The Bureau of Labor Statistics is out with their 2020 Occupational Outlook for Paralegals and Legal Assistants.
Bottom line – it’s not a bad time to be in, or to be getting into, a paralegal or legal assistant position*.
Consider these findings:
- Median annual pay is $51,750, compared with $39,800 for all occupations in the US.
- 80% of paralegals and legal assistants earn between $32-82,000.
- The federal government, finance, and insurance sectors pay the most, with a median income above $84,000 per year.
- Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 10% over the next 10 years, much faster than the 4% for all occupations in the US economy.
States with the most paralegals are CA, FL, NY, TX, and IL. The highest pay for paralegals and legal assistants is in DC, CO, CA, MA, and WA.
If you’d like to “just get away,” consider these top-paying nonmetropolitan areas for paralegals and legal assistants:
- Northwest Colorado
- Central New Hampshire
- North Coast of California
Or, the nonmetropolitan places where there are the most jobs:
- North Carolina Piedmont area
- Central Kentucky
- Southwest Montana
- Southeast coastal North Carolina
The life of the paralegal is not all rosy, of course; here are a few cautions:
- Stress – The American Bar Association has recently discussed stress as a significant issue for paralegals. Unfortunately, stress among staff is not as well addressed as attorney stress. Good tools, such as a cloud-based matter management system, can significantly reduce stress among the staff, especially those expected to bill by the hour, such as paralegals.
- Limited ceiling – you very likely never will be the boss of a law firm if you do not have a law degree.
- Respect – routine tasks like repetitive data entry, invoice preparation, entering client and billing information, filing, and document management often fall upon paralegals. A cloud-based document management system can virtually eliminate these repetitive tasks and increase the time you have for higher profile matters.
If you are considering an exit strategy, the US Department of Labor has identified related positions that do not require a JD degree that offer greater compensation, including claims adjusting, mediating and conciliation services.
In the meantime, you can build both your expertise and job satisfaction by becoming proficient in a cutting edge technology, such as Smokeball’s cloud-based law firm management software.
At Smokeball we know that every link in the client service chain is an important one, and the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Leveraging the talents of and contributions from engaged and qualified paralegals and legal assistants seems a “no brainer,” why not get started today?
* The BLS defines paralegals and legal assistants as those who assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents, or researching legal precedent. They conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action. Importantly, the occupation excludes “Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants.”