Oklahoma Paralegal Career Guide
Our paralegal career guide is designed to answer the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Oklahoma. Here you will find in-depth information on Oklahoma paralegal salary, job outlook, and career resources to help you become competitive in the paralegal job market. Begin preparing for your paralegal career with the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Oklahoma
- Salary Outlook
- Salary by Metro Area
- Paralegal Certification
- Certification in Oklahoma
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Oklahoma
- Additional Paralegal Resources
- Oklahoma Paralegal Career Books
- Paralegal Job Search Websites
- Oklahoma State Court Info
- Law Libraries in Oklahoma
- Paralegal Associations in Oklahoma
Private law firms continue to be the primary source of paralegal jobs in Oklahoma. Oklahoma hosts several large law firms including McAfee & Taft, a firm with offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City that offers services in virtually every area of business law. McAfee & Taft has established a reputation for excellent customer service through innovative strategies and consistent results. Crowe & Dunlevy is another established firm with offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. This firm’s practice areas span corporate and commercial litigation, energy and natural resources, and labor and employment litigation. Large firms such as these generally divide paralegals into subject-based teams, allowing paralegals to specialize in a specific area of law. Mid-sized to small firms also have great positions for recently graduated paralegals and can provide a more intimate work experience.
Corporate positions for paralegals and legal assistants provide yet another type of work environment. Sizable corporations based in Oklahoma include American Fidelity Assurance, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, and QuikTrip. Many other private corporations, banks, and financial institutions across the state may have good opportunities for paralegals wishing to work outside of the typical legal setting. Additionally, government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels often post paralegal jobs in Oklahoma that may interest those who want to work in public policy, among other areas of law.
Job Outlook in Oklahoma
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Oklahoma from 2016-20261
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2,620 paralegals and legal assistants working in Oklahoma.2 As firms seek to reduce costs, the legal hiring environment is expected to undergo a significant shift away from attorney hiring and towards paralegal hiring. In addition, corporations may rely more heavily on internal legal departments rather than on more expensive outside counsel, creating new paralegal support positions. Corresponding with these predicted trends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth of 15% for paralegals and legal assistants in the United States from 2016 to 2026.3 Growth in Oklahoma paralegal jobs should be similar, with projections calling for 14.1% job growth for paralegals and legal assistants in the state during the same time period.1 This projection is based on an anticipated 410 newly created paralegal jobs in Oklahoma over the decade.1
Oklahoma Paralegal Salary Outlook
The average Oklahoma paralegal salary was reported at $47,440 in May 2017.2 Though this is lower than the national average paralegal salary of $53,910, prospective paralegals should note the lower cost of living in the state.2 In addition, paralegal salary in Oklahoma tends to be higher in urban areas. For example, Oklahoma City-area paralegals earn an average salary of $49,980 – which is also significantly higher than the 2014 average of $39,450.2 With an already strong average salary and the projected expansion of the paralegal profession, the job and salary outlook for paralegals and legal assistants within Oklahoma is positive over the coming years.
Oklahoma Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A quick glance at paralegal salary in Oklahoma by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in Oklahoma
Oklahoma paralegal certification is not required to work as a paralegal in the state. Paralegals and legal assistants are categorized as legal paraprofessionals who may perform legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney. In addition, Oklahoma state law does not currently dictate any minimum standards of education or training for paralegals or legal assistants within the state. However, attending one of the paralegal schools in Oklahoma is recommended to prepare for a legal support career.
There are currently five Oklahoma paralegal programs that have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). However, other schools that do not hold ABA approval may also be sufficient to prepare for a paralegal career. Prospective paralegals and legal assistants should select a program based on their personal educational history and career goals. Upon completion of an Oklahoma paralegal program, candidates are encouraged to seek voluntary national certification from an organization such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).
