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Paralegal and legal assistant are individuals employed by attorneys or law firms to assist in the delivery of legal services. Unlike lawyers, paralegals and legal assistants are not allowed to accept legal cases, give legal advice, or represent clients in court. However, many of their regular duties are things also done by lawyers, including conducting client interviews, doing legal research, locating and interviewing witnesses, and drafting legal documents.

In general, paralegals are responsible for helping lawyers prepare for trials, hearings, closings, and corporate meetings. They often prepare written reports that attorneys use in determining how cases should be handled. For cases which go to trial, paralegals help prepare the legal arguments, obtain the affidavits, draft the motions, and assist the attorney during the conduct of the trial.

Paralegals And Legal Assistants picture    Paralegals And Legal Assistants image

Paralegal Schools

Although some paralegals are trained on the job, most of them pursue some type of formal educational program leading to a certificate and/or an associate or bachelor's degree. There are several such programs available today offered in a wide variety of formats and lengths by various public and private institutions including:

  • Community colleges
  • Four-year colleges and universities
  • Business colleges
  • Proprietary institutions

Certificate programs, which usually provide intensive paralegal training for individuals who already hold college degrees, vary significantly in length but often only take a few months to complete. Hundreds of paralegal training programs are currently approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and graduation from an ABA-approved program can enhance employment opportunities.

Most paralegal training programs include courses in legal research and the applications of computers to legal work. Some programs include job placement services. Many of them also offer an internship where students gain several months of practical working experience in a private law firm, a government agency, a corporate legal department, or some other institution. Experience as an intern can be an invaluable asset in the job market after graduation.

Paralegal Education Requirements and Courses

Most entrants in the field have either an associate degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor's degree in a general field of study combined with a certificate in paralegal studies. Some hold master's degrees. Degree programs typically combine paralegal training with courses in other academic subjects.

Paralegal requirements consist of classes and coursework designed to prepare you for the rigors of the legal environment. Course titles include:

  • Criminology
  • Civil litigation
  • Criminal court structure
  • Matrimonial law
  • Corporate law
  • Estate distribution
  • Record-keeping and documentation
  • Legal technology
  • Accounting procedures

Paralegal education focuses on researching legal precedent, investigating facts and preparing legal documents. As a paralegal, you'll work at the right hand of an established lawyer to ready him or her for the next court performance. After completing your paralegal education, you'll become a master researcher--mining for valuable evidence that supports a legal proceeding, formulates a defense or initiates legal action.

Paralegal Certification

Most states do not regulate the paralegal profession, although some states require paralegals to complete a certain amount of accredited coursework. Certification from a professional society, although not required by most employers, may give an aspiring legal assistant a significant advantage in the labor market.

You have several different options for certification and compliance, each with a different set of paralegal requirements. These include:

  • The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers a two-day examination leading to a designation as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP), or an Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) for experienced paralegals who want to specialize
  • The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. offers the voluntary American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) credential for professionals with at least five years of paralegal experience and meet one of three specified educational requirements
  • The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) provides the Registered Paralegal (RP) designation through their PACE program, which requires at least two years of professional experience in addition to certain NFPA educational requirements

Resources for Paralegals

 

