Salaries - How Much Do Paralegals Make?

Competition is fierce among law firms and corporate employers looking to attract and retain the most talented legal support staff. And it’s not just lawyers that are in high demand. Paralegals with specialized talent and at least a handful of years in the profession are on their radar.

According to the Robert Half 2021 Salary Guide, while paralegal salaries are not expected to change significantly, in-demand roles may see a modest increase in the year ahead.

The role of paralegals also continues to expand in areas like real estate and litigation, where seasoned paralegals that perform legal services for less than what it costs to hire an attorney are a valuable commodity. Many companies are searching for paralegals with expertise in areas like product development, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures.

With such high demand, many young professionals are seeking paralegal careers. But how much do paralegals make? Do paralegals make good money?  And what is the average paralegal salary?

Female Paralegal in Office

Several factors determine paralegal salaries, including years of experience, size of the firm, and where the firm is located. And while the average paralegal salary is always changing, the information below provides a general overview.

The role of paralegals also continues to expand in areas like real estate and litigation, where seasoned paralegals that perform legal services for less than what it costs to hire an attorney are a valuable commodity. Business has largely be responsible for driving the demand—and pushing up the pay—for paralegals with expertise in areas like product development, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures.

Several factors determine paralegal salaries, including years of experience, size of the firm, and where the firm is located. And while the average paralegal salary is always changing, the information below provides a general overview.


What Is the Average Salary for a Paralegal?

Paralegal Salaries by State

How Much Do Corporate Paralegals Make?

Are Paralegals Paid Hourly or on a Salary?

Other Factors Affecting Paralegal Salaries


What Is the Average Salary for a Paralegal?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a paralegal as of May 2020 is $52,920 per year or $25.44 per hour with the lowest 10% earning an average of $32,900, and the highest 10% earning more than $85,160.

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The job outlook for paralegals shows a growth rate of 10%, which is much faster than the national average for other careers.

Senior-Level Paralegal Salary (7+ Years of Experience)

Not surprisingly, senior-level and supervising paralegals in large law firms with 75 or more attorneys earn the highest salaries among all paralegal groups.

According to the Robert Half 2021 Salary Guide, the average senior-level paralegal salary ranges between $62,000 and $105,000. However, previous salary guides note salary varies by law-firm size:

  • Average paralegal salary for paralegals at large law firms (75+ attorneys): $67,500-$83,250 (2016) $72,250-$101,500 (2017)
  • Average paralegal salary for paralegals at midsize law firms (35-75 attorneys): $67,500-$83,250 (2016) $70,500-$86,750 (2017)
  • Average paralegal salary for paralegals with small law firms (up to 10 attorneys): $51,500-$68,250 (2016) $53,000-$71,500 (2017)

Mid-Level Paralegal Salary (4-6 Years of Experience)

According to the Robert Half 2021 Salary Guide, the average senior-level paralegal salary ranges between $54,500 and $78,750.

As mentioned, the winners of the largest salary increase between 2016 and 2017 were mid-level paralegals at small/midsize law firms. These legal professionals earned between $54,500-$65,000 in 2016. By 2017, their salary range jumped to $55,750-$70,000—a 5.2 percent increase.

  • Paralegal salary for paralegals at large law firms (75+ attorneys): $61,750-$74,500 (2016) $63,000-$78,750 (2017)
  • Paralegal salary for paralegals with midsize law firms (35-75 attorneys): $58,500-$73,750 (2016) $61,750-$76,500 (2017)
  • Paralegal salary for paralegals with small law firms (up to 10 attorneys): $44,750-$60,250 (2016) $46,75.0-$63,250 (2017)

Entry-Level Paralegal Salary (2-3 Years of Experience)

What is the average starting salary for a paralegal? As of 2021, the average starting salary for a paralegal is $41,500 to $67,500. It’s no surprise that entry-level paralegals in Robert Half’s compensation survey saw the smallest salary increases during this time, as paralegals with more experience are always in demand.

However, that’s not to say entry-level paralegals didn’t enjoy a bump in salary between 2016 and 2017:

  • Average salary for paralegals with large law firms (75+ attorneys): $44,250-$59,500 (2016) $46,250-$61,000 (2017)
  • Average salary for paralegals with midsize law firms (35-75 attorneys): $43,750-$57,500 (2016) $44,500-$59,250 (2017)
  • Average salary for paralegals with small/midsize law firms (10-35 attorneys): $40,250-$52,250 (2016) $41,750-$54,000 (2017)


How Much Do Corporate Paralegals Make?

Corporate paralegals couldn’t compete with law firm paralegals during the 2016-17 period in terms of increases, with these legal professionals experiencing a salary bump of between 2 and 3.5 percent.

