How Much Does a Paralegal and Legal Assistant Make?

By | February 17, 2015
Paralegals and Legal Assistants salaries

Paralegals and Legal Assistants are likely to have more jobs and make more money for many years to come. Image source: Legalassistantjobdescription.net

How Much Does a Paralegal and Legal Assistant Make?

“How much does a paralegal and legal assistant make?” is a good question to ask when researching the occupation before making up your mind to become one or not.

According to the latest report (May 2013) on the paralegal and legal assistant occupation, employment and wages by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants make on the average $24.60 per hour, and $51,170 annually across the nation.

These are only mean national estimates and do not mean that’s how much they earn with all employers. Paralegal and legal assistants’ salaries are bound to differ from industries to industries and from states to states.

Qualifications and experience also play a role on how much money they make.

Naturally, more qualified paralegals and legal assistants with associate or bachelor’s degree and who have developed expertise in operating computers and performing data management functions, coupled with some experience on the job will earn more salary than those with lesser qualification and experience.

Will Paralegals and Legal Assistants Make More Money in Years to Come?

To predict salary outlook for an occupation, an important trend to look out for is the demand for the occupation – increasing demand will likely push up salaries and wages.

It is expected that demand for paralegals and legal assistants will be on the increase for some years to come for the following reasons:

Quest to Increase Efficiency in Law Firms: the prevailing trend in the legal profession, which will likely go on for many years to come shows law firms working on reducing their cost of operation and improving efficiency in their service delivery.

To achieve this, they would need to employ more paralegals and legal assistants who, in addition to performing the primary duties and functions of a paralegal or duties of a legal assistant, can also successful handle some legal secretary’s duties as well as some lawyer’s duties.

More Firms Setting Up Legal Departments: it is common now to see several large companies in different industries, including finance and insurance, healthcare, and consulting, setting up or beefing up their legal departments as they find it less costly this way than contracting outside law firms.

This trend is likely to continue and more paralegals and legal assistants will be needed, which might also lead to increase in salaries.

Top Five Industries Where Paralegals and Legal Assistants Make More Money

Paralegals and legal assistants’ wages and salaries differ from one industry to another.

The industry with the highest pay for these professionals is software publishing where they make on the average $37.09 per hour and $77,140 in a year.

This is followed by Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers which pay $36.04 hourly and $74,970 annually.

The third is the Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing industry where paralegals and legal assistants earn estimated mean salary of $35.88 an hour and $74,630 yearly.

Grantmaking and Giving Services industry comes next with $35.14 per hour and $73,090 per year salary.

The fifth highest paying industry is Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers with $34.99 and $72,780 per hour and yearly respectively.

Top Five States Where Paralegals and Legal Assistants Earn More Money

District of Columbia is where paralegals and legal assistants are expected to make more money than anywhere nationwide.

The mean hourly and annually wage are $35.12 and $73,050 respectively.

California is next with paralegals and legal assistants earning $28.88 per hour and $60,060 yearly salary on the average.

Alaska is the third with estimated earnings of $28.85 and $60,020 per hour and per year.

New Jersey comes next where the professionals make $28.29 an hour and $58,830 in a year.

In Oregon, which is the fifth highest paying state, paralegals and legal assistants make on the average $27.29 hourly and $56,760 annually.

The table below shows how much on the average paralegals and legal assistants make hourly and yearly in all U.S. States and territories.

State

Pay per Hour

Yearly Pay


Alabama


$21.88


$45,510


Alaska


$28.85


$60,020

Arizona

$22.92

$47,680


Arkansas


$19.07


$39,660


California


$28.88


$60,060


Colorado


$25.58


$53,200


Connecticut


$25.59


$53,230


Delaware


$25.89


$53,840

District of
Columbia

$35.12

$73,050


Florida


$22.99


$47,820


Georgia


$25.91


$53,880


Hawaii


$25.67


$53,400


Idaho


$19.85


$41,280


Illinois


$23.58


$49,050


Indiana


$20.08


$41,770


Iowa


$20.75


$43,150


Kansas


$20.00


$41,600


Kentucky


$20.65


$42,960


Louisiana


$20.29


$42,210


Maine


$21.52

$44,760


Maryland

$24.90


$51,790


Massachusetts


$25.75


$53,570


Michigan


$22.57


$46,950


Minnesota


$24.54


$51,040


Mississippi


$20.47


$42,580


Missouri


$23.42


$48,710


Montana


$20.21


$42,030


Nebraska


$20.14


$41,900


Nevada


$24.10


$50,120


New Hampshire


$22.27


$46,330


New Jersey


$28.29


$58,830


New Mexico


$21.05


$43,780


New York


$26.44


$54,990


North Carolina


$20.42


$42,480


North Dakota


$20.73


$43,120


Ohio

$21.46


$44,650


Oklahoma


$20.61


$42,860


Oregon


$27.29


$56,760


Pennsylvania


$26.21


$54,530

Puerto Rico

$17.89

$37,210


Rhode Island


$22.99


$47,830


South Carolina


$19.72


$41,010


South Dakota


$20.54


$42,720


Tennessee


$21.51


$44,730


Texas


$25.32


$52,670


Utah


$21.20


$44,100


Vermont


$22.09


$45,950


Virginia


$24.45


$50,870


Washington


$25.82


$53,700


West Virginia


$19.96


$41,510


Wisconsin


$21.52


$44,750


Wyoming


$20.68


$43,010

Data for this article was sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2013 occupational employment and wages report.

*Note: All wages and salaries are mean estimates.