Paralegal work can be rewarding, but it can also be demanding. Paralegals are pretty much crucial to the legal industry; while it takes an attorney to represent a client in court or to manage complex business transactions, it’s the paralegals who work behind the scene to make all of that happen. As a paralegal, you will research precedents, interview witnesses, draw up documents, set the attorney’s schedule – and occasionally make sure the morning meeting has donuts. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not easy, but it’s one of the best ways to build a foundation for a more advanced career in legal services.
It’s also one of the best-paying careers you can start with just an associate’s degree. That’s one of the main motivations for career-changing adults and prospective lawyers to enter a paralegal program. For paralegals and prospective paralegals wondering where their services will get them the best pay, Online Paralegal Programs has ranked the Top 10 Cities for Paralegals.
How We Ranked the Top 10 Cities for Paralegals
Our main concern with the Top 10 Cities ranking is to show paralegals where their services are most valued. The ranking is based on one factor – the average salary for paralegals and legal assistants based on the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. Be sure to also check out our Top 10 States for Paralegals!
1. San Jose, CA
With more than 1,800 employment opportunities at numerous law firms in the city or nearby technology-based corporations such as Google, Netflix, PayPal, eBay, or Qualcomm, San Jose is a promising place to launch a paralegal career. In addition to technical or online financial-related private corporations in need of legal assistance, this professional can find work directly with the United States District Court which is located locally. Today, San Jose is among the top best-paying cities for paralegals with an average annual salary of $86,630 for a senior position in the field making it high on the list of the best cities for paralegals.
Nearby, one of the first colleges to approve a paralegal degree in the state is just north of the city. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley and near the sunny Pacific coast, San Jose is a promising place to not only boot up but continue to grow a bright future as a paralegal.
Average Annual Salary: $86,630
2. Washington, DC
Working in the government seat of the United States opens up opportunities to make a difference on the forefront of justice and lawmaking allowing the opportunity to work with life-changing issues from immigration to national defense. There are more than 11,000 professionals working in the legal field within the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area, and more than 5,300 in the District of Columbia alone. Washington, DC is one of the best cities for paralegals as, at an average annual salary of $80,470, it is one of the best paying cities for paralegals.
Positioned on the Potomac River is the nation’s Capitol and White House. Once land shared with both Virginia and Maryland, it has since earned its own spot on the map dotted with memorials, monuments, museums, and within driving distance to the Atlantic Ocean. Washington DC has the United State’s most concentrated population of attorneys and the largest share of paralegal employment, so there is plenty of opportunity for an up-and-coming paralegal.
Average Annual Salary: $80,470
3. Trenton, NJ
Work alongside well-respected attorneys at law firms, such as Giordano Halleran & Ciesla, Wilkes & McHugh, or as a private assistant to corporations like Global Infotech, HCL America, or Solvay Chemicals. As one of the best cities for paralegals, Trenton, New Jersey, is near the top of the list of best-paying cities for paralegals offering an average annual salary of $69,430.
Make your mark in a northeastern town that holds the honor of being George Washington’s first military victory. The capital city of New Jersey currently employs more than 600 paralegals who service Trenton residents and corporations as well as the Philadelphia metropolitan area, so it’s no wonder the location has a higher than average share of employment outlook than most areas across the nation. It is also within short driving distance from top universities, such as Princeton or Rutgers and New Jersey State Library, which is one of the largest law libraries in the state.
Average Annual Salary: $69,430
4. San Francisco, CA
Home to aerospace defense, entertainment, apparel, energy, creative design and electronic corporations in the city as well as nearby Silicon Valley offering opportunities to work as an in-house paralegal at companies like Apple or Google, San Francisco provides a fantastic landscape for starting a legal professional career. Among other factors, the city by the bay is one of the best paying cities for paralegals with an average annual salary of $68,730 making San Francisco near the top for best cities for paralegals in the nation.
