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Michigan Paralegal Career Guide

This career guide includes Michigan paralegal salary and job outlook information, career resources, and answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Michigan. Start your journey to a paralegal career using the easy to navigate directory below.

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

Paralegal Careers

The general entry-level requirement for paralegals in Michigan is completion of an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies. Though corporate legal departments and government agencies frequently post paralegal jobs in Michigan, private law firms are the primary employers of paralegals in the state. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone PLC is an international firm based in Detroit that practices in several areas of law. Paralegals with some work experience may find good opportunities at Miller Canfield, which has a reputation for employee satisfaction. Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn is another leading business law firm based in Michigan that provides legal services in a wide variety of industries. Large firms such as these tend to form specialized groups within legal fields with dedicated paralegals, which may be ideal for aspiring paralegals wishing to focus on a specific area of law.

For those seeking a corporate working environment, many Fortune 500 companies are based out of Michigan including General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Dow Chemical Company, and Kellogg’s. Smaller companies are also in need of paralegal support and may be good starting points for recently certified legal assistants and paralegals. Government agencies are another source of paralegal jobs in Michigan that may be of particular interest for recently qualified professionals looking for a more general introduction into paralegal work.

Job Outlook in Michigan

Projected Job Growth

15.5%

Paralegals in Michigan from 2010-20201

As organizations seek to reduce the cost of legal services, a national increase in paralegal and legal assistant employment is expected, leading to more positions as well as diversification in the types of tasks allotted to paralegal support staff. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 17% employment growth for legal assistants and paralegals from 2012 to 2022.2 The job outlook for Michigan paralegals compares favorably to the national outlook as the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget has projected a 15.5% job growth rate for paralegals and legal assistants in the state from 2010 to 2020.1 This projected growth is already being demonstrated in the employment numbers; in May 2011 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,760 paralegals and legal assistants in Michigan, which had grown to 5,340 by May of 2014.3

Michigan Paralegal Salary Outlook

The average paralegal salary in Michigan was $47,850 as of May 2014.4 This annual wage is close to the national median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $51,840.3 As the cost of living in Michigan is lower than in many states, the lower average wage may still be viewed as competitive. With projected job growth trends, the Michigan paralegal salary outlook is favorable. Prospective paralegals should note that urban areas with higher populations may offer more competitive salaries. For example, paralegals in Detroit earn an average annual salary of $57,830, far higher than the average paralegal salary in Michigan.4 In addition, candidates may position themselves to negotiate for higher salaries by completing formal training from paralegal programs in Michigan, national certification, and legal work experience.

Michigan Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area

An overview of Michigan paralegal salary by metro area:

Metro AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Ann Arbor160$48,950
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn780$57,830
Grand Rapids-Wyoming420$48,940
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills2,900$47,020

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

Paralegal Certification in Michigan

In Michigan, paralegals are defined as paraprofessionals and are permitted to perform select tasks under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Michigan does not enforce any minimum training or education requirements for paralegals, which allows for on-the-job training. However, most employers prefer paralegal candidates who have formal training. Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has formally approved 13 Michigan paralegal programs. Michigan paralegal programs that are not ABA-approved may also be sufficient preparation for a paralegal career, though some employers and associations prefer candidates from ABA-approved programs. Prospective paralegals are advised to select a program based upon their prior educational experience and career goals.

Michigan Certification

Though Michigan paralegal certification is not required to work as a paralegal, voluntary certification is held as a desired credential by many employers. Upon earning a degree or certificate from one of the paralegal programs in Michigan, individuals are strongly advised to seek certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Both organizations offer optional certification examinations that are highly respected within the legal community. For more information about how to become a paralegal in Michigan, be sure to read the section below and refer to your local Michigan paralegal associations.

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

Since there are no statewide requirements for Michigan paralegal certification, individuals may take a number of different paths to become a paralegal. The most common route to a paralegal career is completing an education paired with experience, which may come from in-school internships or through on-the-job training as a legal assistant or entry-level paralegal. Completing a degree or certificate program through one of the many paralegal schools in Michigan can help candidates build competitive credentials.

