New York Paralegal Education, Career and Salary Guide

New York represents the largest legal market in the nation, in terms of active participating professionals. New York is home to a significant number of the globe’s most profitable companies, with tremendous revenues fueling a strong legal marketplace. Many international firms also have a foothold in tew York, which is why the Big Apple, New York’s crown jewel, is likely considered the country’s financial center. This is likely why much of the legal work is corporate-driven, crossing practice areas that range from litigation to regulatory compliance to transactional law.

For example, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, and Affiliates (aka Skadden) is one of the largest law firms across the globe and headquartered in New York. Paralegals jobs in New York can also be found in in the state or city government, particularly with the state District Attorney, New York City’s Law Department, and the New York State Governor’s Office

In May 2020, the state of New York had more than 27,500 working paralegals and legal assistants, ranking the state with the fourth most paralegals/legal assistants, behind Florida, California, and Texas. When viewed as a larger metropolitan area (encompassing New York, Jersey & Pennsylvania), there were approximately 27,500 attorneys employed in 2020.

If you have a super-serious interest in a career as a paralegal, before diving headfirst into a specific paralegal program, take your time to answer these questions regarding the steps to learn how to become a paralegal in NY –

  • What are the paralegal requirements in NY?
  • Where can I learn how to become a certified paralegal in NY? Is it different to learn how to become a paralegal in NYC?
  • Which of the entry level paralegal jobs in New York have the highest starting salary?
  • Which of the ABA approved paralegal programs in New York is considered the best?
  • Are there ABA approved paralegal programs in NY that can be completed online?
  • What is the average salary of a paralegal in New York and in New York City?

Learn How to Become a Paralegal in New York

Paralegals who wish to work in New York or New York City should understand the as a state, New York adheres to the ABA’s (the American Bar Association) model that offers guidance as to the roles of responsibilities of lawyer and non-lawyer assistants.

According to the ABA’s Rule 5.3, of which New York seeks to comply, lawyers are tasked with the responsibility of supervising all paraprofessionals under their supervision, which ultimately includes ongoing education regarding matters of confidentiality and ethics.

Note – All paralegal’s professional conduct is recognized to be under the responsibility of the paralegal’s supervising attorney.

What are the Paralegal Requirements in New York?

Paralegals who wish to work within the boundaries of New York state law are not mandated by any state statute to meet standardized educational/training requirements to be eligible to enter into the paralegal profession.

The (ESAPA) – Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations, a statewide paralegal alliance and professional organization, offers this articulate state on its position regard to education and Paralegal Requirements in New York State ESAPA’s belief in standardized educational requirements –

  • An associate degree from one of the ABA-approved paralegal programs in New York
  • A post-baccalaureate certificate or a baccalaureate degree with a major or minor focus in the field of paralegal studies.

How to Become a Paralegal in New York – Career Starter Tips

Because New York has no regulatory requirements with regard to paralegal certification, there are many paths that will allow you to become a successful, professional paralegal. The most common path to a successful career is the combination of education and experience, although some avenues to paralegal careers may also require on-the-job training.

Paralegal job candidates should bear in mind that though certification is not required, voluntary certification usually makes a job applicant more appealing, which makes your job application simply more competitive.

Is There Paralegal Certification in New York?

The Empire State of New York has no existing educational requirements for those paralegals working in New York. Entry level paralegal jobs in New York most often require job candidates to have obtained an associate degree in paralegal studies/legal assisting. The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations (ESAPA) supports paralegal certification through national certification, a process that allows paralegals to become certified.

This link offers those paralegal schools in the state that the American Bar Association’s approval.

Certification requirements for paralegals offer paralegal professionals the opportunity to demonstrate to others (and future employers) that they are proficient and skilled professionals by –

  • Meeting rigorous educational & training requirements within an acceptable paralegal program – programs that provide foundational legal knowledge emphasizing legal procedures, ethics, and the skills required to become a professional researcher and legal writer.
  • Successfully passing one of the national certifications administered by the three most influential national professional paralegal associations.

Although state level certificates for paralegals in not a mandate for most states – including New York, aspiring paralegal professionals are encouraged to obtain national certification through one of these avenues –

  • The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) – The CP – Certified Paralegal Program has essentially been recognized to be the national standard for paralegal and legal assistant professionals. Follow this link to learn more about NALA’s CP eligibility requirements. Paralegals will greatly benefit from completing an ABA approved paralegal program in New York and by achieving CP certification from NALA.
  • The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) – The NFPA is considered to be the oldest paralegal association at the national level, with a professional mission to advance the paralegal profession. The NFPA offers several credentials that include the PACE (Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam) certification for those with paralegal experience.
  • The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI) – established in 2003 to promote the professional through a focus on individual contributions, the AAPI has developed the AAPI Code of Ethics for paralegals.  Additionally, the AAPI offers the AACP credential for paralegal professionals.
  • The National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) – the NALS offers a variety of certifications to help advance the paralegal profession. These include the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP), the Professional Paralegal (PP), and the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS).

