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Massachusetts Paralegal Career Guide

Our career guide is designed to help those interested in learning how to become a paralegal in Massachusetts begin their careers in the legal field. On this page, you will find information on paralegal salary in Massachusetts, career outlooks for paralegals in the state, and professional resources for the entry level and beyond. Begin your journey to a paralegal career using the directory below.

Table of Contents
Paralegal Careers
Job Outlook in Massachusetts
Salary Outlook
Salary by Metro Area
Paralegal Certification
Certification in Massachusetts
Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Massachusetts
Additional Paralegal Resources
Massachusetts Paralegal Career Books
Paralegal Job Search Websites
Massachusetts State Court Info
Law Libraries in Massachusetts
Paralegal Associations in Massachusetts

Paralegal Careers

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 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. Ranked within the top 50 wealthiest American law firms, Goodwin Procter LLP is another dominant 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, though are concentrated in the Boston metropolitan area. Top corporate employers based in Massachusetts include Staples, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Raytheon, TJX Corp, and Biogen. 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.

Job Outlook in Massachusetts

Projected Job Growth

18%

Paralegals in Massachusetts from 2012-20221

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. Nationally, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 17% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants from 2012 to 2022.2 According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, paralegals in Massachusetts have a slightly more positive job outlook with a projected job growth rate of 18% from 2012 to 2022.1 Paralegal positions are strongly concentrated in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metro area, which ranks in the top 10 metros in the US for highest employment levels of paralegals.4 Formal paralegal education, national certification, and paralegal internship experience will benefit paralegal candidates in the competition for desirable positions.

Massachusetts Paralegal Salary Outlook

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. In May 2014, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 6,700 paralegals and legal assistants employed across Massachusetts.3 The average Massachusetts paralegal salary was reported at $54,540, considerably higher than the May 2012 average of $52,020.3 These averages are also higher than the national average paralegal salary of $51,840.4

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. The average paralegal salary in the Boston metro area is $55,590, slightly higher than the state average.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.

Massachusetts Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area

A look at paralegal salary in Massachusetts by metro area:

Metro AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy4,390$55,590
Framingham300$52,190
Providence-Fall River-Warwick1,240$49,840
Springfield510$46,580
Worcester370$50,670

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.

Paralegal Certification in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, paralegals are classified as legal paraprofessionals and are permitted to perform substantive legal tasks under a supervising attorney. However, 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.

Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved six paralegal programs in Massachusetts. Paralegal programs in Massachusetts typically encompass general education courses, technical skills courses, and substantive legal courses. There are other paralegal schools in Massachusetts that do not hold ABA approval which may be accepted by employers as sufficient preparation for entry-level paralegal positions. You can learn more about available programs on our paralegal schools in Massachusetts page.

Massachusetts Certification

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 National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), or the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS). All of these organizations offer voluntary certification programs designed to raise the national level of competency and professionalism in the paralegal occupation. These certification examinations have various education and work experience prerequisites that should be consulted before applying. You can form a better understanding of the qualifications that paralegal jobs in Massachusetts typically require on the Paralegal411 jobs board. Prospective paralegals are also encouraged to seek guidance from the Massachusetts paralegal associations listed below.

Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Massachusetts

Since there are no laws regulating paralegal certification in Massachusetts, paralegals may pursue a number of career paths. Most Massachusetts paralegals hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree that includes courses in law or paralegal studies. Voluntary certification through a national organization following graduation from a Massachusetts paralegal program is also a smart career move.

As paralegal jobs in Massachusetts continue to diversify and expand in professional scope, there are many opportunities for entry-level paralegals. The Paralegal411 jobs board includes many Massachusetts paralegal jobs. To learn more about how to become a paralegal in Massachusetts, including additional information about national certification, read our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.

Paralegal Resources

Paralegals play an integral part in the success of their firms and can make a difference for their firms’ clients. One driver of success as a paralegal is having the right resources when they are needed. The following resources for Massachusetts paralegals can help you become more competitive in your career.

Massachusetts Paralegal Career Books

  • Legal Research and Writing for Paralegals – This primer provides a helpful overview of legal research processes and legal writing with a specific focus on the duties of an entry-level paralegal. The text covers the basics of using electronic resources for research, proper citation, and validation of authority. Throughout the text, illustrations and exercises guide paralegals to more efficient understanding and practice.
  • Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals – Written by Marlene A. Maerowitz and Thomas A. Mauet and in its eighth edition, Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals covers the fundamentals of the litigation process as it impacts the paralegal’s work. The book also includes in-depth coverage of the mediation process and is regularly updated according to changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The included glossaries, checklists, and other organizational tools are helpful continuing references for all paralegals.
  • Paralegal Ethics – Ethics are an important consideration for all legal professionals. This overview of ethics from the paralegal perspective helps paralegals understand ethical frameworks, issues, and possible resolutions in a professional manner. Included are examinations of the ethical rules and guidelines from the American Bar Association, National Association of Legal Assistants, and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
  • Family Law for Paralegals – Paralegals working in family law practices will find this an essential reference for day-to-day work. Now in its fifth edition, Family Law for Paralegals examines the historical foundations of family law up through contemporary family law and issues. Best practices for legal writing, analysis, and research in the context of family law are also covered.
  • Massachusetts Real Estate: Practice and Law – Though written from the real estate agency perspective, this quick reference is helpful for paralegals as it covers the need-to-know information about real estate law in Massachusetts. Chapters on forms of ownership, legal descriptions, contracts, transfer of title, and more give paralegals an efficient way to research substantive issues in Massachusetts real estate law. Also included are chapters on appraisal, fair housing, and other common concerns.
  • Massachusetts Corporation Law & Practice – This guidebook to business corporation law in Massachusetts will help paralegals understand current statutes and legislative history while providing a foundation for research in case law. The book also explores issues in and laws covering transactions such as mergers, tender offers, and similar business actions.

Paralegal Job Search Websites for Massachusetts

Massachusetts Court Info

  • Mass.gov/Courts/ – All courts within the Massachusetts Court System are accessible from this main portal. Here site visitors can find links to legal resources, court forms and e-filing, and much more. Also included are links to court pages at all levels as well as links to contact court officials.

Law Libraries in Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries – The Massachusetts Trial Courts maintain 17 libraries located across the state. From this page users can access location information for each of the libraries as well as search the state’s electronic legal resources. Library cards for circulation privileges on print materials and electronic database access are free to all Massachusetts residents.
  • New England Law Library – Housed within the New England School of Law in Boston, this library allows access to its print collection for legal professionals who have appropriate identification. Access to the collections is restricted to university-affiliated users during reading and exam periods. The collection includes a broad range of titles in international, federal, and state law.

Paralegal Associations in Massachusetts

  • Central Massachusetts Paralegal Association – Founded in 1988, the Central Massachusetts Paralegal Association holds year-round networking and professional development events for its membership. The association emphasizes professional relations between paralegals and the greater legal community. Annual dues are $65 for voting members, $55 for affiliate members, and $25 for student members.
  • Massachusetts Paralegal Association – The Massachusetts Paralegal Association has been promoting the paralegal profession since 1975. With approximately 500 members, it is one of the largest paralegal associations in New England. Members receive access to regular meetings, professional seminars, and a members-only jobs board. Annual dues are $75 for voting members, $60 for associate members, and $40 for student members.
  • Western Massachusetts Paralegal Association, Inc. – The Western Massachusetts Paralegal Association has been active since 1988. Its mission is to promote the professional development of its members and the paralegal profession as a whole. Member benefits include educational programs, professional discounts, and more. Annual dues are $65 for regular and associate members and $35 for students.

References:
1. Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development: https://www.mass.gov/massachusetts-occupational-and-industry-projections
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants : https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,
Massachusetts: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ma.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
5. American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/