How much money can I earn as a Paralegal?

by SAM
(Tucson, Arizona)

How much money can I expect to earn my first year working as paralegal in a small firm specializing in criminal defense?

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Apr 24, 2012
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How Much Can I Earn As A Paralegal?
by: Elaine

Thank you for your question. There are several factors influencing how much you can make as a Paralegal.

The average paralegal salary is around $40,000 annually. Whether you earn this with a small firm specializing in criminal defense depends on your education (do you have a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree or a certificate?).

Is your education from an ABA approved program?

Geography is a factor. Whether you'll work in a metropolitan area or not affects how much you'll earn. Law firms pay better in cities than in smaller areas where an hourly rate can range any where from $10.00 to $20.00.

Your level of experience is also a contributing factor. Are you entry level or have you been in the profession for a while?

Are you starting out with the criminal defense specialty or are you transferring from another area of law? The hiring firm will need to assess what if any learning curve exists for you as they try incorporating you and your skills into their law practice.

Small firms can pay competitively, but most often the average paralegal salary will improve with larger law offices because they have more work to offer you. The more responsibility and initiative you show, the better opportunity you have for increasing your wages and potential bonuses.

Lastly, criminal defense paralegals may not earn as well as corporate paralegal, trademark paralegals, intellectual property paralegals or paralegals who manage contract administration. There are a lot of areas of law to specialize in where you may earn considerably more.

Check out job postings on this site as well as in your local area for a better idea of what your local market is paying for paralegal skills.

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