Paralegals: 2017 Salaries for the Top 10 Legal Jobs

2017 is fast approaching.  What does this mean for those in the legal profession?  If you are out there looking for a new job, or are a new paralegal job hunting for the first time, trying to figure out what a good salary to ask for can be a problem.

Salaries for legal professionals, including paralegals, depend on a lot of variables. Check out Special Counsel’s graphic to see the predicted salary rates for the top ten legal jobs, including paralegals.  Here in Kansas City where I live, they are pretty spot on as far as salary rates for paralegals working at a mid size firm. However, the mid size firms here do expect a few more years experience for that rate. 

The paralegal salary rate you are paid, however, depends on a lot of variables.  Read below to see what they are.  Special Counsel also offers a free salary guide you can download from their website. 

Source: Special Counsel

Most paralegal or legal jobs are going to base a lot of your pay rate on your experience in the field or your experience with the company. The basis for this is easy to understand, as the more independent you become in your job, the less supervision is necessary and therefore you are worth more to the company. The more tasks you can complete without the aide of anyone else the better off you will be in terms of the salary or pay rate you can command.

The kind of law firm you work for:
The kind of law firm you work for is going to have a little bit to do with how much you are paid as a paralegal as well. Some types of law require more in-depth and important research work. These types of law practices will typically pay better for paralegals as well. In other words, criminal defense law paralegals will likely earn more than those that assist with a non-profit type of law. The kind of law practiced can have a big impact on the salary or pay rate. And size matters.  The larger law firms will pay more and offer better benefits, but may require specialized skills and more experience. 

This is not unlike many occupations in that the area in which you live might have more demand for certain types of law, meaning there is more demand for paralegals and other legal jobs. The more you are in demand the better your pay will be and you will be able to earn more than in another area. Areas of high population are usually going to pay the top legal job salaries more because there are more people that will be in need of your services. 

The type of job duties performed: 
A paralegal  job description is dictated by the type of practice you join and the level of your position. Some companies such as those involved with the government will have fairly rigid job descriptions while others will expect you to do whatever tasks are required to look after the client efficiently and cost effectively. It really depends on the type of role you want. Some paralegals do double duty as the legal secretary, typing letters and prepping filings.  Other paralegals do strictly research or discovery. 

How does Special Counsel's paralegal salary guide, and other top legal jobs match up with what you are paid in your area?  Does it seem high or low? Let me know in the comments!

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