Louisiana Paralegal Career Guide
Our Louisiana paralegal career guide is your starting point for becoming a paralegal or legal assistant. This guide is designed to answer your questions about how to become a paralegal in Louisiana with paralegal salary information, job outlook, career resources, and more. Begin researching your paralegal career with the easy-to-use directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Louisiana
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Louisiana
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Though corporate legal departments and government agencies rely on paralegal support, law firms continue to be the primary employers of paralegals and legal assistants across the nation. Large law firms often engage in a variety of practice areas and may have promising opportunities for paralegals wishing to focus their careers in a specific area of law or who are seeking a larger work environment. Phelps Dunbar LLP is a large Louisiana-based law firm with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge that specializes in business, litigation, insurance, and admiralty. The firm prefers to hire paralegals within practice areas to foster specialization and career growth. Adams and Reese LLP, with an office in New Orleans, is another large multidisciplinary law firm that provides legal counsel on the local, national, and international levels, requiring a large degree of paralegal support.
Individuals seeking a smaller or more generalized work environment may find promising Louisiana paralegal jobs at small to medium-sized local firms. For those seeking employment in a corporate setting, Louisiana is home to several Fortune 500 companies including CenturyLink, Entergy, and Shaw Group. Smaller retail companies, insurance companies, banks, and government agencies are also likely to have interesting positions for paralegals and legal assistants throughout the region.
Job Outlook in Louisiana
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Louisiana from 2016-20261
As of May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,440 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout Louisiana.2 To reduce the cost of providing legal services, law firms are expected to undergo a shift from attorney-based labor to paralegal and legal assistant labor. This shift is expected to drive a large-scale expansion of the profession resulting in more positions for paralegals nationwide in a variety of professional settings. The range of tasks allotted to paralegals and legal assistants is also expected to diversify as they adopt more significant roles in legal offices.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15% employment growth rate for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2016 to 2026.3 Louisiana is expected to see similar job growth for in-state paralegals of 18.1% over the same period.1 This translates to 720 new paralegal jobs added to the workforce from 2016 to 2026.1 Urban areas such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans are likely to produce the greatest number paralegal jobs in Louisiana, though suburban and rural law firms are also expected to employ more paralegals and legal assistants.
Louisiana Paralegal Salary Outlook
The average Louisiana paralegal salary is reported at $49,380.2 Though this is lower than the national average paralegal salary of $53,910, the cost of living in many areas of the state is lower than the national average.2 In addition, the average paralegal salary in Louisiana is higher in urban areas. New Orleans paralegals, for example, make an average salary of $53,830.2 Based on positive projected growth trends, Louisiana paralegals should continue to encounter more positive hiring and salary trends throughout the next decade.
Louisiana Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A quick look at paralegal salary in Louisiana by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in Louisiana
There are no state-level requirements for Louisiana paralegal certification. However, the state does mandate that paralegal and legal assistants operate under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Though some firms and corporations offer on-site training, the majority of employers prefer candidates with formal education, such as that earned from one of the numerous paralegal schools in Louisiana. Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved three Louisiana paralegal programs. Louisiana paralegal programs that do not hold ABA approval are also offered at many institutions and may provide adequate preparation for entry-level positions. In addition, there are national voluntary certification programs that can give Louisiana paralegals a career edge.
Although there are no mandated Louisiana paralegal certification requirements, the Louisiana State Paralegal Association does offer the Louisiana Certified Paralegal credential to qualified professionals. A Louisiana Certified Paralegal, or LCP, is a paralegal who has completed formal paralegal training or who has completed a college degree and earned experience working as a paralegal. Candidates must pass an exam, which is administered twice annually, to earn the Louisiana Certified Paralegal designation. You can learn more about this program through the Louisiana State Paralegal Association.
Upon graduation from one of the paralegal schools in Louisiana, prospective paralegals are also encouraged to seek national certification through organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Though national certification is voluntary it represents a professional standard of excellence. Please refer to each organization’s website for eligibility requirements and general information regarding certification. Prospective paralegals and legal assistants are also encouraged to consult with the Louisiana paralegal associations listed below.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Louisiana
Since Louisiana paralegal certification is voluntary, paralegals in the state may take a variety of career paths. Most paralegals land their first position through a combination of education and experience, which may include training at a Louisiana paralegal program, internships, and on-the-job training. Beginning as a legal document preparer or legal secretary can allow candidates to work their way up the career ladder.
Formal education, certification, and work experience will continue to benefit applicants for paralegal openings. You can see typical requirements for current Louisiana paralegal jobs on our jobs board. Browsing available jobs is a great way to plan for your desired career by earning the right credentials before you apply. You can also find more detailed information on how to become a paralegal, including additional information on national certification, with the Paralegal411 guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
The paralegal’s role is central to law firm operations, and paralegals are uniquely positioned to make a difference for their firms and for their firms’ clients. Success as a paralegal is often based on knowing where to find the right resources. The following career resources for Louisiana paralegals can help you get off to the right start.
