New York Paralegal Career Guide
This guide is your starting point for launching a career in the legal field. Our overview of paralegal careers provides career resources and New York paralegal salary information as well as answers to other common questions about how to become a paralegal in New York. Begin with the easy to navigate directory below to find the section most pertinent to your career questions.
Table of Contents
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in New York
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in New York
- Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
- Additional Paralegal Resources
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. 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.
Job Outlook in New York
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in New York from 2016-20262
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. At the national level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 15% growth in the number of paralegals and legal assistants from 2016 to 2026.1 The job growth rate for paralegals in New York state is projected to be slightly higher, at 16%.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 New York City, where more paralegal positions are concentrated than in any other area of the country, is expected to remain quite strong due to the concentration of law firms and corporations.3 Entry-level paralegals may also find employment in Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany, or Rochester where competition is less strong and young professionals will find more opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
New York Paralegal Salary Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 24,240 paralegals and legal assistants employed in New York state as of May 2017.4 The statewide average New York paralegal salary is $58,000 annually, which is above the national median paralegal wage of $50,410.3,4 The average paralegal salary in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area is notably higher, at $61,330 per year.3 These higher salaries likely reflect both the high cost of living in this area of the state as well as the more stringent work experience requirements for paralegal positions in prestigious law firms. 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.
New York Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A quick look at New York paralegal salary by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City||17,700||$61,330|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in New York
Though state-level certification is not required in most states, including New York, aspiring paralegals are encouraged to seek national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc., 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. Both completion of an ABA-approved paralegal program and certification through a national organization greatly benefit prospective paralegals within New York.
New York Certification
The state of New York has not established formal minimum educational requirements to work as a paralegal within the state. Entry-level paralegal jobs in New York typically require candidates to have at least an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or legal assisting. The American Bar Association has approved 36 New York paralegal programs.5 These programs provide a basic foundation of legal knowledge with an emphasis on legal procedures, legal ethics, and professional research and writing.
Career Quick Start Tips — 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 experience, though some paths to paralegal careers also include on-the-job training. Many professionals start by attending a New York paralegal school.
Candidates should keep in mind that though certification is not required, voluntary certification can make applicants more competitive in the eyes of employers. Take a look at typical requirements for paralegals on our jobs board to gain a better understanding of the attributes that law firms hiring paralegals are looking for. For more information on becoming a paralegal, including further detail on national certification programs, check out the Paralegal411 guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
- President of the Western New York Paralegal Association Laura Kryta
- New York Labor and Employment Lawyer Basil C. Sitaras
- Legal Business Development Coach Phyllis Weiss Haserot
Paralegals play an integral role in the firms for which they work, making a difference for their firms and for their firms’ clients. Success as a paralegal is tied to providing up-to-date information to attorneys and clients when and where it is needed. These resources for New York paralegals can help you get started.
New York Paralegal Career Books
- The New York Paralegal: Essential Rules, Documents, and Resources – Packed with state-specific guidelines for New York paralegals, this reference guide includes chapters on the state legal system, legal research, and an extensive legal dictionary. Accessible to entry-level paralegals and useful to experienced legal professionals, this reference is a must-have on the New York paralegal’s bookshelf.
- Wills, Trusts, and Estates: Essential Tools for the New York Paralegal – Paralegals working in probate, administration, and estate planning will find this text indispensable. Written specifically for paralegals working in these areas of law, this guide includes examples and case studies as well as diagrams to illustrate the entire process of estate handling.
- Civil Practice for Paralegals in New York State: Practical Interpretation of the Crucial Elements – Paralegals working for attorneys in civil practice will find this reference for New York civil procedure helpful in daily work. A complimenting appendix of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York is also available.
- New York Legal Research – Legal research is an integral component of paralegal work. This reference guide to New York information sources with primary authority and research techniques makes the research process less daunting. Also included are overviews of state legislative history and an appendix for legal citation.
- New York Family Law – Written for paralegals and undergraduate law students, this comprehensive introduction to family law covers all major aspects of the field, including matrimonial law, family offenses, child protection and parental rights, and adoption. Author Sara Schechter uses her 25 years of experience as a judge in New York Family Court to authoritatively discuss the relevant state and federal statutes governing the practice and procedure of family law.
- Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts — Now in its 7th edition, this text for first-year law students affords paralegals seeking a better understanding of contract law an opportunity to advance their skills and knowledge. The overarching themes of contract law are examined together with major contract cases and illustrative examples.
- New York Notary Law Primer — Paralegals often function as notaries as part of their duties, so an understanding of notary law and procedure is important. This primer includes ethics, best practices, and more for notarizing documents in New York.
- New York Commercial Law Goldbook — Written and published by the legal experts at LexisNexis, this reference includes the full text of relevant New York statutes and acts governing commercial law as well as supplementary articles analyzing key topics. For legal research, this reference also includes histories of source legislation and subsequent amendments.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for New York
- New York State Bar Association – Provides an employment board that includes paralegal jobs in New York as well as other states.
- New York City Bar Career Center – This is the first place many paralegals look for open positions in New York City.
For even more paralegal jobs in New York, be sure to visit the Paralegal411 jobs board.
New York Court Info
- NYCourts.gov — The New York State Unified Court System is a one-stop website for court information at all levels of the state judicial system. Included on this site are court forms, rules, e-filing access, and resources for legal research.
- NYCourts.gov/Reporter/Styman_Menu.htm — The New York Official Reports Style Manual is an online guide to current state citation guidelines, with case name and citation finders for New York and the US Supreme Court.
Law Libraries in New York
- New York State Unified Court System Libraries — New York’s unified court system provides an extensive law library, with a branch collection in each county in the state as provided for by state law. Online material is also available through library system’s website.
- New York University School of Law Library — Though it does not allow general purpose admission, the New York University School of Law Library admits paralegals and legal professionals with current business ID and organizational proof of need. Legal professionals may also purchase guest passes to access one of the deepest legal collections in the world.
- New York City Bar Library — The New York City Bar maintains an extensive law library that is open to guests sponsored by a current Bar Member. Many law firms also maintain an account at the library due to its extensive collection.
Paralegal Associations in New York
- Capital District Paralegal Association, Inc. — The Capital District Paralegal Association, which serves the Albany area, works to promote the image and use of paralegal professionals. A member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations, this organization offers benefits such as continuing legal education and networking opportunities.
- Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc. — The Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc., provides members with an extended statewide network of paralegals and legal professionals. Membership is open to working paralegals, related legal service providers, and students.
- New York City Paralegal Association, Inc. — The NYCPA provides regularly planned programs including meetings, seminars, and networking events to its members that are designed to advance career growth. Members have access to a private jobs bank and a network of legal professionals working across the New York City metropolitan area. Annual dues are $100 for active members, $75 for associates, and $50 for observers and students.
- Paralegal Association of Rochester — The Paralegal Association of Rochester, founded in 1975, holds members-only education, networking, and community service events throughout the calendar year. As a member association of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the association membership includes membership in the NFPA. Annual dues are $60 for voting members, $50 for affiliate members, and $30 for students.
- Western New York Paralegal Association, Inc. — Formed in 1976, the WNYPA serves the western region of New York state. Counting over 200 member paralegals, the association offers strong opportunities for networking, education, and professional advancement. Members also receive access to an active online discussion forum and jobs bank.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
2. New York Department of Labor: https://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/lsproj.shtm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New York: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ny.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/