Surrounded by water on three sides, this bustling metropolis offers beauty in landscape and eclectic culture with steep rolling hills, streetcars, and famous landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge. As the fourth most populated city in the state, currently employing more than 5,500 in the legal field with an anticipated job growth filled with opportunities, San Francisco has a lot to offer for both an up-and-coming and experienced paralegal.
Average Annual Salary: $68,730
5. Seattle, WA
Out of more than 6,000 paralegals working in the state of Washington, approximately 4,000 find employment in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett and Tacoma metro areas, and this number is expected to grow. Of course, there are many well-respected law firms who are always looking to expand their team of experts, and the city is also home to major corporations, such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, who hire legal support staff. Look to Seattle when you consider the best cities for paralegals since this locale is one of the best paying cities for paralegals in America shelling out an average annual salary of $65,980 to qualified staff.
One drawing point is there is no income tax to pay in Washington state. Sweetly positioned between the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges and along the coast of the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the views couldn’t be more beautiful. With the city’s rapid growth, there is always going to be a demand for qualified legal professionals in Seattle.
Average Annual Salary: $65,980
6. Reno, NV
While Reno is known for gambling, it is also the location of several corporate headquarters that employ paralegals in-house, Server Technology, Bally, and International Game Technology as well as numerous law firms seeking the help of legal professional assistance. Tesla’s Gigafactory also calls Reno home. Reno is definitely among the best-paying cities for paralegals offering an average annual salary of $65,700. It’s not just the salary that makes it one of the best cities for paralegals in the nation.
Once known as the place to go if you wanted a divorce, The Biggest Little City in the World is now known mostly for its casinos and is a short drive to Lake Tahoe. It is also the home of The University of Nevada, Reno, and Truckee Meadows offer several options in paralegal certificates and degrees to help turn out the more than 300 legal professionals who currently work in town.
Average Annual Salary: $65,700
7. Hartford, CT
Big-name law firms, from Finn Dixon & Herling to nearby Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara LLC, the oldest and largest law firm in the area, those seeking a future as a paralegal in Hartford, CT have some exciting opportunities. Additionally, local financial or insurance corporations also use the services of this career. Look to Hartford when you need to find the best cities for paralegals including an expected average annual salary of $65,280 making it among the best paying cities for paralegals
Hartford is the capital city of the state. Life in this northeastern town is a weekend drive away to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, Approximately half of Connecticut’s paralegals work in the Hartford area ranking it ninth among United States metro areas with the highest concentration of paralegal jobs per capita, totaling about 2,100. Promising paralegal careers begin directly in Hartford at the University of Hartford where career hopefuls choose from three different programs.
Average Annual Salary: $65,280
8. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
In addition to countless law firms seeking assistance in new hires, large corporations like American Airlines, AT&T, Verizon, HP, Dell, or Texas Instruments, offer employment opportunities to new paralegals. With an expected average annual salary of $64,900, Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the best paying cities for paralegals and among the best cities for paralegals.
Located in the Texas Blackland Prairies region, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest in the south and in the state. Since the metroplex offers competitive legal job growth and salaries, it is a promising area for aspiring paralegals. The region employs more than 7,000 paralegal professionals with the anticipation that this number will grow. The area has one of the highest concentrations of headquarters for corporations in the nation and is often called the Telecom Corridor or Silicon Prairie because of the Information Technology businesses. It also is home to numerous colleges and universities where paralegal degrees and certificates can be obtained.
Average Annual Salary: $64,900
9. Savannah, GA
Savannah offers several law firms with attorneys to assist as well as many opportunities in the legal departments of health industry organizations, aerospace, Coca-Cola, UPS, or business and paper companies. Expect an average annual salary of $62,790, making Savannah, among the top best-paying cities for paralegals and overall best cities for paralegals in the United States.
Savannah is a river city on the southeast coast with the charm of horse-drawn carriages and impeccably manicured parks as well as a rich history that involve beautiful arched tree-lined streets, original cobblestones, and ghost stories. It’s also only a short drive to the beach. Currently, more than 300 paraprofessionals are employed with a career in Savannah. This number is expected to grow faster than the anticipated nationwide rate. Paralegals hopefuls don’t even need to leave the city to obtain their Associate degree in paralegal studies at South University in Savannah.