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Paralegals and Legal Assistants jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 1410 $48,970
Birmingham 1410 $48,970
Mobile 370 $37,100
Montgomery 320 $50,470
Huntsville 280 $41,140
Foley 90 $41,690
Daphne 90 $41,690
Fairhope 90 $41,690
Tuscaloosa 70 $41,210
Jacksonville 50 $35,950
Anniston 50 $35,950
Oxford 50 $35,950
Decatur 30 $36,690
Dothan -2222 $36,990
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 570 $62,780
Fairbanks 70 $56,250
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 4450 $49,080
Phoenix 4450 $49,080
Mesa 4450 $49,080
Tucson 640 $48,890
Kingman 100 $41,100
Lake Havasu City 100 $41,100
Flagstaff 100 $44,370
Prescott 80 $36,630
Yuma 60 $46,090
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 530 $40,270
North Little Rock 530 $40,270
Little Rock 530 $40,270
Hot Springs 60 $34,410
Jonesboro 50 $39,870
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 12290 $51,500
Long Beach 12290 $51,500
Los Angeles 12290 $51,500
San Francisco 5140 $64,080
Hayward 5140 $64,080
Oakland 5140 $64,080
San Diego 3190 $64,050
Carlsbad 3190 $64,050
Ontario 1930 $56,830
Riverside 1930 $56,830
San Bernardino 1930 $56,830
Sunnyvale 1900 $77,560
Santa Clara 1900 $77,560
San Jose 1900 $77,560
Roseville 1630 $53,950
Arcade 1630 $53,950
Sacramento 1630 $53,950
Arden 1630 $53,950
Fresno 550 $49,680
Thousand Oaks 340 $62,690
Ventura 340 $62,690
Oxnard 340 $62,690
Santa Barbara 260 $46,290
Santa Maria 260 $46,290
Stockton 200 $40,820
Lodi 200 $40,820
Bakersfield 170 $52,410
Modesto 170 $54,640
Visalia 140 $39,410
Porterville 140 $39,410
Santa Rosa 130 $60,540
Chico 100 $42,790
Napa 100 $61,360
Santa Cruz 90 $56,640
Watsonville 90 $56,640
El Centro 70 $50,100
Redding 50 $57,570
Fairfield 50 $63,960
Vallejo 50 $63,960
Yuba City 30 $38,430
San Luis Obispo -2222 $41,960
Arroyo Grande -2222 $41,960
Paso Robles -2222 $41,960
Salinas -2222 $54,050
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 4110 $50,190
Denver 4110 $50,190
Lakewood 4110 $50,190
Colorado Springs 470 $46,670
Boulder 440 $54,880
Fort Collins 170 $49,450
Grand Junction 110 $43,330
Greeley 100 $38,780
Pueblo 70 $38,420
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 2250 $57,410
West Hartford 2250 $57,410
Hartford 2250 $57,410
Stamford 1280 $58,270
Norwalk 1280 $58,270
Bridgeport 1280 $58,270
New Haven 750 $45,560
Waterbury 220 $36,100
Danbury 130 $51,860
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 170 $45,280
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 10560 $46,890
Miami 10560 $46,890
Fort Lauderdale 10560 $46,890
St. Petersburg 4060 $47,710
Clearwater 4060 $47,710
Tampa 4060 $47,710
Kissimmee 3320 $48,480
Orlando 3320 $48,480
Sanford 3320 $48,480
Jacksonville 1210 $43,860
North Port 830 $43,140
Bradenton 830 $43,140
Sarasota 830 $43,140
Tallahassee 630 $44,380
Pensacola 530 $43,650
Brent 530 $43,650
Ferry Pass 530 $43,650
Fort Myers 460 $53,710
Cape Coral 460 $53,710
Winter Haven 430 $40,010
Lakeland 430 $40,010
Deltona 420 $36,640
Daytona Beach 420 $36,640
Ormond Beach 420 $36,640
Naples 350 $46,420
Immokalee 350 $46,420
Marco Island 350 $46,420
Port St. Lucie 340 $49,150
Melbourne 210 $37,470
Titusville 210 $37,470
Palm Bay 210 $37,470
Gainesville 180 $46,240
Ocala 140 $35,470
Panama City 140 $39,030
Destin 120 $44,580
Fort Walton Beach 120 $44,580
Crestview 120 $44,580
Sebastian 110 $39,380
Vero Beach 110 $39,380
Punta Gorda 70 $44,610
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 6390 $50,530
Atlanta 6390 $50,530
Sandy Springs 6390 $50,530
Savannah 300 $47,960
Macon 180 $49,160
Gainesville 110 $41,290
Valdosta 70 $39,180
Dalton 50 $35,170
Brunswick 40 $43,390
Clarke County -2222 $37,830
Athens -2222 $37,830
Rome -2222 $38,880
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 960 $42,380
Lahaina 60 $56,000
Wailuku 60 $56,000
Kahului 60 $56,000
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 490 $44,890
Idaho Falls 80 $35,900
Coeur d'Alene 80 $41,270
Pocatello 50 $37,190
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 320 $51,760
Bloomington 310 $48,530
Springfield 150 $46,290
Rockford 110 $65,830
Urbana 100 $42,830
Champaign 100 $42,830
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 1800 $49,010
Carmel 1800 $49,010
Indianapolis 1800 $49,010
Fort Wayne 330 $39,660
Elkhart 190 $35,860
Goshen 190 $35,860
West Lafayette 80 $37,800
Lafayette 80 $37,800
Terre Haute 70 $27,460
Kokomo 70 $39,260
Columbus 30 $35,980
Muncie -2222 $30,710
Bloomington -2222 $38,380