Though paralegal certification is not mandatory, voluntary certification can give paralegals a competitive edge when applying for Michigan paralegal jobs. Check out our jobs board to view the typical education and experience requirements posted by organizations hiring paralegals in Michigan. For additional information about how to become a paralegal, including further information on national certification, visit the Paralegal411 guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.

Paralegal Resources

Successful paralegals benefit the firms for which they work and can make a positive difference for their firms’ clients. A large part of a paralegal’s success is built on having the right resources when and where they are required. The following resources for Michigan paralegals can help you gain a competitive edge in your career.

Michigan Paralegal Career Books

  • Michigan Court Rules – By Michigan Legal Publishing Ltd., this book covers court rules for civil, criminal, probate, and appellate procedures, making it an essential desk reference for paralegals. Annual updates of this handy guide help keep paralegals and legal professionals up-to-date in their understanding of court rules.
  • Michigan Legal Research – Now in its second edition, this guide to legal research focuses on the specifics of Michigan law. Through its promotion of efficient legal research strategies and its discussions of major sources of law and case-finding tools, this reference can help paralegals become more effective in their day-to-day work.
  • Davenport’s Michigan Wills and Estate Planning Legal Forms – Paralegals whose work involves family law, estate planning, probate, and related practice areas will find this guidebook of Michigan-specific estate planning forms helpful. The easy to use forms included in this book can be modified as necessary to clients’ needs during initial drafting, saving paralegals valuable time.
  • The Michigan Notary Law Primer – Paralegals in Michigan are often called upon to perform notary acts, and as such must have a thorough understanding of notary law. This reference covers rules and guidelines in general practice as well as in practice specific to notary law in Michigan. Included are legal wordings for notary acts, oaths, and affirmations, procedures for keeping a notarial journal, and much more.
  • Federal Rules of Evidence: 2014 Edition – This handy pocket guide is an easy-to-use reference for paralegals whose work involves the federal courts. Chapters are divided according to the Federal Rules of Evidence articles and a chapter on miscellaneous rules is included.

Paralegal Job Search Websites for Michigan

Michigan Court Info

  • Courts.Michigan.Gov – The state of Michigan has unified its various court websites under one site, known as the Michigan One Court of Justice. From this portal, visitors can access court filing systems, research cases and opinions, and see court and legal news of interest. Court forms, published law, and other reference materials are also available on this site.

Law Libraries in Michigan

  • John F. Schaefer Law Library at Michigan State University – On the Michigan State University campus in Lansing, the John F. Schaefer Law Library welcomes visitors from the legal professions and the general public. The library hosts extensive collections of law materials and provides access to electronic sources for legal research.
  • State Law Library of Michigan – Located in Lansing, the State Law Library of Michigan provides the general public with access to an extensive print collection as well as electronic subscription databases. The library is typically open from 10 AM to 5 PM local time Monday through Friday.
  • University of Michigan Law Library – Hosting a world-class collection of legal research materials, the University of Michigan Law Library is typically open until midnight during regular term hours. This library is a selective depository for US government publications as well as a depository for publications of the European Union, which contribute to its overall holdings of over 1 million volumes. Access to the collections is open to the public, though circulation for many volumes is restricted.

Paralegal Associations in Michigan

  • Grand Rapids Bar Association – The Grand Rapids Bar Association welcomes members from all sections of the legal professions, including paralegals and legal assistants. Member benefits include extensive networking opportunities, regular professional development and continuing education meetings, and much more. Membership is $85 for legal assistants and $25 for students. The fee for the first year of membership is waived for all new members.
  • Great Lakes Paralegal Association – Established in 2013 to fulfill the need for a dedicated paralegal association in Michigan, the Great Lakes Paralegal Association seeks to promote strong ethics and professional attainment for paralegals. The association is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Annual member dues are $40 for active members and $15 for students.

References:
1. Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget: https://www.michigan.gov/budget
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,
Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.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/