Paralegal work can be rewarding, but it can also be demanding. To make sure you’re compensated for the hard work that a paralegal has to do, we have an updated list of the Top 10 cities based for paralegals, based primarily on pay and employment rates.
We’ll be using data from the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey to show the mean (average) salary for Paralegals in each area and sort the top ten via salary only. We’ll also include current data from Salary.com. We’re using the entry-level “Paralegal I” job title on Salary.com, and the salary ranges are a little less optimistic than the BLS. Remember that company size, your experience, and your negotiation abilities may significantly impact your salary.
Washington, DC Metro Area
DC @ Salary.com: $57, 804
With its position as the home of the Federal Government, replete with all of the power plays, litigation, and contracts that comes along for the ride, is a hotbed for lawyers and (therefore) paralegals.
The BLS has Washington, DC listed as #6 for the highest rate of employment for Paralegals. If you want the best salary possible with a high rate of employment, you can’t beat DC.
San Francisco, CA
SF @ Salary.com: $62,520
San Francisco is immediately adjacent to San Jose and the still-booming Silicon Valley, and catches a similar population of tech startups, entrepreneurs, and the legal needs that come with the people living there. In addition, brings a slightly higher wage that San Jose, but may also command a higher cost of living.
WIth all of this, you’ll find great culture and amenities living in one of the most well-regarded cities in the US.
San Francisco has an average rate of employment for paralegals according to the BLS, though the median wage is near the top for the country and San Francisco is a great city.
San Jose, CA
San Jose @ Salary.com: $60,431
San Jose is part of Silicon Valley, a high-tech corridor that boasts many technology workers, employees, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts. This results in a high acuity of legal necessity, requiring contract negotiation, intellectual property concerns, and business
The BLS Survey lists San Jose, California as another of the highest paid cities for paralegals. It is also rated slightly higher than San Francisco for employment rates.
Anchorage @ Salary.com: $66,596
Moving to Alaska takes a certain type of person. The long winters may be tough, but the adventure of living in Alaska might just be your style. With access to amazing outdoor spaces just a stone’s throw from the city, Anchorage is paradise for a paralegal with a frontier spirit.
Anchorage has a slightly above-average employment rate for paralegals, but commands one of the higher salaries in the US. Keep in mind that Alaska also provides a stipend to each citizen each year – the individual payment in 2015 was $2,072.
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles @ Salary.com: $56,135
Living and working in one of the largest, most diverse cities in the US has advantages and disadvantages, to be sure. One of them, for paralegals, is that large cities come with many opportunities to practice law and, therefore, support these practitioners.
Los Angeles is shown to have average employment numbers for paralegals, and the area emplos roughly 8,000 paralegals.
Seatlle @ Salary.com: $54,727
Seattle is a bustling city with great culture, lots to do, and lots of opportunities for a driven paralegal. Seattle is another tech center. According to Greg Gottsman of the Madona Venture group,
“During this time period, the Pacific Northwest has had an incredible influx of engineers, some to startups and many to bolster the engineering offices of companies that aren’t headquartered here like Google and Facebook.” According to geekwire.com.
Again, with this startup growth comes a lot of legal activity, and Seattle is positioned for large growth – it’s the perfect time to get your foot in the door.
Seattle is mentioned as having an average rate of employment for paralegals, but there are 3,000 paralegal jobs. That means a lot of activity in the field of law paired with a great location and a great salary.
Bridgeport @ Salary.com: $56,821
If you’re looking for a metropolitan area, but not quite so urban, Bridgeport might be a great option. With a population of 144,000 in the city proper (roughly 1 million in the metro area), and one of the highest rates of employments for paralegals per capita, Bridgeport is a beautiful New England city in which to make your paralegal career.
Lake & Kenosha Counties, IL/WI
Waukegan, IL & Kenosha, WI @ Salary.com: $48,465
This metro area is a little different than most of the others. It outlines a contiguous area across state lines and covers various cities on Lake Michigan.
Obviously, living on or near Lake Michigan comes with significant benefit to anyone who likes waterfront access or a little time out on the lake.
The downside is that, while the average salary is in the top ten, there is a limit to the market for paralegals in the area with a low employment rate for your profession. You’ll want to position yourself properly and be ahead of the curve to secure what will definitely be a competitive market.
Newark-Union NJ/PA Metro Area
Newark/Union @ Salary.com: $60,369
The final metro area on our list is Newark, NJ. The area has a good market and slightly above-average employment rates for paralegals, and rounds out the top ten salary market.
One major benefit of the Newark area is the proximity to New York City without having to pay the NYC rent prices. It’s also a hotbed of legal activity, according to Wikipedia, “as a major courthouse venue including federal, state, and county facilities, it is home to more than 1,000 law firms.”
As they say, it’s all about “location, location, location.” Above are the top 10 cities for paralegals based on salary. Hopefully that, and the employment data we’ve included, will help you choose an area in which to start or continue your career as a paralegal!