New Jersey Paralegal Career Guide
Welcome to our guide to starting a career as a paralegal. On this page, you will find New Jersey paralegal salary and job outlook data, career resources, and in-depth information on how to become a paralegal in New Jersey. The easy-to-navigate directory below will help you find the sections most relevant to your career planning.
Table of Contents
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in New Jersey
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey
- Career Advice from Experienced Paralegals
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Most New Jersey paralegals possess a degree or certificate from a formal paralegal program. Prospective paralegals seeking specialization in a particular area of law should consider large private law firms, which tend to offer a variety of legal services and dedicate paralegals to specialized legal departments. Large firms based in New Jersey include McCarter & English, LLP and McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP. Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP, headquartered in New Jersey, is a top national firm. Additionally, many large national firms with in-house legal departments have offices New Jersey and may have good opportunities for aspiring paralegals and legal assistants. Job seekers may find New Jersey paralegal jobs in government and non-profit organizations.
Job Outlook in New Jersey
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in New Jersey from 2016-20261
As of May 2017, there were 8,060 paralegals and legal assistants working in New Jersey, placing the state among the top states for paralegal employment by the total number of working professionals.2 As employers seek to optimize the cost of providing legal services, law firms are expected to increase support positions and continue to diversify the tasks allocated to paralegals and legal assistants. These trends support the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national occupational growth projection of 15% from 2016 to 2026 for paralegals and legal assistants.3 Growth rates for New Jersey paralegal jobs are expected to be similar, at 15.7% between 2016 and 2026.1
New Jersey Paralegal Salary Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average New Jersey paralegal salary as $61,650, well above the national average annual paralegal wage of $53,910.2 Paralegal salary in New Jersey can vary based on a paralegal’s education and experience, the size and location of the hiring organization, and various other factors. For example, the average paralegal salary of $66,500 in the Newark metro district is significantly higher than the state average.4 Overall, the relatively high average wage and the projected growth for the paralegal profession indicate a positive outlook for paralegal salary in New Jersey.
New Jersey Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
An overview of New Jersey paralegal salary by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Newark Metropolitan Division||3,230||$66,500|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in New Jersey
At the state level, New Jersey has no formal laws regulating education or certification requirements for paralegals. However, as the role of paralegals has expanded, most employers prefer paralegals who have formal education, legal experience, and voluntary certification. There is a variety of paralegal degree programs in New Jersey, ranging from associate degrees and professional certificates to bachelor’s and graduate degrees. Some employers may prefer American Bar Association (ABA)-approved programs; there are currently 12 ABA-approved paralegal programs in New Jersey. Other employers may place a heavier emphasis on experience and skills than on education, or may not require candidates to have graduated from an ABA-approved program.
New Jersey Certification
Though there is no statewide requirement for New Jersey paralegal certification, there are voluntary certification programs that can benefit paralegal candidates. Two of the best known voluntary credentials are offered through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The certification examinations offered by these organizations have educational requirements that may be fulfilled by a combination of general education, paralegal education, and experience in the paralegal field. Voluntary certification is highly recommended as these national credentials have been accepted as the professional standard of excellence for the paralegal and legal assistant professions; as such, “certified paralegals” generally have a competitive edge while job-seeking and receive higher salaries once employed. Aspiring paralegals may also wish to consider pursuing New Jersey Certified Paralegal credentials from the South Jersey Paralegal Association.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey
New Jersey paralegals can take several paths to a successful career in the legal field. The majority of paralegals possess some combination of education and experience, which may include activities such as internships, on-the-job training, and voluntary New Jersey paralegal certification. Paralegals and legal assistants typically complete one of the many paralegal programs in New Jersey and possess a certificate or college degree. Paralegals may also start their careers working as legal assistants, document preparers, or in related occupations to build experience prior to moving into a paralegal role. Professional paralegal certification at the state or national level is a great way to become more competitive in the job market and can lead to higher salaries. To learn what New Jersey paralegal jobs typically require, take a look at the Paralegal411 jobs board. You can also learn more about how to become a paralegal with our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Career Advice from Experienced Paralegals
The qualified paralegal is indispensable to the legal team for which he or she works. Success as a paralegal is built in part on having the right resources available when they are needed. The following resources for paralegals can help you become better prepared for paralegal jobs in New Jersey.
