Paralegal & Legal Assistant Salary Range

Like their job descriptions, the salaries of paralegals and legal assistants vary, depending upon education level, training, on-the-job experience, who they work for, and their geographic location.

As a general rule, paralegals who work in large firms or corporations or those who work in large metropolitan areas earn more than those who work for sole-practitioners or small firms or in small communities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegal and legal assistant jobs pay between $36,080 and $59,310 in 2008. In addition to their salary, many paralegals also earn bonuses or overtime pay based upon the long hours that they may work while preparing for trial, mediation, or meetings. Most paralegals also receive fringe benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, a savings plan, health, dental, vision, and life insurance, personal time off, and reimbursement for continuing legal education.

Positives of the career

  • Challenging job
  • Better than average job prospects, according to the BLS
  • Lots of options regarding practice areas
  • Pleasant working conditions
  • Availability of fringe benefits with the job
  • Professional work atmosphere
  • Opportunity to utilize a passion for research and writing
  • Trial experience
  • Chance to learn and use the latest legal technology
  • Overtime, although this can also be a negative!

Challenges of the career

  • Can be stressful at times
  • Demanding bosses (attorneys aren’t the easiest people to work for!)
  • Overtime, especially with trial preparation
  • High level of accuracy necessary and expected
  • Job can be clerical in nature, depending upon demands of supervising attorney
  • Lots of deadlines
  • Mountains of paper!
  • Lots of desk and computer time
  • Attorneys who do not know how to best utilize the talents of paralegals (think “glorified secretaries”)


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