Paralegals and Legal Assistants Occupational Outlook

This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants. This is just the summary – there is much more information available on their website located at

Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support their attorneys.

Quick Facts: Paralegals and Legal Assistants
2010 Median Pay $46,680 per year
$22.44 per hour
Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 256,000
Job Outlook, 2010-20 18% (About as fast as average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 46,900

What Paralegals and Legal Assistants Do

Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.

Work Environment

Paralegals and legal assistants are found in all types of organizations, but most work for law firms, corporate legal departments, or government agencies. They usually work full time, and overtime is sometimes needed to meet important deadlines.

How to Become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree or a certificate in paralegal studies. In some cases, employers may hire college graduates with a bachelor’s degree but no legal experience or education and train them on the job.


The median annual wage of paralegals and legal assistants was $46,680 in May 2010.

Job Outlook

Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. This occupation attracts many applicants, and competition for jobs will be strong. Experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best job prospects.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of paralegals and legal assistants with similar occupations.


O*NET provides comprehensive information on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

Contacts for More Information

Learn more about paralegals and legal assistants by contacting these additional resources.

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