Louisiana Paralegal Career Books
- Louisiana Legal Research – Legal research is one of the most important tasks that paralegals perform. This handbook for legal research with a specific focus on sources of law and research strategies in Louisiana is a great starting point for paralegals to learn the process. Its extensive discussions of print resources for Louisiana law are still relevant years after its original publication.
- Louisiana Legal Ethics: Standards and Commentary – Updated for 2015, this text helps paralegals understand legal ethics in practice from an ethical viewpoint. The text covers day-to-day questions grounded in ethics such as when to discard closed files, best practices for online information sharing, and much more. Also included are annotations referencing case law, American Bar Association guidelines, and the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct.
- Louisiana Law of Torts: A Precis – Paralegals are not required to understand law as deeply as attorneys, but a general understanding of legal fundamentals is a must for career advancement. This concise guide to the law of torts in Louisiana gives paralegals the major points of law along with the law’s history, with a specific focus on the state’s interpretations of legal processes where these differ from national norms.
- Louisiana Law of Property: A Precis – Part of the same series as the book above, this text gives legal professionals a basic understanding of the law of property in Louisiana. Main issues are explained in an easily digestible format, with a focus on “need-to-know” information.
- Louisiana Civil Law Dictionary – Legal interpretations of common words and phrases can differ from mainstream interpretations. This dictionary for terms in Louisiana civil law is especially helpful as the Louisiana Civil Code contains terms rarely found in other legal codes due to the state’s interesting multilingual history. The text also includes legal definitions for terms beyond the Louisiana Civil Code.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Louisiana
- Lafayette Bar Association – The LBA offers an employment portal that includes many Louisiana paralegal jobs, the majority of which are in the Lafayette area.
- Louisiana State Bar Association – The LSBA also maintains a jobs board that includes Louisiana paralegal jobs from across the state.
- Paralegal411 jobs board – You can find even more paralegal jobs in Louisiana on our jobs board.
Louisiana Court Info
- LASC.org – The Louisiana Supreme Court homepage provides links to court rules, programs, and news releases. Site visitors can also access the court’s docket as well as filing requirements, fees, and forms.
- Louisiana Courts of Appeal – The five circuit courts of appeal in Louisiana maintain separate websites that provide information on court decisions, schedules, and e-filing systems:
Law Libraries in Louisiana
- Law Library of Louisiana – The state law library of Louisiana is found in New Orleans. The library holds approximately 150,000 volumes with a focus on state law, though it also contains holdings for law in other states and the federal government. The library additionally maintains an online collection of helpful legal research guides.
- State Library of Louisiana – Located in Baton Rouge, the State Library of Louisiana is one of the largest libraries in the US, with over 11 million print and electronic volumes in its statewide lending network. Its catalogues contain many sources of law from the state to the international level. Lending privileges and access to electronic databases is available for all Louisiana citizens.
- Louisiana State University Law Library – Also in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana State University Law Library welcomes legal professionals and the general public. The library’s collections include over 850,000 volume equivalents and 109,000 volumes of court records. Though circulation outside the library is generally limited, visitors may use overhead scanners to create PDFs of the library’s print materials free of charge.
Paralegal Associations in Louisiana
- Baton Rouge Paralegal Association, Inc. – Since 1984 the Baton Rouge Paralegal Association has been promoting the paralegal profession and providing its members with professional development and networking opportunities. The organization hosts a monthly luncheon in addition to a full calendar of events. Annual dues are $65 for voting members, $50 for associate members, and $40 for student members.
- Lafayette Paralegal Association, Inc. – Serving paralegals in the greater Lafayette metropolitan area, the Lafayette Paralegal Association was founded in 1984 to promote and enhance the paralegal profession. The association hosts regular socials, education luncheons, and other professionally-oriented events. Annual dues are $35 for active, associate, and student members.
- Louisiana State Paralegal Association – The Louisiana State Paralegal Association serves paralegals statewide and is the founding and administrating organization for the Louisiana Certified Paralegal certification. The organization is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA) and offers its members access to regular networking opportunities, continuing education, and much more. Membership categories include voting member and associate/student member.
- New Orleans Paralegal Association – An affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the New Orleans Paralegal Association holds monthly meetings for its membership as well as periodic education seminars and socials. Members also have access to a jobs bank, pro bono opportunities, and more. Annual dues are $65 for voting members, $60 for associate members, and $45 for student members.
1. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-5
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Louisiana: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_la.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/