Massachusetts Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
Our Massachusetts paralegal career guide is designed to help those interested in learning how to become a paralegal or legal assistant begin their careers. While there are no statewide standards or certifications required for paralegals in Massachusetts, many jobs in the field require an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies. On this page, you will find information on how to become a paralegal in Massachusetts, certification opportunities, Massachusetts career and salary outlook for paralegals in the state, and professional resources for the entry-level and beyond. Begin your journey to a paralegal career using the easy-to-use directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in Massachusetts
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in Massachusetts
Since there are no laws regulating paralegal certification in Massachusetts, paralegals may pursue a number of paths to becoming a paralegal professional. Most Massachusetts paralegals hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree that includes courses in law or paralegal studies and have on-the-job experience through internships or job shadowing opportunities. Voluntary certification through a national or state organization following graduation from a Massachusetts paralegal program can give paralegal candidates a competitive edge in the job market.
As paralegal jobs in Massachusetts continue to diversify and expand in professional scope, there are many opportunities for entry-level paralegals.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Although there are no mandated educational requirements for paralegals in Massachusetts, earning a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree from one of the paralegal schools in Massachusetts is strongly encouraged. Currently, there are six approved paralegal programs by the American Bar Association (ABA).1
2. Gain experience.
Through degree or certificate programs, paralegal candidates are typically offered invaluable on-the-job experience through internships or job shadowing opportunities. This type of real-world experience can help paralegals in their job searches, as previous experience can reduce training time for new hires.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Although obtaining certification through a national or state association is voluntary, doing so can demonstrate to potential employers a paralegal’s dedication and commitment to the profession.
Paralegal Certification in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, paralegals are classified as legal paraprofessionals and are permitted to perform substantive legal tasks under a supervising attorney. State law does not currently require Massachusetts paralegal certification to work as a paralegal. This allows firms to offer on-the-job training to new paralegals, though employers do tend to prefer candidates with some formal paralegal training such as that earned from a Massachusetts paralegal program.
Though there is no Massachusetts paralegal certification requirement, many paralegals choose to seek certification through a national organization such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), or the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS). All of these organizations offer voluntary certification programs including examinations designed to raise the national level of competency and professionalism in the paralegal occupation. These certification exams have various education and work experience prerequisites that should be consulted before applying. Prospective paralegals are also encouraged to seek guidance from the Massachusetts paralegal associations listed below. For more information on national certification options, take a look at our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Massachusetts Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Though many national corporations are expanding their internal legal departments to include a larger degree of paralegal labor, the majority of paralegals and legal assistants in the US continue to find employment at private law firms. With offices in major international cities and both US coasts, Ropes & Gray LLP is a prominent firm in Boston practicing in virtually every area of law. At Ropes & Gray, paralegals are vital components of case-level and client teams and interact closely with attorneys to provide the best possible client experience. Continuing education programs and opportunities for advancement make this firm a good starting point for paralegals interested in a large professional environment or interested in specializing in a specific field of law. Goodwin Procter LLP is another large firm with roots in Boston. Specializing in growing areas of law such as financial service, intellectual property, and technology law, Goodwin Procter may have promising opportunities for career-driven paralegals.
Corporate positions for paralegals are also available throughout Massachusetts and are concentrated in the Boston metropolitan area. Top corporate employers based in Massachusetts include Staples, Liberty Mutual Group, Raytheon, TJX Corp, and Biogen. These large companies may offer paralegal work through their in-house legal offices. Government agencies, insurance agencies, and other financial institutions and insurance groups throughout the state may also offer promising opportunities for recently certified paralegals seeking work experience in the paralegal field.
LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (Massachusetts or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in Massachusetts with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Harmon Law Offices, P.C.
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
- Ropes & Gray LLP
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
Massachusetts Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Massachusetts from 2018-20282
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 7,510 paralegals and legal assistants employed across Massachusetts.2 As law firms seek to reduce the cost of providing legal services, employment trends are expected to favor paralegal hiring over the coming years. The creation of these positions should diversify the professional opportunities available. Paralegals in Massachusetts have a positive job outlook, with a projected job growth rate of 9.7% between 2018 and 2028, slightly slower than the national growth expected for the profession, at 12%.2 Formal paralegal education, national certification, and paralegal internship experience will benefit paralegal candidates in the competition for desirable positions.
Large, urban-based law firms generally require the greatest degree of paralegal assistance, and the competition for qualified applicants means that these firms typically offer higher average paralegal salaries. The average Massachusetts paralegal salary was reported at $62,160 by the BLS in 2020, higher than the national average paralegal salary of $56,610.3
Prospective Massachusetts paralegals should note that the concentration of law firms and other firms relying on paralegal labor in Boston also can lead to more competitive salaries. For example, the average paralegal salary in the Boston metro area is $64,220, higher than the state average.3,4 As urban areas are expected to continue to follow the greater nationwide trend of paralegal job growth, this contributes to a positive salary outlook for Massachusetts paralegals throughout the next several years. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
Massachusetts Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed4||Average Annual Salary4|
Paralegal Associations in Massachusetts
These are volunteer organizations, typically with elected boards, that focus on professional development and networking for a specific geographical location and/or area of law.
- Central Massachusetts Paralegal Association (CMPA): Hosts year-round networking and professional development events for its members, emphasizing professional relationships between paralegals and the greater legal community throughout central Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts Paralegal Association (MPA): Promotes the paralegal profession in Massachusetts and all of New England with regular meetings, professional seminars, and a members-only job board.
- Western Massachusetts Paralegal Association (WMPA): Promotes professional development of its members and the entire paralegal profession in western Massachusetts through educational programs, networking events, and professional discounts.
- Massachusett Courts: Provides links to legal resources and court forms, as well as contact information for court officials for all courts within the state’s court system, and links to 17 trial court libraries throughout the state.
- New England Law Boston Law Library: This library allows access to its print collection, which includes resources on international, federal, and state law, for students, alumni, faculty, and staff as well as active attorneys who can present identification.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: Search for Massachusetts paralegal jobs on our jobs board.
1. American Bar Association Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm