If you've ever wondered, "How much do paralegals make?" you've come to the right place. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for paralegals is $46,990. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Paralegal Career Path
Paralegals are usually given more responsibility and authority as they gain work experience. Experienced paralegals may also have a high degree of autonomy, particularly in the areas of real estate and estate planning, where a great deal of client work can be done with only minimal supervision of an attorney.
Experienced paralegals working in large law firms, corporate legal departments or government agencies may supervise and delegate assignments to other paralegals and clerical staff. Some law firms and legal departments employ one or more paralegal managers, typically very experienced paralegals, to oversee the assignments, workflow and personnel issues for all of the organization's paralegals.
Where Paralegals Work
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, more than 70 percent of all paralegals work for private law firms. In general, law firms pay the highest average paralegal salary. Law offices are typically well appointed, and most paralegals enjoy private offices and above-average perks and benefits, including performance bonuses. Paralegals are also employed by corporate legal departments and various government offices.
There are many different types of paralegal specialties:
- Civil litigation
- Personal injury
- Corporate law
- Criminal law
- Employee benefits
- Intellectual property
- Employment law
- Family law
- Estate planning
- Real estate
As the law has become more complex, paralegals have become more specialized. Within specialties, functions often are broken down further so that paralegals may only deal with one specific area. For example, paralegals specializing in corporate law may concentrate exclusively on tax matters.