Where Can Paralegals Work?

Where Can Paralegals Work?

If you are interested in a career in the legal system, it is possible to earn to a degree in Paralegal Studies in far less time than it would take to complete Law School.

Contrary to popular belief, paralegals also work in many different places besides law firms. There are several fields that require paralegals, and the demand for paralegals is greater than ever.

When considering where paralegals can work, it's essential to understand the diverse range of environments they operate in. Let’s look at some of the different places paralegals work, what the work looks like in each field, and which regions are the best places for paralegals to find employment.

Eight Fields Where Paralegals Can Find Work

The demand for paralegals is high. The Bureau of Labor Statistic projects a 12% job growth for paralegals between 2020 and 2030. Over 41,000 new paralegal jobs will be created over this time frame.

Note: The data provided above are from a source unaffiliated with Campus, formerly known as MTI College, are for informational purposes only and represent the employment field as a whole. They are not solely specific to Campus graduates and, by providing the above information, Campus makes no representation, direct or implied, or opinion regarding employability.

Exploring the various environments where paralegals thrive can provide insights into the breadth of their career possibilities. Here are eight sectors where paralegals can find employment opportunities.

Within the legal realm, the work environment for paralegals encompasses a multitude of settings beyond traditional law firms. However, legal firms are one of the most prominent places where paralegals find work. This makes sense as the basic duties of paralegals are to provide support to attorneys.

While paralegals cannot give legal advice or practice law, they provide invaluable support to legal offices and perform essential work. Understanding the dynamic work environment of paralegals offers insight into their indispensable role within legal offices.

In California, about 75% of paralegals work in Legal Services. Nationally, about 73% of paralegals work in Legal Services.

Paralegals in private law firms work under the supervision of an attorney to investigate laws, gather evidence, create reports, interview clients, compile and organize documents, prepare paperwork for filing with the Court, prepare cases for trial, and other important duties which keep the law firm running smoothly and ensure that the clients’ are zealously represented. The work environment within private law firms underscores the crucial support paralegals offer in a myriad of tasks, ensuring the seamless operation of legal proceedings and client representation.

Entry-level paralegal positions in California usually require an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies.

Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree might be able to start at higher positions within a law firm. Salary is usually dependent on experience, location of the firm, and size of the firm.

2. Government

Both nationally and in California, the three leading places where paralegals work are, in order: Legal Services, Government (Federal, State, and local), and Corporate Law.

According to EDD, these are the leading sectors where paralegals work in California:

Industry TitlePercentage of Paralegal Employment in California
Legal Services75.0%
Local Government6.3%
Federal Government3.2%
Management of Companies and Enterprises1.5%
State Government1.2%

Paralegals are needed at all levels of government: federal, state, and local. The duties you will perform will vary depending on the level of government in which you are working. Within government entities, the work environment for paralegals varies significantly based on the jurisdiction and level of governance they serve.

What is the work environment like for paralegals in government agencies?

At the state level, you may need to be familiar with insurance or housing law. Paralegals working in local government may work with county attorneys or public defenders, legal aid assistance, or be involved with community outreach. In government positions, you must have highly focused knowledge of the area of law that your agency deals with. Exploring the work environment within governmental agencies reveals the specialized knowledge and skills required for effective paralegal support across different legal domains.

3. Corporate

Paralegals in corporate law usually work in-house for a single company, helping set up legal documents for a company. If you are a paralegal working in corporate law, you will seldom interact with the courts or the public. So, what type of work does the corporate paralegal do?

Within corporate settings, the work environment for paralegals emphasizes internal legal support and regulatory compliance, offering unique challenges and opportunities for professional growth. Typical duties an in-house paralegal might do include: reviewing contracts, protecting intellectual property, overseeing company compliance with federal and state regulations, preparing incorporation documents, recording board of directors minutes, helping human resources, and working with outside counsel on litigated matters. The work environment for in-house paralegals encompasses a diverse range of responsibilities, ensuring legal compliance and strategic support within corporate structures.

Paralegals in corporate law may also review contracts for product licensing, consult on legal documents for partnerships and affiliate agreements, or draft privacy or GDPR policies.

Corporate paralegals work in a fast-paced environment, and typically have more career mobility than paralegals in a private law firm. If business fascinates you, this may be the ideal career path for you as a paralegal.

4. Real Estate and Title Insurance

This is a specialized field that may require the paralegal to earn a certification for working with real estate documents (depending on your state). Within real estate and title insurance, the work environment for paralegals demands specialized expertise in document preparation and regulatory compliance, often necessitating additional certifications for proficiency.

In most states, you will have to pass a realtor’s exam to prepare this paperwork. If you are also selling title insurance, you will have to pass a certification exam to be an insurance broker.

Why might you choose this path? Every time a mortgage is underwritten and real estate is sold, a title company must prepare documents for filing, as ownership of the property is transferred.

Houses and property are always being sold, and there is always a need for licensed individuals who can prepare these documents. Paralegals that work in real estate or title insurance can perform a title search and file the necessary documents with the courts after a sale.

5. Estate Planning and Probate

Estate planning is an important service. As people get older, they begin planning how their estate will be managed after their death.

Navigating the laws can be confusing and overwhelming for clients, and the paralegal helps them through this process. Empathy, interpersonal skills, and compassion are traits that will help the paralegal work effectively with clients in this sector.

The estate planning paralegals help clients prepare wills, set up estates and trusts, plan property distribution, and help with probate hearings and deeds.

