Missouri Paralegal Career Guide
This guide is a comprehensive resource to help you learn how to become a paralegal in Missouri. Here you will find up-to-date information on Missouri paralegal salary, career outlook, and resources designed to help you launch your career in the legal field. Find the answers to your questions about how to become a paralegal in Missouri with the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Missouri
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Missouri
- Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Though paralegal positions can be found in corporations, banks, and government agencies, law firms continue to be the primary employers of paralegal labor nationwide. Missouri contains several large metropolitan areas including St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield, all of which host large law offices. Bryan Cave LLP is a large, international law firm that practices in virtually every area of law with offices in Jefferson City, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Bryan Cave is a top-ranked firm and has continued to build a strong reputation for professional excellence with competitive employee benefits. This firm may have promising opportunities for paralegals interested in specializing in a specific area of law and is accessible with several offices throughout the state. Husch Blackwell LLP is a litigation and business law firm based in St. Louis with a reputation for its positive, team-oriented environment and good employee relations.
Smaller firms throughout the state may also hold good opportunities for paralegals interested in a more personal introduction to the legal world. Corporate positions for paralegals and legal assistants are also available throughout the state at large companies such as Express Scripts Holding, Emerson Electric, Reinsurance Group of America, and Centene. Government agencies in Missouri may have positions available for entry-level candidates interested in gaining work experience.
Job Outlook in Missouri
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Missouri from 2016-20261
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,490 paralegals and legal assistants working in Missouri.2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% employment growth nationally for paralegals and legal assistants from 2016 to 2026.3 The job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants in Missouri is similarly positive, with a projected job growth rate for paralegals and legal assistants in the state of 16.1% from 2016 to 2026, slightly outpacing the US average.1,3 This positive growth trend is reflective of trends to minimize the cost of legal services by replacing some attorney labor with paralegal labor.
Corporations are also expected to combat rising legal costs with a heavier reliance on internal legal departments and an increase in corporate paralegal positions. Overall, urban areas such as Kansas City, Jefferson City, Springfield and St. Louis are likely to produce the largest number of paralegals job opportunities in law firms, corporations, and government agencies.
Missouri Paralegal Salary Outlook
The average paralegal salary in Missouri is $52,340 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is comparable to the national average wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $53,910.2 This is a dramatic increase in average salaries in the state, as in 2013 the average Missouri paralegal salary was $31,303.2 With the projected positive growth trends and general expansion of the profession, recently graduated and studying paralegals should enter a favorable hiring environment.
Missouri Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
An overview of Missouri paralegal salary by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|St. Louis MO-IL||2,490||$53,060|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in Missouri
Missouri state law considers paralegals paraprofessionals who may perform legal tasks under the direct supervision of a qualified attorney and does not require Missouri paralegal certification. However, many employers do prefer candidates with some formal paralegal education from paralegal schools in Missouri or another state. Currently, the American Bar Association has formally approved two of these paralegal degree programs, though numerous others are offered.
Formal certification from the ABA indicates that the program meets or exceeds the standard rigor and content endorsed by the ABA. Upon completion of a Missouri paralegal program, prospective paralegals are encouraged to seek voluntary certification with a national paralegal association such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The certification examinations offered by these organizations are not mandated by state law but reflect a high degree of professional attainment within the paralegal field.
Though several regulations have been proposed, the state has not issued any requirements for paralegal certification in Missouri. The Missouri Bar Association has published a paper, “Practicing with Paralegals,” that encourages formal education for paralegals and advises firms to hire paralegals and legal assistants with at least an associate’s degree or 60-credit hour paralegal certificate. You can find out more about paralegal programs in Missouri on our Missouri paralegal schools page. Voluntary certification from NALA, the NFPA, or a similar national organization following graduation from a paralegal preparation program is highly recommended and can make candidates for paralegal jobs in Missouri more competitive. For more information on national paralegal certification, read our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Missouri
Since there are no state-level requirements for Missouri paralegal certification, paralegals and legal assistants may follow a number of career paths. Most entry-level paralegals have at least an associate’s degree, which commonly includes courses in legal studies. The programs offered at paralegal schools in Missouri often include experiential education components, such as internships, that are helpful career preparation and can make candidates stand out from the crowd. You can view typical education and experience requirements for Missouri paralegal jobs on our jobs board. For even more information regarding paralegal education and employment please refer to the Missouri paralegal associations listed below.
