The field of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow substantially by 2020, according to the United States Bureau of Labor statistics. Paralegals are going to be a field with jobs in demand.
Although the requirements for becoming certified vary by state, generally people obtain a two year Associates Degree with certification prior to entering the field.
Like any career choice, work opportunities in the paralegal field can vary by state, and in order to ascertain geographies that have a strong outlook for paralegal jobs, one can look at states that are projected to have strong economic and population growth over the next ten years, as these are the areas where the law profession will grow proportionately.
In some cases, jobs in demand is a matter of a pent-up back log from states that were particularly slow the past few years. States are listed in alphabetical order.
As with most states in the sunbelt, Arizona’s population is exploding, including an influx of new residents from other countries. With an increase in population comes an increase in new companies, employment opportunities, and jobs. Arizona is a hotbed for immigration law, and many opportunities are being created in that segment of law.
The Golden State is expected to add more jobs than any other state over the next few years. With three major cities and a host of federal and state government offices, the aerospace and agricultural industries, the legal field is expected to grow proportionately to the economy. California offers one of the widest swaths of law specialties, from environmental to immigration to entertainment and many other disciplines.
Colorado opportunities for legal support jobs are growing in the Rocky Mountain area. Environmental law is a growth area in Colorado, as are the fields of service, energy, agriculture and leisure activities. Each of these industries present special opportunities for specialized paralegal jobs in demand.
The Sunshine State is a perennial candidate for growth, with a constantly growing population, a heavy concentration in the agricultural and fisheries industries, as well as tourism and immigration. One of the downsides of living in Florida, the occasional landfall of tropical storms which can cause widespread damage to property also creates opportunities in the law profession.
The center of the country and home to one of the nation’s greatest cities, Chicago is the hub of transportation for much of the food produced throughout the Midwestern United States, and home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Sears, United Airlines, Boeing, Kraft, Archer Daniels Midland, Allstate, McDonalds and numerous pharmaceutical concerns. With such a wide base to the economy, the job prospects in Chicago are very bright, for these industries and the law firms that support them. A great many of these companies conduct business globally, presenting opportunities for specialization in the field of international law.
Another growth state due to a pleasant climate and abundant space, paralegal positions in the hospitality and entertainment industries will be the main draw. Nevada’s relaxed regulations for corporations makes it the home base for many companies that require paralegals to do occasional work even though the primary company offices are not located within the state.
The financial capital of the world, New York City is home to 75,000 lawyers, which means there are thousands of support positions as well. Growth in the legal profession in New York will continue to come from the financial and insurance industries, as well as international trade, corporate law, and to a lesser extent, immigration. Corporate law offices will grow in the Fortune 500 companies based in New York, including a great many global banks and investment banking firms, as well as commercial companies like Time-Warner, Viacom, CBS, Estee Lauder, IBM and others.
Formerly the center of much of the furniture and textile industries in America, North Carolina’s economy has switched to a service base, with companies like Duke Energy, Reynolds, Lowes and Bank of America all calling North Carolina home. As the remaining tobacco industries diversify, opportunities are created in the law areas of mergers and acquisitions, among other fields. Numerous companies that do business with firms like Bank of America and Lowes as examples have found it advantageous to relocate their operations to North Carolina as well.
Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love” and the birthplace of the United States, is in the heart of the mega-opolis being created on the East Coast with an urban area stretching from Boston on the North to Washington DC on the South; of course New York City sits right in the middle.
Philadelphia was formerly the legal and financial center for the steel and ore industries that dotted the western part of the state, and many of the support companies still exist, albeit somewhat smaller in size today. Pennsylvania hosts its share of Fortune 500 companies however, including US Steel, Comcast, Rite Aid, PPG, and Sunoco. Major east coast law firms tend to have satellite offices in each of the major cities of the Northeast, and Philadelphia is no exception.
Producing the majority of oil used in the United States, energy and related companies fuel the growth of the Texas economy. The state has been on a very aggressive campaign to persuade Fortune 500 companies to relocate from other parts of the country to the Lone Star State and so far the effort has been very successful. Among the major employers in Texas you will find Exxon-Mobil, ConocoPhillips, AT&T, Dell, Sysco, Kimberly Clark, JC Penny, Southwest Airlines, Clear Channel Communications and many more. As the energy companies explore new technologies and alternative energies, new jobs are being created in energy and intellectual property law as well.
If you’re motivated only by salary, the cities that pay the highest in this field can be found online.
A factor in your geographic decision may be where you attend paralegal school, and it’s worth looking over a list of ABA certified programs when making that choice.