Are you considering a career in legal support in the state of Maryland? Paralegal professionals support legal professionals and have exceptional oral and written communication skills, legal research skills, and sufficient knowledge of standard legal principles.
Maryland state law does not mandate that a paralegal become certified to work in the state, although there are specific requirements to know when learning how to become a paralegal in Maryland, as follows –
- Be of legal age – 18+
- Currently, be a US Citizen or a Legal Alien
And while not required, certification for Maryland paralegals is highly recommended by the Maryland Association of Paralegals (MAP), a state-level professional organization affiliated with the NFPA – the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
As you consider your paralegal career, keep in mind that –
- Potential employers will require the completion of a background check as part of their standard application procedure.
- Maryland paralegals must comply with Maryland’s 5.3 Rule – which requires all paralegals to be supervised by a licensed Maryland attorney who accepts responsibility for their professional actions. They must also comply with the profession’s Code of Ethics.
- Depending on the paralegal position, employers will often prefer candidates with experience. This experience can be obtained through internships (often a required part of a paralegal degree program) or volunteering with the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau.
How to Become a Paralegal in Maryland?
Because Maryland paralegal professionals are not regulated, those aspiring to become a legal support member or paralegal professional can enter the profession through an on-the-job approach or by earning a certificate or a paralegal degree from one of the quality Maryland paralegal programs.
Although it is noted that most employers expect paralegal candidates to have completed some type of post-secondary education related to paralegal studies, it is not a requirement. Fortunately, the on-campus or online paralegal degree programs in Maryland are not required to be ABA-approved. However, there is a variety of campus-based and online paralegal degree and certificate programs in paralegal studies, business law, legal studies, litigation, or business law, to name a few.
Many certificates and paralegal degree programs can help entry-level paralegals in a competitive market land a choice job. These campus-based and online paralegal degree programs can be ABA-approved which is often preferred. There are two traditional types of paralegal certificate programs, which require no general education classes. Graduates of these programs are considered certificated paralegals –
- A paralegal studies program for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree but need to complete additional coursework.
- A paralegal studies program for those without any prior education.
After graduating from an on-campus or online paralegal degree program, paralegals have the option of becoming certified.
National Certification for Paralegals
Maryland, like many other states, has not set forth education/training requirements for paralegals. However, those interested can obtain voluntary national certification, which demonstrates the professional command of the paralegal profession.
To obtain National Certification, a paralegal must demonstrate a combination of education and work experience, which makes them eligible to sit for one of the four available national examinations –
- The PACE certification provided by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The PCCE certification provided by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The PP certification provided by the Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
- The CLA/CP certification provided by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
Paralegal professionals working in and around Maryland may choose to join these state-level professional organizations dedicated to paralegals –
- The Maryland Association of Paralegals – MAP
- The National Capital Area Paralegal Association (NCAPA)
- The American Paralegal Association – Baltimore (AAP)
Salary Data for Maryland Paralegals & Legal Assistants
Paralegal work is an integral part of any legal team. Paralegal positions and responsibilities vary, depending on the exact job and place of employment.
According to Occupational Outlook Handbook assembled by the BLS, the median yearly wage for paralegals & legal assistants in 2020 was $52,920. This is equivalent to an hourly salary of $25.44 per hour. In May 2020, there were nearly 346,000 paralegal and legal assistant professionals in the United States.
Paralegal’s salaries fall within this range –
|10%||$ 32,900||$15.82 per hour|
|25%||$ 40,640||$19.54 per hour|
|Median – 50%||$ 52,920||$25.44 per hour|
|75%||$ 67,080||$32.25 per hour|
|90%||$ 85,160||$40.94 per hour|
The median yearly wage for paralegals & legal professionals in Maryland for 2020 was $56,710, which falls above the national median wage of $52,920. However, the metro area of DC, VA, MD, and VA offers some of the highest wages in the United States, with a median salary of $70,700 to more than 12,750 paralegal professionals.