Career Advice from Experienced Paralegals
The role of the paralegal is to support the success of the firms in which he or she works. One way this is accomplished is by having the right resources at the right time. These resources can help beginning and experienced paralegals alike advance their careers and become more competitive job applicants.
Missouri Paralegal Career Books
- Missouri Legal Research – This handbook for Missouri-specific legal research covers fundamental strategies and processes for accessing case law from primary and secondary sources. Written for entry-level professionals and students, the book includes easy-to-follow process outlines as well as free electronic legal resource suggestions. The text also covers research in federal law.
- The Missouri Notary Law Primer – Paralegals are frequently asked to function as notaries. This guide to notary law in Missouri includes overviews of best practices along with helpful practice tips to assist notaries in performing routine and nonroutine notary acts. The Missouri Notary Law Primer is regularly updated and is now in its 11th edition.
- Concise Guide to Paralegal Ethics – Written by Therese A. Cannon, a widely respected leader in legal education, this text serves as an introduction to and a continuing refresher on paralegal ethics in practice and in theory. The text is organized around ethics in major areas of legal practice and includes appendices of ethical codes. The text also includes a full discussion of the ABA Model Rules and is available in print and e-book formats.
- Contracts for Paralegals: Legal Principles and Practical Applications – Paralegals in virtually all areas of practice should have a thorough understanding of the basics of contract law, as contracts are used in all types of legal transactions. This accessible text helps paralegals learn what they need to know about contract law by focusing on key concepts.
- Missouri Corporation Law & Practice – Authored by Charles Hansen, Of Counsel to and previous partner of Bryan Cave LLP, Missouri Corporation Law & Practice is essential for paralegals working in the sphere of corporate law. Now in its 10th edition, this text includes analysis of the General and Business Corporation Law of Missouri through the 2013 amendments, recent decisional law, and the new Business Judgment Rule, as well as other critical aspects of Missouri corporation law.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Missouri
- Missouri Paralegal Association – Hosts a members-only jobs board that includes paralegal jobs in Missouri.
- Paralegal411 jobs board – To find even more Missouri paralegal jobs, you can visit our jobs board.
Missouri Court Info
- Courts.MO.gov – The home portal for all courts in Missouri, Courts.MO.gov includes links to legal resources, news and publications, and e-filing systems. Visitors can also view court dockets, rules and forms, and access case search databases.
Law Libraries in Missouri
- Missouri Supreme Court Library – The Missouri Supreme Court’s collection of over 110,000 volumes is open to legal professionals and the general public during regular business hours. The library is located in Jefferson City and its focus is on Missouri state law, though the library holds titles from other areas of law and is a select government depository for federal publications. The library also provides on-site access to legal research databases.
- University of Missouri Law Library – Located on the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus, this law library is open to professionals and the greater university community for legal research purposes. The library’s collections include print and electronic resources covering sources of law from the local to the international levels.
- University of Missouri-Kansas City Leon E. Bloch Law Library – The Leon E. Bloch Law Library, located in Kansas City, welcomes guests needing to perform legal research, though access priority is given to University-affiliated students and faculty. Bar members may apply for circulation privileges and after-hours access to the library facilities.
Paralegal Associations in Missouri
- Kansas City Paralegal Association – Serving the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, the Kansas City Paralegal Association works to develop the paralegal profession through engagement and awareness and the promotion of continuing legal education. The association hosts regular meetings and events that allow members to network and learn. Annual dues are $45 for voting members, $40 for affiliate members, and $20 for student members.
- Missouri Paralegal Association – Founded in 1987, the Missouri Paralegal Association is a statewide, membership-based organization and a member association of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The organization’s mission is to serve Missouri paralegals and advance the paralegal profession at large. Annual dues are $70 for affiliate members, $40 for associate members, and $25 for students.
- St. Louis Paralegal Association – An affiliate of the National Association of Paralegals (NALA), the St. Louis Paralegal Association seeks to promote ethical and professional standards for paralegals. Member benefits include regular networking opportunities, community service participation, a jobs bank, and an internship/mentorship program. Annual dues are $60 for voting members, $50 for associate members, and $35 for student members.
1. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/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, Missouri: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/