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 that 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 lawyers 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.
- The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations – Position Statement on Paralegal Regulation
- The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations – Position Statement on Paralegal Education Standards
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.
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 $25.44 per hour. In addition, the paralegal industry is expected to experience job growth of 10% through 2029, which is anticipated growth equal to about 2.5 times the national average for the same timeframe.
The following represents the national percentile of paralegal salaries – from entry-level paralegal jobs in New York City to top paralegal positions
|Paralegal Salary – May 2020|
|10%||$ 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 –
|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 –
- The Adirondack Paralegal Association,
- The Capital District Paralegal Association, Inc (CDPA), affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The New York City Paralegal Association, Inc. (NYCPA), affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The Onondaga County Bar Association Paralegals Committee,
- The Paralegal Association of Rochester (PAR), affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The Western New York Paralegals Association (WNYPA), affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
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 –
- The New York Department of State
- The New York State Bar Association (NYBA) – list of statewide/local bar associations
- The New York City Bar Association
- The New York State Unified Court System
- The New York Women’s Bar Association
For Important and Relevant Paralegal External Resources
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.