Although Oklahoma paralegal certification is not required to work as a paralegal, the Oklahoma Bar Association has issued Minimum Qualification Standards for Legal Assistants/Paralegals, which are designed to encourage Oklahoma State Bar members to hire candidates who have completed some formal paralegal training. These minimum standards advise employers to seek out candidates with legal work experience, degrees from accredited institutions, and completion of a recognized national paralegal certification exam. These certification examinations are not mandated by state law but are generally recognized as establishing a standard of consistency and competency within the paralegal field. Prospective Oklahoma paralegals are encouraged to refer to the Oklahoma paralegal associations listed below for more information regarding paralegal employment, education, and certification.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Oklahoma
As there are no Oklahoma paralegal certification rules, paralegals in Oklahoma may take a variety of career paths. Candidates for paralegal positions are strongly advised to seek formal training from one of the available Oklahoma paralegal programs to best prepare them for entry into a legal career. Experience, which can include in-school internships, can also help applicants become more competitive. Additionally, certification from a nationally recognized organization is beneficial for paralegal job seekers. You can get a better idea of the typical requirements for paralegal jobs in Oklahoma on our jobs board. You can also read more about national certification on our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Paralegals play an integral role in the legal team and can make a difference in clients’ lives. Being able to access the right resources at the right time is an important skill for successful paralegals. These Oklahoma paralegal career resources can help you become more competitive in the job market.
Oklahoma Paralegal Career Books
- Oklahoma Legal Research – This text focused on the principles and practice of legal research in Oklahoma covers primary and secondary sources of law in print and electronic resources. A chapter dedicated to tribal law research is also included. Lead author Darin K. Fox is Director of the University of Oklahoma Law Library.
- Oklahoma Family Law – This accessible reference to Oklahoma family law covers state statutes and case law with special attention given to ethics. All major aspects of family law are covered, as well as actions such as discovery, trial, contempt, and mediation. Helpful tables for laws, rules, and cases facilitate legal research.
- Oklahoma Criminal Law: Statutes & Rules Annotated – Updated for 2014, this helpful guide to Oklahoma criminal law is fully annotated with quotes, penalty ranges, and cross-references. Contained in one volume, this reference is designed to be portable from the office to the courtroom.
- Oklahoma Probate Handbook – Published by Thomson Reuters and updated through 2014, this reference is essential for paralegals working in estate law. The text covers probate as well as related legal documents such as trusts, guardianships, and power of attorney. A statutory cross-reference to the complimenting Oklahoma Probate Law and Practice text is also included.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Oklahoma
- Oklahoma County Bar Association – The Oklahoma County Bar Association maintains an employment portal that includes Oklahoma paralegal jobs, primarily in the Oklahoma City area.
- Paralegal411 jobs board – For even more paralegal jobs in Oklahoma, check out our jobs board.
Oklahoma Court Info
- Oklahoma State Courts Network – The Oklahoma State Courts Network is a portal to all courts within the state’s jurisdiction, including the Oklahoma Supreme Court and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. From here visitors can access court news, resources, and forms, as well as e-filing systems where available. The site also includes legal research links and resources.
Law Libraries in Oklahoma
- Oklahoma County Law Library – Located in the Oklahoma County Courthouse in Oklahoma City, this law library is open to legal professionals and the general public. Library resources include print volumes and electronic databases.
- Oklahoma Department of Libraries Cartwright Law Library – Housed in the State Capitol Complex in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries is Oklahoma’s official state library. The law collection focuses on Oklahoma legal materials, though it also contains federal legal materials and many law reviews and journals. The website also hosts a comprehensive selection of electronic legal research links.
- The University of Oklahoma College of Law Donald E. Pray Law Library – On the University of Oklahoma’s main campus in Norman, this law library welcomes legal professionals and the greater community. The library’s print collection holds over 360,000 volumes, in addition to its resources in numerous electronic databases. Special collections include federal government documents, Native American Constitution and Law, and rare books.
Paralegal Associations in Oklahoma
- Central Oklahoma Association of Legal Assistants – The Central Oklahoma Association of Legal Assistants seeks to promote communication and mutual support within the legal professions. The association hosts regular luncheons and networking events. Annual dues are $65 for active and associate members and $30 for student members.
- Oklahoma Paralegal Association – An affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the Oklahoma Paralegal Association encourages fellowship between paralegals and seeks to advance the paralegal profession through community participation. The association’s calendar includes regular meetings and continuing education seminars. Annual dues are $50 for active members, $45 for associate members, and $25 for student members.
- Tulsa Area Paralegal Association – Founded in 1982, the Tulsa Area Paralegal Association seeks to promote education and professional growth for its membership. The organization maintains a jobs board accessible to members as well as other professional resources. Annual dues are $55 for active and associate members and $25 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, Oklahoma: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ok.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/