Note – To compare the national level of paralegal certification exams, follow this link to Paralegal.org’s website.

Many hiring lawyers, especially in those New York locations with a large of paralegal professionals from which to choose, prefer to hire entry-level paralegals that have earned degrees/post baccalaureate certificates in paralegal studies. And while the paralegal degree is important, it is equally important to select a program that is ABA approved. In New York, most paralegal professionals choose to take the PACE or PCCE exams, as these credentials are offered by organizations with a professional affiliation with ESAPA and the NFPA.

Paralegal in New York Salary

According to the federal statisticians at the BLS, in 2020, the median annual salary for the 337,000 paralegals/legal assistants in the country – at the national level, was $52,920, which translates to $25.44 per hour. In addition, the paralegal industry is expected to experience a job growth of 10% through 2029, which is anticipated growth equal to about 2.5 times the national average for the same timeframe.

The following represents the national percentile of paralegal salaries – from entry level paralegal jobs in New York City to top paralegal positions

National
Percentile
Paralegal Salary – May 2020
10% $ 32,900 per year
25% $ 40,640 per year
Median – 50% $ 52,920 per year
75% $ 67,080 per year
90% $ 85,160 per year

The industries with the highest paying paralegal salaries are as follows –

Industries Paralegal Salary – May 2020
Wholesalers/Nondurable Goods $ 134,210 per year
Land Subdivision or Real Estate $ 90,360 per year
Semiconductor/Electronic Comp $ 85,440 per year
Grantmaking & Giving Services $ 85,350 per year
Natural Gas Distribution $ 62,530 per year

The states with the highest paying paralegal salaries are as follows –

State Paralegal Salary – May 2020
Washington, DC $ 83,330 per year
California $ 66,250 per year
Washington $ 63,050 per year
Colorado $ 62,950 per year
New York $ 62,530 per year

The states that have the highest level of paralegals and legal assistants – are as follows –

State Number of Paralegal Jobs Paralegal Salary – May 2020
Florida 33,760 $ 52,100 per year
California 33,490 $ 66,250 per year
Texas 27,630 $ 57,020 per year
New York 27,540 $ 62,530 per year
Illinois 13,320 $ 60,390 per year

The New York, New Jersey, & Pennsylvania tri-state metro areas that have the highest level of paralegals and legal assistants – are as follows –

Metropolitan
Area
Number of Paralegal Jobs Paralegal Salary – May 2020
NY – NJ – PA 27,600 $ 64,850 per year
LA, Long Beach, Anaheim CA 15,250 $ 63,390 per year
Miami, Ft Lauderdale, WPB FL 13,280 $ 66,250 per year
DC – VA – MD – WV 12,760 $ 70,700 per year
Chicago, IL – IN – WI 11,480 $ 61,140 per year

Paralegal in New York Salary

According to Salary.com, the average paralegal in New York salary – across the state, was $62,947 (June 2021), although salaries vary depending on the location within New York and these important factors –

  • Educational background and academic degrees
  • Earned certifications
  • Unique, or additional skills
  • The number of years of paralegal experience, among others.

Paralegal Salary in New York City

According to the ADP (Automated Data Processing) data analyzed by ZipRecuriter.com, in July 2020, the average paralegal salary in New York City was $51,716, which translates to an hourly salary of $24.85.

According to glassdoor.com, the higher paying paralegal salary in New York City tends to hover around $71,200 per year.

Paralegal Professional Associations

New York is home to a variety of regional associations dedicated to the paralegal profession. The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Association (ESAPA) has six member organizations that seek to unite paralegals as a united voice in state and national paralegal issues.

The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Association helps paralegal professionals unite as a voice of advocacy in matters of related legislation and seeks to ensure paralegal professionals working in the Empire State are updated and informed of topical issues potential legal modifications.

The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Association currently includes these member organizations –

Important Contacts for those in Search of a Paralegal Job in New York

Paralegal professionals and students with interest in working in New York will find the following helpful links with regard to practicing in New York –

For Important and Relevant Paralegal External Resources

The Take-Away

Paralegals are a fundamental part of the legal profession, with skills to support lawyers that also free up a lawyer’s time for other matters. The New York paralegal job market offers a wide variety of options for skilled paralegals and legal assistants, often with both domestic and international employment options available.

The industry has come to the wise conclusions that the work done by talented paralegals is not simply a luxury to the law firm or its attorneys but an integral part of the business of law that has demonstrated why their skills are in demand and very much a necessity.

Related:

Top 10 Paralegal Programs in New York

How to Become a Paralegal in New York

Ultimate Guide to State Paralegal Associations

Top 10 States for Paralegals