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 750 $54,420
Des Moines 750 $54,420
Cedar Rapids 250 $50,420
Cedar Falls 170 $40,480
Waterloo 170 $40,480
Iowa City 80 $47,630
Dubuque 30 $34,800
Ames 30 $42,460
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Topeka 240 $42,360
Lawrence 70 $33,770
Wichita -2222 $43,440
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 370 $48,030
Fayette 370 $48,030
Bowling Green 150 $42,140
Fort Knox 110 $35,340
Elizabethtown 110 $35,340
Owensboro -2222 $38,200
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 1920 $46,790
Metairie 1920 $46,790
Baton Rouge 860 $45,730
Lafayette 550 $35,430
Shreveport 230 $45,420
Bossier City 230 $45,420
Lake Charles 140 $37,530
Monroe 80 $36,380
Alexandria 70 $37,390
Hammond 50 $37,950
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 570 $48,020
South Portland 570 $48,020
Bangor 150 $38,550
Auburn 110 $43,950
Lewiston 110 $43,950
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baltimore 3860 $53,870
Towson 3860 $53,870
Columbia 3860 $53,870
Lexington Park 40 $40,830
California 40 $40,830
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 170 $51,690
New Bedford -2222 $36,770
Pittsfield -2222 $43,030
Gardner -2222 $59,140
Leominster -2222 $59,140
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 3860 $49,700
Warren 3860 $49,700
Detroit 3860 $49,700
Grand Rapids 530 $48,440
Wyoming 530 $48,440
Lansing 230 $53,140
East Lansing 230 $53,140
Ann Arbor 170 $53,130
Flint 140 $55,770
Portage 130 $44,530
Kalamazoo 130 $44,530
Saginaw 60 $41,070
Benton Harbor -2222 $47,720
Niles -2222 $47,720
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 160 $33,630
Rochester 100 $46,260
Mankato 50 $44,950
North Mankato 50 $44,950
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 1000 $55,160
Pascagoula 200 $44,060
Biloxi 200 $44,060
Gulfport 200 $44,060
Hattiesburg -2222 $49,960
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 320 $43,700
Columbia 120 $38,630
Jefferson City 90 $35,860
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Missoula 190 $41,620
Billings 190 $55,250
Great Falls -2222 $53,920
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 280 $42,610
Grand Island 30 $32,810
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 1620 $54,680
Henderson 1620 $54,680
Las Vegas 1620 $54,680
Reno 190 $51,650
Carson City 70 $57,570
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 370 $49,210
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 530 $63,580
Hammonton 290 $54,440
Atlantic City 290 $54,440
Bridgeton 110 $46,850
Vineland 110 $46,850
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 1130 $41,300
Santa Fe 200 $44,010
Las Cruces 100 $41,310
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Troy 1080 $50,740
Albany 1080 $50,740
Schenectady 1080 $50,740
Niagara Falls 1070 $47,890
Cheektowaga 1070 $47,890
Buffalo 1070 $47,890
Rochester 970 $47,480
Syracuse 530 $49,170
Binghamton 170 $40,730
Ithaca 120 $39,360
Utica 90 $55,840
Rome 90 $55,840
Watertown 60 $39,090
Fort Drum 60 $39,090
Glens Falls 50 $51,060
Elmira -2222 $43,140
Kingston -2222 $44,020
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 1420 $47,200
Winston 830 $38,730
Salem 830 $38,730
High Point 580 $40,000
Greensboro 580 $40,000
Asheville 560 $38,230
Chapel Hill 380 $47,850
Durham 380 $47,850
Wilmington 360 $46,630
Fayetteville 250 $41,630
New Bern 200 $39,320
Greenville 150 $39,780
Jacksonville 110 $35,440
Goldsboro 80 $34,770
Morganton 80 $39,610
Hickory 80 $39,610
Lenoir 80 $39,610
Rocky Mount 70 $34,430
Burlington 50 $38,880
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 110 $47,570
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 2530 $46,940
Cleveland 2530 $46,940
Columbus 1770 $48,680
Akron 580 $46,120
Dayton 510 $39,330
Toledo 370 $46,310
Mansfield 100 $31,040
Springfield 60 $34,340
Canton 60 $43,660
Massillon 60 $43,660
Lima 40 $32,060
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 1350 $45,730
Tulsa 780 $40,790
Lawton 70 $36,300
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 360 $42,600
Eugene 140 $43,580
Bend 80 $46,690
Redmond 80 $46,690
Medford 80 $49,100
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 1830 $58,290
Harrisburg 680 $46,440
Carlisle 680 $46,440
Scranton 430 $34,400
Wilkes 430 $34,400
Barre 430 $34,400
Hazleton 430 $34,400
Lancaster 310 $40,520
Reading 270 $47,880
York 180 $37,420
Hanover 180 $37,420
Altoona 120 $32,590
Williamsport 90 $35,200
Erie 90 $45,740
Waynesboro 70 $48,250
Chambersburg 70 $48,250
