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A Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Career as a Litigation Paralegal

Published on: Feb 27, 2024

Litigation paralegals are an essential part of any trial team. They are responsible for managing the trial process, including the investigations, pleadings, and discovery. The litigation paralegal works closely with other legal professionals and attorneys and assists them in preparing for depositions, witness preparation, and research. This role may also be responsible for preparing and managing all exhibits during the legal proceedings and acting as the attorney’s assistant from the start of the trial through the appeals process.

If you are interested in a career as a litigation paralegal, this comprehensive guide will help you better understand the position and how to launch your paralegal career.

Litigation Paralegal Role and Responsibilities

Litigation paralegals are often known as the backbone of the trial team. Although their primary responsibilities frequently involve coordinating all the necessary details before, during, and after the trial, they are also responsible for providing support during every phase of the litigation case, such as conducting interviews, legal research, and document filing.  However, while these paralegals  are not authorized to provide legal advice, they do frequently assist with the following tasks:

  • Researching statutes, legal articles, constitutions, legal codes, legal articles, and judicial decisions to prepare legal documents, including pleadings, briefs, and appeals for the attorney to use

  • Interpreting data, analyzing reports, reviewing records, and reviewing responses sent over by the other side

  • Preparing discovery responses for the lawyer to review

  • Interpreting information and data, analyzing and reviewing reports, and examining records produced by the opposing side

  • Handling communications between parties involved in the litigation

  • Organizing case files, documents, and correspondence

  • Updating internal legal databases

  • Preparing witnesses and other material for trial

  • Preparing for and attending depositions

  • Preparing and tracking exhibits and court documents 

It is also important to understand that within the legal field, different roles may have similar responsibilities. As a result, many people confuse these positions with one another. For instance, although a litigation paralegal may sometimes be referred to as a legal assistant, these positions are very different. Broadly speaking, a legal assistant is responsible for handling administrative tasks, preparing routine cases and hearings, and conducting factual investigations that are limited in scope. In comparison, a litigation paralegal is responsible for more legal duties and assists attorneys during legal proceedings.
Check out our article detailing the differences between a legal assistant and a paralegal.

Educational and Certification Requirements

There are different ways that individuals can secure the skills they need to become a litigation paralegal. However, the most common degrees and certifications that individuals in this position obtain include the following:

  • Associate or bachelor’s degree in legal studies or a related field

  • A paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal education program

  • Legal experience through internships or volunteer opportunities 

Although obtaining a paralegal certification from a recognized paralegal association is not required for every litigation paralegal position, having this certification is a great way to set you apart from the competition and paint you as a more driven, qualified, and experienced candidate. Certification can also give you access to more job opportunities than would otherwise be available. For more information about paralegal certifications, check out the following professional organizations:The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or theNational Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS). In addition, these associations also offer courses to help individuals in the litigation paralegal position continue to grow and learn, including discovery, criminal litigation, personal injury, civil litigation, civil procedure, trial management, appellate law, and litigation and alternate dispute relation courses.

Skills and Qualities for Success

To be successful as a litigation paralegal, there are certain skills and qualities that are essential for the role. These skills generally include the following:

  • Keen research and writing skills

  • Critical thinking skills

  • Organizational skills

  • Solid communication skills

  • Technological and computer skills

  • Knowledge of certain software such as Open Office, Google Docs, and Microsoft Office

  • Attention to detail

  • Ability to manage highly stressful situations

  • Empathy towards others

  • Patience 

Integrity and interpersonal skills are also crucial qualities for a litigation paralegal. This position often deals with sensitive and confidential information about clients as they prepare for trial. Therefore, it is vital for a litigation paralegal to always act with integrity and respect when handling such documents. Additionally, strong interpersonal skills are necessary due to the amount of time spent communicating with clients, attorneys, opposing counsel, and others involved in the litigation. These conversations may occur in person, on video conferences, over the phone, or through email. That is why a litigation paralegal should handle these conversations gracefully, provide clear instructions, and diffuse tense situations as needed.

Litigation Paralegal Career Path and Progression

If you are interested in becoming a litigation paralegal, before you start your job search, it is important first to determine how much education is recommended for a given position. As mentioned previously, depending on the role, individuals may be asked to earn an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, paralegal certificate, or, in some instances, at least a high school degree with significant experience. The most common majors for those who want to become a litigation paralegal are political science or legal studies. 