New Jersey Paralegal Career Books
- The Litigation Paralegal: A Systems Approach – Litigation attorneys rely heavily on paralegal support, and those who wish to pursue paralegal specialties likely to involve litigation will find this book’s systemization of litigation paralegal tasks helpful. Organized in chronological order based on the typical litigation procedure, this book guides paralegals through document drafting, using technology in litigation practice, and rules compliance.
- New Jersey Notary Law Primer – Paralegals are frequently asked to fill the role of notary and must therefore know notary laws and best practices. This book covers the basics of notarial acts, notary ethics, and New Jersey rules and statutes governing notary activities. Helpful as a training guide or for refreshers on points of conduct, this guide should be part of every New Jersey paralegal’s library.
- New Jersey Family Law Handbook: A Reference Guide to New Jersey Case Law and Statutes – Paralegals whose work involves family law will find this book invaluable as a day-to-day reference as well as a starting point for less common aspects of legal research in family law. The New Jersey Family Law Handbook covers the basic theory and practice of state family law as well as family law within the framework of the federal Constitution.
- New Jersey Foreclosure Law & Practice – Written for legal professionals representing foreclosure cases from either the lender or the borrower sides, this practical book serves as a starting point for legal research and strategy in the foreclosure law arena. Released in various e-formats for searchability and supplemented by comprehensive indexing, the book also includes a library of forms that will help paralegals draft communications and court filings.
- New Jersey Insurance Law – As legal departments at major insurers are large employers of paralegals, familiarity or specialization with New Jersey insurance law can be helpful in the paralegal job search. This book covers state insurance law as it applies to different types of policies, coverages, and requirements. Also included are tips for legal research specific to New Jersey insurance law.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for New Jersey
- The New Jersey Courts Jobs Board – The New Jersey Courts provides a regularly updated that includes paralegal and legal support jobs and internships throughout the state.
- The Paralegal Association of New Jersey Jobs Board – Gives access to posted jobs, but requires membership in the association.
- Parlaegal411 Jobs Board – You can find even more New Jersey paralegal jobs on our jobs board.
New Jersey Court Info
- Judiciary.State.NJ.us – The home portal for the New Jersey Courts provides links to all courts operating in the state, online resources and forms, and news and publications of interest to New Jersey legal professionals. Paralegals will also find this website’s case and opinion search functions helpful for legal research. Paralegals and attorneys may also access court e-filing systems from this site.
- NJd.USCourts.gov. – The website for the United States District Court for the district of New Jersey provides updated court and case information for legal professionals and the public. The website also collects the most up-to-date forms for civil and criminal actions handled by the District Court.
Law Libraries in New Jersey
- New Jersey State Library Law Library – The law library at the New Jersey State Library is one of the largest in the state, with a comprehensive collection covering all aspects of law from the state to the federal level. The collection includes superseded volumes of New Jersey laws and statutes to allow referencing to earlier texts. This library is located in Trenton and is open to members of the public during regular business hours.
- Rutgers University Law Library – The Rutgers University Law Library in Newark hosts over 790,000 volumes in hard copy, electronic copy, and microform. Legal professionals and members of the public are permitted access to the collections, subject to restrictions during the school year. The Rutgers University Law Library also hosts the online New Jersey Digital Legal Library
Paralegal Associations in New Jersey
- The Paralegal Association of New Jersey – The Paralegal Association of New Jersey was founded in 1982 to provide professional development and networking for paralegals and legal assistants. The organization is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Annual dues are $50 for regular members and $30 for associate members.
- South Jersey Paralegal Association – The South Jersey Paralegal Association provides networking, continuing legal education, and mentoring opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants in southern New Jersey. An affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the association offers a voluntary New Jersey Certified Paralegal Program to help members build their credentials. Regular membership categories include voting, associate, and student.
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, New Jersey: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nj.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/