ParalegalJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Paralegals assist attorneys or businesses with crucial legal work of all kinds. They are vital team members at most law firms and in the legal departments of many companies. 

Though they are not full-fledged lawyers, Paralegals are a valuable (often indispensable) part of most legal teams. They perform necessary work like researching, drafting legal documents and motions, assembling and managing essential files, and assisting in trial preparations. 

Paralegals can work in many types of organizations, but the majority work for law firms, corporate legal departments, or government agencies. 

Sample job description

Paralegals work for law firms where they support attorneys in collecting, organizing, and preparing documents and files for court cases. They also prepare wills, contracts, briefs, appeals, and other documents for clients. Successful paralegals have strong research skills and excellent communication abilities. Paralegals ensure that our organization remains the best in the legal world. If your experience includes fact-checking information and preparing and organizing various legal documents, you might be the ideal candidate for this role. Please apply for this position at [Your Company Name] if you are an experienced paralegal ready to grow with a company.  

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Draft legal documents, motions, and pleadings
  • Assist in trial preparations
  • Organize and manage files
  • File documents with courts
  • Help in the discovery phase

Education and experience

This position requires an associate degree in law or a related field; a bachelor’s degree is preferred but not necessary.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Knowledge of the law and law firm processes
  • Highly organized
  • Smoothly manage multiple tasks and projects concurrently
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • Excellent secretarial and organizational skills
  • Ability to juggle multiple activities and work under pressure
  • 7 years of paralegal experience, preferably at a law firm

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a paralegal is $67,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$66,650$90,150
Los Angeles, California$75,150$101,700
Denver, Colorado$62,650$84,750
Washington, DC$76,300$103,250
Miami, Florida$62,350$84,350
Orlando, Florida$57,500$77,800
Tampa, Florida$58,100$78,600
Atlanta, Georgia$60,950$82,450
Chicago, Illinois$70,050$94,750
Boston, Massachusetts$75,750$102,450
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$60,350$81,650
New York City, New York$79,750$107,850
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$64,900$87,850
Dallas, Texas$63,200$85,550
Houston, Texas$62,650$84,750
Seattle, Washington$72,900$98,600
National Average$56,950$77,050

Typical work environment

Paralegals typically work in an office environment for law firms. They generally work during normal business hours but frequently work nights and sometimes weekends when deadlines demand it.  

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a paralegal are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours can be necessary, depending on the needs and hours of an individual firm. 

Available certifications

Paralegals work in law offices, and many certifications are available to help them develop new skills and expand their knowledge. Here are some of the top certifications for paralegals: 

  • Certified Paralegal (CP). The National Association of Legal Assistants administers the CP credential, which proves your basic legal knowledge, analytical skills, writing abilities, and reading comprehension as pertains to legal documents. The CP exam is divided into 5 sections that cover the legal system, civil litigation, contracts, commercial law, and more. To qualify for the exam, candidates must have achieved a high school diploma and 7 years of experience. Those with a bachelor’s degree in any field need 1 year of experience. The experience criteria may be waived for individuals who have graduated from a paralegal program. The certification must be renewed every 5 years. 
  • American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP). This certification is offered by the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI) and shows your high level of understanding in all aspects of the paralegal profession. Eligibility requirements include a combination of education and experience. Candidates must also become members of the AAPI before applying for certification. To maintain certification, you must renew your status every 3 years and complete 18 hours of continuing legal education.

Career path

Becoming a paralegal is often an early step toward becoming an attorney, and entails first obtaining an associate degree in law or a related field. Employers typically prefer that candidates have a bachelor’s degree. Beyond that, paralegal certification programs are offered in many places and can help progress this career path. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 23-2011

2020 Employment345,600
Projected Employment in 2030387,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift41,400 increase

According to the Center for Advanced Legal Studies, a growing focus is tech savviness in the paralegal world. Unsurprisingly, with the growth of e-discovery, among other aspects, law firms and other legal employers are looking for paralegals with strong technology skills. 

Sample interview questions

  • What is a paralegal in your opinion?
  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • What process do you use to summarize a deposition?
  • What are the most important skills for a paralegal?
  • What methods do you use to prepare litigation exhibits for trial?
  • What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a paralegal?
  • Can you give an example of when your legal research skills made a difference?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • What litigation support software have you used? Which do you prefer?
  • What is the best way to assist an attorney under the pressure of an impending trial?
  • What types of legal documents have you drafted?
  • Can you give an example of when you had to deal with confidential or sensitive information?
  • How do you stay current with legal developments?
  • What strategy do you use when making complex legal decisions?
  • How would you prioritize your work when reporting to multiple attorneys?
  • How would you handle a difficult client? 
  • Which areas of law interest you the most?
  • How well do you work under the pressure of tight deadlines?
  • What does the average day of a paralegal look like?
  • How do you ensure that your work is accurate?

Paralegal Jobs in Ashburn

    Loading RSS Feed

Need help hiring a Paralegal?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. Your next career move or star employee is just around the corner. Review our career content and advice, browse our latest job openings, or email us your resume. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Browse A-Z Job Descriptions