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New York Paralegal Career and Salary Guide

There are no statewide mandatory certifications for paralegals in New York. However, most paralegal jobs in the state will require the completion of an associate degree or a certificate in paralegal studies. This career guide will help you as you launch a career as a paralegal in New York, with information on how to become one, salary and job outlook information, and career resources. Get started with the easy-to-navigate directory below.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Paralegal in New York
Paralegal Certification
Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Paralegal Resources

How to Become a Paralegal in New York

Since there are no regulatory requirements for paralegal certification in New York, there are many paths you can take to become a paralegal. The most common route is a combination of education and real-world experience, and many New York paralegals also choose to become certified paralegals to be more competitive for jobs.

1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.

Many paralegals in New York start by attending a New York paralegal school, which offer certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Earning a formal degree or certificate from one of these schools can help paralegals build their resumes and become more competitive candidates for employment. As of October 2021, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved 33 New York paralegal programs throughout the state.1

2. Gain experience.

Many paralegal programs will offer on-the-job experience which may include internships, job shadowing, or other experience in real-world legal environments. While on-the-job experience is not required by the state of New York, it is typically looked favorably upon by employers as it may reduce training time for new paralegals.

3. Seek certification, if desired.

There are several voluntary certification opportunities for paralegals in New York. While state-level licensure or certification is not required, obtaining voluntary certification can give paralegals an edge over the competition. Read more about paralegal certification in New York below.

Paralegal Certification in New York

Though state-level certification is not required in most states, including New York, aspiring paralegals are encouraged to seek voluntary national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI), or the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS). The CLA/CP examination offered by the NALA has been accepted as the national standard of excellence within the paralegal and legal assistant field and is a nationally recognized sign of accreditation. Read our Steps to Become a Paralegal page for more information on certification options.

New York Certification

In New York, paralegals must work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. The state has not established formal minimum educational requirements to work as a paralegal within the state. However, most entry-level paralegal jobs in New York require candidates to have at least an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or legal assisting. Additionally, the New York State Certified Paralegal Program from the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (ESAPA) offers voluntary state certification for eligible paralegals. The certification program recognizes paralegals who have gone above and beyond to exceed education and experience qualifications. Upon completion, they can use the New York State Certified Paralegal (NYSCP) credential.

New York Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook

There are numerous law firms hiring paralegals in New York on a consistent basis, with additional opportunities to find paralegal work in corporate departments and government agencies as well as through freelance engagements. Not surprisingly, some of the largest law firms in the country are headquartered in New York City. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates, more commonly known as Skadden, is one of the largest law firms not just in the US, but in the world. It is frequently ranked as a top-class firm in the areas of disputes and tax rankings, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate finance and investment. The international firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is a general regulatory practice employing over 1,000 attorneys that regularly seeks qualified paralegals in New York City. E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP, with offices in upstate New York, is regularly recognized as a top law firm for litigation, tax disputes, personal injury, and criminal defense.

Other opportunities for paralegals can be found in government, particularly with the New York District Attorney, the New York City Law Department, and the New York State Governor’s Office. Additionally, New York is home to several fortune 500 companies including Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobil, and Apple, all of which have headquarters in New York that often hire paralegals in their corporate legal offices. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (STATE or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in New York with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:

  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
  • Fragomen
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
  • United States Attorneys’​ Offices

For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.

New York Paralegal Salary Information

Projected Job Growth

15.5%

Paralegals in New York from 2018-20282

As employers seek to minimize costs and maximize the efficiency of legal services, the role of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to expand in both the diversity of the tasks allocated to them and in the number of paralegals employed by private law firms and corporate legal departments nationwide. The job growth rate for paralegals in New York state is projected to be 15.5%, slightly higher than the national projection of 12%.2 Current job growth projections are based on the expectation that law firms and other paralegal employers will continue to utilize paralegals for administrative tasks to reduce costs. Competition for paralegal and legal assistant positions within the New York City metropolitan area, which has the highest employment level of paralegals, is expected to remain quite strong due to the heavy concentration of law firms and corporations.3 Entry-level paralegals may also find employment in Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany, or Rochester where competition is less intense than New York City.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 27,540 paralegals and legal assistants employed in New York state as of May 2020. New York has the fourth highest number of paralegals behind Florida, California, and Texas and also the fourth highest concentration of paralegal jobs behind Washington DC, Florida, and Delaware.3 The statewide average New York paralegal salary is $62,530 annually, which is above the national mean paralegal wage of $56,610, and makes it the fifth top paying state for the profession.3 The average paralegal salary in New York City and the surrounding metro area is a bit higher, at $64,850 per year.3 Beyond paralegal degree programs and national certification, practical work experience within the paralegal field will strongly benefit candidates wishing to work in New York’s legal environment.

Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in October 2021.

New York Paralegal Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed4Average Annual Salary4
Albany-Schenectady-Troy1,140$55,290
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls1,160$48,530
New York-Newark-Jersey City27,600$64,850
Rochester760$52,190
Syracuse780$45,990

Paralegal Resources

Paralegal Associations in New York

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.

Additional Resources

References:
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