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Paralegal Job Outlook 2024: Securing Opportunities in an Evolving Field

Published on: Feb 1, 2024

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor reports that the demand for paralegals will remain strong in 2024. BLS estimates there will be around 38,000 job openings for paralegals every year for the next decade. However, to take full advantage of this projection, it is essential to clearly understand the job market outlook for the paralegal profession, especially how the industry is evolving with new remote positions and the presence of artificial intelligence. According to Bloomberg Law, the hope is that paralegal professionals will now be able to use generative AI for more mundane tasks, allowing paralegals to tackle more critical thinking problems and issues. 

That is why, in this guide, we will provide comprehensive insights into this outlook and explain how you can secure these opportunities.

Overview of the Paralegal Profession

According to the American Bar Association, a paralegal is a person who is qualified through training, education, or work experience to perform specifically delegated substantive legal work. These individuals work at law firms, governmental agencies, or corporations; lawyers are responsible for their work. Put more simply, a paralegal is a legal professional who provides essential support in various legal matters.  

Importance of paralegals in supporting attorneys and legal teams

Paralegals play an essential role in the legal system, performing various crucial tasks that assist attorneys and their clients. These tasks include legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. By taking on these tasks, paralegals can improve law firm efficiency, help provide improved client-centered services, and save legal professionals such as attorneys significant time.

Skills and qualifications required for a successful paralegal career

A certificate or degree in paralegal studies is ideal for those seeking a successful paralegal career. Individuals in this position may also specialize in a particular area of law, such as corporate law, litigation, intellectual property law, entertainment law, or family law. However, it is worth noting that paralegals cannot offer legal advice or represent clients in court. Instead, they support lawyers and handle legal matters efficiently and effectively.

Paralegals with successful careers also tend to have the following skills:

  • Solid organizational ability

  • Attention to detail

  • Technical proficiency

  • Strong communication skills (verbal and written)

  • Sound legal knowledge

  • The ability to multi-task

  • Teamwork and collaboration skills

Current Job Market Outlook for Paralegals

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the paralegal and legal assistant professions will grow faster than average between 2022 and 2032, expanding by 14%. Law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals. However, many for-profit companies are also likely to increase their in-house legal departments, which could increase the demand for paralegals in various settings.

Demand for paralegals in various industries and sectors

According to NALA The Paralegal Association, the paralegal profession has significantly changed and become an integral part of the legal industry. Today, paralegals are often required to take on more work, support more people, and actively participate in legal proceedings. As a result, there is a strong need for experienced paralegals across diverse legal practice areas, including corporate law, bankruptcy, intellectual property, litigation, and e-discovery. More importantly, these areas offer numerous career opportunities and potential for advancement due to their growth and complexity, making them highly desirable.

Regional variations in job opportunities for paralegals

Some states to consider when looking for areas with the most job opportunities for paralegals include the following:

  • Connecticut

  • California

  • Washington

  • Massachusetts

  • Alaska

  • New York

Salary Projections and Trends for Paralegals

As law firms try to make their legal services more efficient and cost-effective, they will likely increase their hiring of paralegals and legal assistants. The paralegal role may expand and receive additional responsibilities beyond the role's traditional scope. In addition, according to recent reports, paralegal salaries have increased by 7% over the last five years, potentially altering salary projections and trends in the coming years.

Average salary range for paralegals in the United States

According to U.S. News & World Report, in 2022, paralegals earned a median salary of $59,200. The top 25% made $75,560, while the lowest-paid 25% made $46,850. The BLS also indicates that the highest 10% earned more than $94,960. However, these figures can fluctuate depending on the circumstances of the position.

Factors influencing salary variations and potential for growth

The salary of a paralegal can vary significantly due to various factors. For instance, educational qualifications play a significant role in determining the salary of a paralegal. According to the annual survey conducted by the NALA The Paralegal Association, individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn higher average salaries. For instance, paralegals earn 5% more with a bachelor’s degree than an associate degree. 

Additionally, experience, firm size, the legal industry the paralegal is practicing in, and geographical location can also significantly impact a paralegal's earnings.

Comparison of salaries across different practice areas and locations

Paralegal opportunities are available nationwide, with most positions concentrated in metropolitan areas. However, if you hold a paralegal degree and income is a significant factor for you, it is worth considering the following top five highest-paying states for paralegals:

  • The District of Columbia $76,620

  • Alaska $66,950

  • Washington $59,590

  • New York $59,300

  • California $59,130

It is also important to note that practice areas significantly influence a paralegal's pay. The BLS indicates that the top industries for paralegals include the following:

  • Finance and Insurance: $73,050

  • Federal Government: $72,320

  • Local Government: $58,000

  • Legal Services: $57,250

  • State Government: $50,310

Educational and Professional Development Requirements

It is important to note that there are various ways to become a paralegal. While many people in this field hold an associate's degree or a certificate in paralegal studies, it is common for individuals to have a bachelor's degree in another field and then obtain a paralegal studies certificate.