Some of the tasks you may be required to help clients with include managing the recordation of deeds, managing inheritance taxes, preparing and filing wills and living wills, or filing probate pleadings.

6. NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)

If you are motivated by social issues, and want to make a difference, becoming a paralegal for an NGO might be a viable option for you. NGOs are almost always non-profits, and usually rely on donations and government grants to do their work.

As a result, the pay for an NGO paralegal will almost certainly be less than a for a paralegal working in corporate law or in a prestigious law firm. However, the impact you can make on the world can be fulfilling.

Some examples of issues that NGOs may tackle include: low-income housing, legal representation for refugees or immigrants, representing domestic abuse victims, documenting human rights violations, fighting for civil liberties, or protecting land involved in tribal treaties.

Certain NGOs may visit other countries, and paralegals may assist in acquiring paperwork or documenting specific rights violations. In these cases, a deep understanding of international law will be beneficial.

Paralegals for NGOs may not be in the public eye, but they provide a valuable service for the clients they assist.

7. Immigration Services

Paralegals working in immigration law may work at a law office specializing in immigration law or at corporations that require an immigration lawyer (i.e., for H-B1 visas).

These paralegals may assist in gathering, preparing, and filing legal documents; petitioning for political asylum for clients, or preparing paperwork to prevent deportation.

Fluency in different languages is a plus for this type of work, as the immigration law firm may value multilingual employees and depend on their talents.

If you enjoy making a positive difference or like fast-paced work, immigration law may be a good career option for you.

8. Medical / Healthcare

Healthcare paralegals are needed as insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical companies all require some form of legal departments.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are one reason for this need for paralegals. Lawsuits against a hospital or facility can take three to five years to culminate, and many of these cases are settled out of court.

There can be hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, on the line in these cases, so healthcare paralegals are a necessity. Insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies may also be incentivized to minimize litigation.

Even outside of litigation or malpractice cases, paralegals can stay busy at a hospital reviewing contracts with healthcare unions, hospital vendors, and overseeing HIPPA regulation and other compliance policies.

Challenges for California Employers Looking for Paralegals

A 2020 survey of 509 California employers by the Employment Development Department (EDD) showed that the biggest challenge is finding qualified applicants with experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements.

Many also say that even when looking for applicants without prior paralegal experience, many do not meet their minimum hiring requirements.

There is still a large ongoing opportunity for trained paralegals who are ready to step into a position, especially in high demand states like California.

The Paralegal Associate of Arts Degree program at Campus, formerly known as MTI College, uses a curriculum approved by the American Bar Association and is staffed by Campus' seasoned paralegal faculty.

After graduation, you will become valuable members of the legal services field, providing solid, knowledgeable support in civil, criminal and regulatory areas of the law.

Our Paralegal Studies graduates are highly qualified and able to effectively perform substantive and procedural legal tasks under the supervision of licensed attorneys.

Next, what does the job market look like for paralegals in California and the rest of the country?

How Much Can I Earn as a Paralegal in My Local Market?

You may be wondering what the paralegal job market looks like in California compared to the rest of the United States.

Below are some statistics on specific areas where paralegals are in demand, and how much paralegals earn on average in those areas.

Note: This information is from May 2020 via the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top 10 States by Paralegal Jobs

StateNumber of JobsEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Average Salary
New York27,5403.17$30.06$62,530
North Carolina10,9402.551$23.82$49,540

States with Highest Average Pay for Paralegals

StateNumber of Paralegal JobsEmployment per 1000 JobsMean Average Annual Salary Average Hourly Wage
District of Columbia5,8708.55$83,330$40.06
New York27,5403.17$62,530$30.06

California Regions – Paralegal Employment Stats

Santa Barbara-Santa Maria, CA3001.629$63,260$30.41

California Region or Metro AreaParalegal EmploymentEmployment per 1000 jobsAnnual Mean Average SalaryHourly Mean Average Wage
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA15,2502.619$63,390$30.48
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA6,3902.742$75,820$36.45
San Diego-Carslbad, CA2,6201.873$68,130$32.76
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA1,8401.897$58,180$27.97
Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, CA1,7301.159$61,180$29.41
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,5301.390$90,280$43.40
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA5201.742$58,230$28.00
Fresno, CA6401.709$50,210$24.14
Bakersfield, CA3601.176$60,510$29.09
Santa Rosa, CA3001.526$75,390$36.24
Modesto, CA2501.396$42,650$20.51
Salinas, CA2301.352$52,880$25.42
Chico, CA2303.174$42,950$20.65
Stockton-Lodi, CA2100.835$64,470$31.00
Visalia-Porterville, CA1400.925$50,630$24.34
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA1200.873$63,320$30.44
North Coast region of California, non-metropolitan1000.971$58,300$28.03
North Valley-North Mountain Region of California, non-metropolitan800.850$49,710$23.90
Merced, CA400.52$56,930$27.37
Napa, CA300.444$93,110$44.76
Hanford-Corcoran, CA300.806$41,300$19.86
Redding, CANot reportedNot reported$57,930$27.85
Eastern Sierra- Mother Lode region of California, non-metropolitanNot reportedNot reported$54,750$26.32

Take The First Steps Towards Becoming a Paralegal

The A.A. Online Paralegal Studies program at Campus is open for enrollment.

This fully online program will let you fast track your education to becoming a paralegal. For more details, or to talk directly to our friendly Admissions department, call (916) 339-1500 or fill our contact form today. A representative from Campus will be in contact with you shortly afterwards.