State College 60 $40,470
East Stroudsburg -2222 $35,200
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 560 $31,920
Carolina 560 $31,920
San Juan 560 $31,920
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 1820 $42,450
North Charleston 990 $43,400
Charleston 990 $43,400
Mauldin 720 $40,860
Anderson 720 $40,860
Greenville 720 $40,860
Beaufort 300 $46,160
Bluffton 300 $46,160
Hilton Head Island 300 $46,160
Spartanburg 250 $41,620
Florence 200 $33,110
Sumter 50 $36,960
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 110 $48,110
Rapid City -2222 $37,370
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 1580 $50,850
Murfreesboro 1580 $50,850
Davidson 1580 $50,850
Nashville 1580 $50,850
Knoxville 610 $45,210
Johnson City 100 $37,020
Jackson 90 $37,910
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 6100 $59,610
Fort Worth 6100 $59,610
Arlington 6100 $59,610
The Woodlands 5810 $57,870
Sugar Land 5810 $57,870
Houston 5810 $57,870
Round Rock 3010 $46,780
Austin 3010 $46,780
New Braunfels 2230 $45,820
San Antonio 2230 $45,820
Edinburg 670 $37,520
Mission 670 $37,520
McAllen 670 $37,520
Corpus Christi 440 $38,790
El Paso 430 $42,050
Tyler 420 $41,720
Lubbock 320 $35,240
Killeen 250 $39,860
Temple 250 $39,860
Beaumont 230 $42,440
Port Arthur 230 $42,440
Waco 160 $42,440
Midland 160 $53,060
Brownsville 120 $36,730
Harlingen 120 $36,730
Odessa 110 $44,330
Laredo 90 $39,450
Sherman 80 $36,870
Denison 80 $36,870
San Angelo 40 $-1,111
Bryan -2222 $29,940
College Station -2222 $29,940
Amarillo -2222 $38,460
Wichita Falls -2222 $38,550
Longview -2222 $39,390
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 1920 $46,580
Orem 310 $42,160
Provo 310 $42,160
Ogden 190 $35,670
Clearfield 190 $35,670
St. George 70 $35,720
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 330 $47,980
Burlington 330 $47,980
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 2130 $50,560
Roanoke 380 $34,490
Charlottesville 270 $50,190
Lynchburg 170 $38,890
Radford 120 $40,790
Blacksburg 120 $40,790
Christiansburg 120 $40,790
Harrisonburg -2222 $37,890
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tacoma 3700 $61,910
Seattle 3700 $61,910
Bellevue 3700 $61,910
Spokane 310 $45,020
Spokane Valley 310 $45,020
Tumwater 160 $54,970
Olympia 160 $54,970
Yakima 140 $43,340
Bellingham 140 $48,710
Bremerton 130 $55,940
Silverdale 130 $55,940
Mount Vernon 60 $46,620
Anacortes 60 $46,620
Kennewick 50 $35,910
Richland 50 $35,910
Longview 30 $41,810
Wenatchee -2222 $56,380
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 620 $45,840
Morgantown 230 $37,980
Beckley 120 $40,190
Vienna 80 $42,040
Parkersburg 80 $42,040
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 2280 $50,700
Waukesha 2280 $50,700
Milwaukee 2280 $50,700
Madison 800 $49,060
Eau Claire 180 $32,870
Green Bay 140 $44,760
Neenah 120 $42,660
Oshkosh 120 $42,660
Wausau 110 $39,320
Appleton 110 $40,290
Beloit 60 $38,000
Janesville 60 $38,000
Sheboygan 60 $38,460
Racine 50 $42,830
Fond du Lac -2222 $29,930
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 140 $50,240
Casper 80 $49,680

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Paralegals and Legal Assistants

To find out more about building a career as Paralegals And Legal Assistants, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 189,730 75% $44,580
Government 34,310 13% $49,370
Business Management 5,820 2% $55,910
Office Services And Staffing 5,520 2% $48,300
Insurance 4,840 1% $51,810
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
 
Results:  4
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  • Paralegal Studies
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Programs
  • Associate of Arts: Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science: Paralegal Studies
  • Master of Business Administration in American Legal Studies
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
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  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
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  • Jurisprudence with concentration in Legal Studies (Bachelor of Science) - Online
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  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
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Programs
  • Online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Paralegals and Legal Assistants.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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