sep 24, 2016||$38,610|
|Paralegal||Law Office of Charles Jason Lore||New York, NY||Dec 09, 2016||$38,401|
|Paralegal||The Chugh Firm, APC||Edison, NJ||May 23, 2016||$38,334|
|Paralegal||Law Office of Joan Xie, PC||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$38,296 -
|Paralegal||Karikari and Associates PC||New York, NY||Sep 22, 2016||$38,296|
|Paralegal||Law Offices of Corey T. Lee, PLLC.||New York, NY||Sep 17, 2016||$38,296|
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Paralegal: Job Profile
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