According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), legal assistants/paralegals earn an average salary of $55,020 per year ($26.45 per hour). Average pay will vary based on the state in which you are employed, the education you’ve earned and level of experience in the field. Starting pay in an entry-level position will tend to be lower until you’ve gained a few years of experience and proven yourself as an indispensable member of a law firm.
Looking ahead: job outlook
The BLS projects the demand for paralegal and legal assistant jobs to rise 10% from 2019-2029, meaning now is a good time to get your foot in the door.
The BLS attributes the projected increase to an effort by law firms to increase efficiency and keep costs as low as possible. Paralegals and legal assistants are expected to handle more tasks previously assigned to a legal secretary or entry-level attorney.
Average paralegal/legal assistant salary by state
|State||Per hour||Per year|
|District of Columbia||$39.43||$82,010|
What does a paralegal do?
Paralegals, also referred to as legal assistants, help lawyers with many different administrative duties: preparation for trials, hearings, meetings and closings, drafting legal documents such as contracts, separation agreements or mortgages, the gathering of legal articles or judicial decisions relating to a case, and much more. Legal assistants may work in many different types of law firms, including criminal law, real estate, divorce, and personal injury.
Learn more about what a paralegal does, including detail on where paralegals typically work and the most common types of paralegal jobs.
Note: paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.
How do I become a paralegal?
In order to become a paralegal and thrive in your new career, take these steps:
- Choose what degree is right for you
- Enroll in a degree program
- Earn professional experience
- Network whenever possible
- Choose a specialty (private sector, public sector, freelance)
Herzing University exists to help you take the leap and become possible. If you’re ready to go back to school and become a paralegal, consider our online paralegal program or ABA approved paralegal programs in New Orleans and Atlanta*. Graduates are eligible to take the Certified Paralegal examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and earn their certification as a paralegal.
* Only the Herzing University paralegal programs at New Orleans and Atlanta are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). The Herzing Legal Studies program offered online is not approved by the ABA.