However, there is a long-held precedent for paralegals working for corporations to be the best paid in the profession, and this went unchallenged. In 2017, corporate paralegals out-earned other types of paralegals in every category:

Senior-Level Corporate Paralegal Salary (7+ Years of Experience)

  • Large company (More than $250 million in revenue): $74,500-$98,000 (2016) $76,250-$102,500 (2017)
  • Midsize company ($25 million-$250 million in revenue): $67,250-$88,250 (2016) $68,000-$93,750 (2017)
  • Small company (Up to $25 million in revenue): $62,750-$77,500 (2016) $65,250-$79,500 (2017)

Mid-Level Corporate Paralegal Salary (4-6 Years of Experience)

  • Large company (More than $250 million in revenue): $60,000-$77,500 (2016) $62,000-$78,750 (2017)
  • Midsize company ($25 million-$250 million in revenue): $55,750-$68,250 (2016) $58,750-$69,500 (2017)
  • Small company (Up to $25 million in revenue): $52,000-$62,250 (2016) $53,750-$64,500 (2017)

Entry-Level Corporate Paralegal Salary (2-3 Years of Experience)

  • Large company (More than $250 million in revenue): $50,000-$61,250 (2016) $52,000-$63,250 (2017)
  • Midsize company ($25 million-$250 million in revenue): $46,500-$57,000 (2016) $47,250-$59,500 (2017)
  • Small company (Up to $25 million in revenue): $41,750-$52,500 (2016) $42,500-$53,750 (2017)

Are Paralegals Paid Hourly or on a Salary?

Most paralegals are paid a salary, but this can depend on where you live and your firm’s payroll processes.

As with all professions, paralegal salaries are largely determined by the job market and demand in the state or region in which they work. For example, it comes as no surprise that paralegals in states like California ($56,950) earn far more than their colleagues in North Dakota ($43,380).

A 2016 NALA National Utilization & Compensation Survey Report highlighted the differences in average paralegal salaries according to region:

  • New England/Mid-East: $59,830
  • Great Lakes: $58,090
  • Plains States: $56,949
  • Southeast: $59,110
  • Southwest: $64,990
  • Rocky Mountains: $60,212
  • Far West: $71,244

According to 2020 statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the national average salary for paralegals was $52,920, with the top 10% earning more than $85,160.

The highest-earning paralegals were located in Washington D.C. These legal professionals earned an average, annual salary of $83,330. In California, the demand for legal support is reaching new peaks every year as is reflected in the fact that paralegals here are the second-highest paid in the country, earning an average annual salary of $66,250.

Find your state’s average paralegal salary below:

Area Name
Employment
Annual median wage
Alabama
4130
46940
Alaska
730
57890
Arizona
7510
51550
Arkansas
2160
36710
California
33490
61520
Colorado
5520
60500
Connecticut
4860
59390
Delaware
1620
48290
District of Columbia
5870
83170
Florida
33760
49410
Georgia
11810
50660
Hawaii
1070
52310
Idaho
1460
48410
Illinois
13320
57300
Indiana
4350
45730
Iowa
2070
47810
Kansas
2450
39930
Kentucky
2960
43540
Louisiana
4930
47270
Maine
1280
48820
Maryland
6780
54390
Massachusetts
7110
58110
Michigan
6870
50510
Minnesota
5350
56360
Mississippi
1680
46180
Missouri
6860
46670
Montana
920
46940
Nebraska
2020
55280
Nevada
2100
58760
New Hampshire
1120
54530
New Jersey
7990
57530
New Mexico
1470
46420
New York
27540
57490
North Carolina
10940
46920
North Dakota
500
45810
Ohio
10790
46070
Oklahoma
2690
42050
Oregon
4660
53180
Pennsylvania
11870
56850
Rhode Island
1170
49160
South Carolina
6030
43250
South Dakota
450
48810
Tennessee
5770
45000
Texas
27630
52340
Utah
2960
54670
Vermont
630
51030
Virginia
10440
49050
Washington
6620
59900
West Virginia
1590
49850
Wisconsin
4320
48390
Wyoming
500
44650

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for Paralegals represent state and national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2021.

Other Factors Affecting Paralegal Salaries

The 2016 NALA report highlighted the many factors that affect paralegal salaries.

Bonuses: In 2016, the average bonus among paralegals was $4,598, which was about the same as bonuses paid in 2014, which averaged $4,581.

Benefits: Benefits are also often part of the total compensation package for paralegals. According to the NALA survey, the top benefits paralegals enjoyed in 2016 included:

  • Paid conference/seminar fees
  • Paid professional dues
  • Parking
  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance

Since 2014, NALA reported that about 80 percent of all paralegals reported that their employer provided and contributed to a retirement or pension plan, while another 35 percent reported their employer offered profit-sharing plans. Another 25-30 percent of paralegal employers offered health, dental, and vision insurance.

Some of the other benefits employers offered included tuition reimbursement, health club membership, leased car, childcare, disability insurance, maternity benefits, and mileage.

Learn More About Becoming a Paralegal

A lot of factors go into determining a paralegal’s salary, including years of experience, firm size, where your firm is located, and the benefits your employer offers. Learn more about becoming a paralegal with ParalegalEDU.org