Average Annual Salary: $62,790
10. Boulder, CO
The job market for paralegals in Boulder, Colorado is promising and growing. It spans far beyond satisfying careers at law firms like Holland & Hart, Bryan Cave, or Leighton Paisner. Hain Celestial, IBM, and Lockheed Martin are among the larger employers who have an in-house legal department. The city itself is among the top best paying cities for paralegals in the nation, shelling out an average annual salary of $62,670 making it one of the best cities for paralegals.
This city, northwest of the Mile High City, is a small valley city near the edge of the Rockies. It’s almost always sunny, and education is highly valued including legal studies certificates and degrees obtained through its top-notch schools and university. Boulder is a good city for legal professionals employing about 370 and anticipating a projected job growth rate of more than 22 percent, which is much higher than the national average.
Average Annual Salary: $62,670
Do Paralegals with a Bachelor’s Degree Make More?
While it is not proven that paralegals with a Bachelor’s degree make more, the Bachelor’s Degree does offer Paralegals the ability for negotiation and promotion in their positions after entering an entry-level position. Paralegal salary with an associate’s degree is often described as entry-level salary, which can differ based upon the state and agency requirements.
The paralegal salary with a bachelor’s degree appears to be higher across the nation due to the additional skill set that is associated with a bachelor’s degree. With a paralegal salary with an associate degree as the minimum level of education is set at a particular pay band in some agencies, with the paralegal salary with a bachelor’s degree at a higher pay band. Some agencies are taking this route to allow those with a bachelor’s degree to earn more due to their advanced education.
For larger cities and metropolitan areas, the bachelor’s degree allows paralegals to be more marketable and competitive for the different paralegal jobs that are posted throughout the area. In areas that are smaller and more rural, a bachelor’s degree may not provide that salary increase due to the minimized competition.
How Can I Make More as a Paralegal?
If a paralegal is looking to improve their paralegal salary despite having an associate or a bachelor’s degree, they should consider specializations. Some of the highest-paid paralegal specialties include:
- Estate Planning and Probate
- Intellectual Property
- Real Estate
The jobs in the legal field that pay well include specializations like corporate paralegal, estate planning and probate, or immigration paralegal are just a few of the rising specialties. The corporate paralegal salary and the immigration paralegals are some of the highest paid paralegal specialties in the last few years. These specialties allow types of paralegals and salaries to increase based upon these specializations, giving paralegals marketing and negotiating power with jobs in the legal field that pay well.
How Much Do Paralegals Make in NYC?
A prime example is New York City. The leading city in the US for Paralegals, the salaries in NYC are much higher than the national average salary by over fifteen percent. This is a significant salary increase compared to the national average. NYC is also where over 20,000 paralegals are employed within these different specializations such as the corporate paralegal salary. While the salaries in NYC are certainly competitive, many cities across the US are looking to them in an attempt to maintain paralegals within their own areas so that they can retain educated and experienced paralegals within their own city limits.
What is the Average Paralegal Starting Salary in the US?
Across the nation, paralegal starting salary begins on average around $16.33, or an annual salary of $40,472. Many paralegals find themselves somewhere just below that paralegal pay scale or right in line with this pay, especially if they are in the larger metropolitan areas. On the sliding scale, the larger cities like NYC, Chicago, and Washington DC with a larger paralegal presence reflected the higher salaries. The suburbs and rural areas will be on the lower end of the paralegal pay scale that was presented to gain this average.
The majority of the starting salaries presented were listed as high 30k salaries and into the 40k range, which is expected from the capital cities and other busy areas found across the nation. Payscale does report, however, that despite the range of paralegal starting salaries, almost all of them are presented with bonuses and commissions. The paralegal pay scale is also expected to continue an incline of salary increase like any other legal profession that is competitive.