Once their education is complete, many individuals may take on entry-level legal roles, such as legal assistant, entry-level paralegal, or legal support staff, to gain experience in the field. They may also secure litigation paralegal internships to help them obtain the knowledge and familiarity required to perform these positions. However, as these professionals progress in their legal careers, they may specialize in a particular area. For instance, litigation paralegals can work either on the defense or plaintiff side of the case or focus exclusively on insurance or commercial law. They may also look for job opportunities in government agencies, consumer organizations, or a public defender's office. Depending on their aspirations, they could further their education by pursuing additional certifications or attending law school to become an attorney.

Litigation Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

According to Zippia, The Career Expert, the job outlook for litigation paralegals is promising. Take, for instance, the following recent statistics for the position:

  • The litigation paralegal job growth rate is projected to be around 14% from 2018 to 2028.

  • There are about 49,900 new litigation paralegals projected over the next ten years.

  • The salaries of litigation parties have increased by 7% in the last five years.

  • Over 120,870 litigation paralegals are currently employed in the United States. 

In addition, the average litigation paralegal salary in the United States is approximately $58,484. However, this amount will usually depend on numerous factors, including the type of firm the litigation paralegal is employed at, their job duties, their experience, and the state they are employed in. For example, the top five most common states for litigation paralegals regarding employment opportunities include the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Florida, Massachusetts, and Washington. 

On the other hand, the top highest-paid cities for litigation paralegals include the following:

  • San Fransciso, CA: $79,626

  • Washington D.C.: $71,135

  • Beverly Hills, CA:  $68,792

  • Los Angeles, CA: $68,736

  • Irvine, CA: $67,935

How to Secure a Role as a Litigation Paralegal

Creating a strong paralegal resume will be critical when you are ready to start job hunting for a litigation paralegal position. While these resumes should highlight your achievements, work experience, and skills, they should also be tailored to the specific position and include keywords from the job description. For instance, you may want to mention your main strengths and how they align with the requirements of the job. You should also indicate whether you have a Certified Paralegal certification and how you have supported attorneys and other legal professionals in your previous legal roles. 

Preparing for the Interview Process 

When scheduling interviews for a potential litigation paralegal position, it is important to remember that the best candidates are known for their strong attention to detail, multitasking skills, and willingness to learn. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare for these interviews. Although this may not be the most exciting part, it is one of the most critical steps. The preparation process involves researching the firm and the attorneys who will be interviewing you, reviewing potential interview questions, and customizing your answers to fit the needs of the law firm you are applying to. This preparation can help you appear confident during the interview process and demonstrate that you are a highly qualified professional capable of completing the job successfully. 


Individuals aspiring to find legal jobs as litigation paralegals can also network to achieve their goals. There are several networking opportunities available today, both online and in person. These include professional association committees such as the American Alliance of Paralegals, the American Association for Paralegal Education AAFPE, and the ABA Standing Committee on Paralegals, as well as annual conventions and meetup groups.

While networking can be easy for some paralegals who are outgoing and extroverted, it may be difficult for others who are more introverted. Yet, despite your personality, networking is crucial for career growth and success as a litigation paralegal. Step out of your comfort zone and connect with other professionals to establish a network of knowledgeable, skilled individuals who can assist you when needed.

The Bottom Line

Litigation paralegals are an essential part of any legal team. They have an in-depth understanding of the trial preparation process, from the initial requests for documents and other trial "discovery" to more complex tasks such as conducting research and writing legal briefs. They play a crucial role in all phases of the litigation process, providing valuable support to attorneys and ensuring that cases are handled efficiently and effectively.

If you are considering a job as a litigation paralegal or want to learn more about the position, consider pursuing further education and training to help you secure the legal job of your dreams.

About the Authors

Written by:

Kasia Nelson, Esq.

Kasia Nelson is a licensed attorney and skilled legal content writer with years of experience. With a background in corporate immigration law, she is well-versed in the intricacies of producing legally accurate and well-researched work. 


  • Michigan State University, B.S.

  • Western Michigan University – Cooley Law School, J.D.

Law Licensures

  • Michigan

Kasia Nelson

Kasia Nelson, Esq.


Education: Western Michigan University – Cooley Law School, J.D.

Knowledge: Corporate Immigration Law

Reviewed by:

Ryan P. Duffy, Esq.

Ryan P. Duffy is an attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey, North Carolina, and South Carolina. His practice focuses primarily on Estate Planning, Personal Injury, and Business law. 

Law Licensures

  • New Jersey

  • Pennsylvania (inactive)

  • South Carolina

  • North Carolina

Ryan Duffy

Ryan P. Duffy, Esq.

Editorial Lead

Education: Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, J.D.

Knowledge: Estate Planning