Recommended educational paths for aspiring paralegals

An associate degree is often one of the most common educational paths for those aspiring to become paralegals. However, many decide to pursue additional degrees or certifications to advance their careers. Depending on the law firm, some employers may offer on-the-job training for entry-level paralegals who need more education or experience.

Paralegals can pursue additional training through a postsecondary certificate program for those with an associate or bachelor's degree who want further career-oriented coursework. These studies, including computer software training, legal writing, and comprehensive legal studies, such as applications to specific laws, can help paralegals prepare for specializations and better use specific software such as Clio or Dropbox.

Accreditation and certification options for paralegals

Many law firms also hire candidates who have obtained a paralegal certificate. To get this certificate, individuals can enroll in a program offered by a community college, vocational school, or a four-year university. Depending on the school, some locations even provide accredited certifications as part of a bachelor's or associate degree in paralegal studies.  

Those who complete a paralegal certificate program must complete coursework covering civil litigation, legal research, contracts, torts, business law, legal writing, and paralegal ethics. Generally, this program takes around two years to complete, but some schools offer accelerated options.

Continuing education and professional development opportunities

Individuals in the legal field who have obtained a paralegal degree or certification should not consider it the end of their learning journey. Law practice constantly evolves, and paralegals must keep themselves updated with the developments and changes that impact their profession. This continuing education helps to enhance their productivity and ability to cope with ongoing challenges at work while also demonstrating their commitment to the legal profession.

However, for those paralegals who want to continue to seek further professional development opportunities, they could leverage their paralegal training in other ways, such as becoming a:

  • Nurse paralegal: Those who earn a nursing degree and complete training as a paralegal can work in a setting that focuses primarily on health law.

  • Office Manager of Paralegals or Paralegal Director: If you enjoy managing and leading others, working as a paralegal manager can be an excellent opportunity to help a law firm while leading teams, hiring and training staff, and distributing responsibilities.

  • Legal recruiter: Recruiting is a great way to optimize both if you want to use your legal knowledge with human resourcing. This position often helps lawyers and other legal professionals find their dream opportunities.

  • Lawyer: Those who want to continue their legal education can become a licensed attorney. This career path often requires obtaining a bachelor’s and a law degree and completing specific licensing requirements, such as taking the state’s bar exam. 

Next Steps for Pursuing a Paralegal Career

Paralegals are highly-trained legal professionals who offer support to attorneys and others. This position plays a vital role in legal proceedings, and many people find the career a fast-paced, challenging, and rewarding experience. If you are thinking about pursuing a paralegal career, consider the following next steps:

Researching paralegal programs and educational institutions

Before enrolling in a paralegal program, it is essential to research the options available to try to find a program that works best for you. For instance, consider reviewing the directory of ABA-approved paralegal education programs for further information about possible paths. Remember, there are numerous ways to obtain the skills and education needed for a paralegal career, including obtaining a bachelor's degree, associate's degree, or certificate program. Furthermore, depending on the educational institutions, individuals may even have the opportunity to earn these degrees online. 

Networking and seeking mentorship within the legal community

Networking and seeking mentorship within the legal community can be beneficial for paralegals. These opportunities can facilitate professional development and provide further training. Individuals can network and seek mentorships through paralegal associations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), other national associations such as the National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS), seminars, and even social media, which makes it easy for them to connect with others in their field.

Gaining practical experience through internships or entry-level positions

Gaining legal experience is crucial in securing a job as a paralegal. Companies and organizations usually seek reliable candidates willing to learn and commit to the job. One of the easiest ways to get this practical experience is through an internship or entry-level position. These positions allow individuals to learn new skills, better understand legal terminology, and connect with others in the legal field.

Developing relevant skills and staying updated on industry trends

Paralegals must constantly improve their skills to remain valuable and efficient in the ever-changing legal landscape. Upskilling is not only about acquiring new information but also about improving one's capacity to aid in legal decisions, grasp the subtleties of the law, and support attorneys in a more streamlined manner. That is why continuing education, mentoring opportunities, or seeking further training is a great way to remain up-to-date on relevant skills and legal industry trends.

The Bottom Line

Paralegals continue to be in high demand, and the job outlook for this profession looks very promising. New paralegal jobs are created each year, giving individuals planning to pursue a career as a paralegal an excellent opportunity to secure the desired position.

If you want to become a paralegal, just know there are plenty of ways to achieve your goals and build a successful legal career.

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