Oregon Paralegal Career Guide
Our career guide is your starting point for launching a career in the legal support field. This overview of Oregon paralegal salary, job outlook, and career resources will help you find the answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Oregon. Begin your career journey with the easy to navigate directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Oregon
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Oregon
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Large law firms may be a good starting point for finding paralegal jobs in Oregon. Larger firms tend to practice in a wide range of legal areas and positions at firms such as these generally allow paralegals to specialize in a certain area of law. Based in Portland, Stoel Rives LLP is one of the leading law firms in Oregon with over 350 full-time attorneys practicing in virtually every legal area. Renewable energy, technology, real estate, litigation, and intellectual property law are all areas of particular strength within the firm. Stoel Rives is known for its competitive compensation and benefits packages as well as its positive work culture for paralegal staff. Also in Portland, Schwabe, Williamson, & Wyatt is another well-established firm with competitive benefits and a commitment to equal opportunity employment.
Corporations offer a slightly different work experience for paralegals and legal assistants and may be attractive for paralegals and legal assistants with interests in business or financial law. Large corporations based in Oregon include Nike Inc., Walsh Construction Co., and Intel. Various government agencies, banks, and other financial institutions may also offer paralegal jobs in Oregon.
Job Outlook in Oregon
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Oregon from 2016-20261
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3,630 paralegals and legal assistants working in the state of Oregon, a significant increase over the 2012 estimate of 2,370 paralegals and legal assistants employed in the state.2 The paralegal profession is expected to continue to undergo expansion in the next several years as law firms seek to minimize the cost of providing legal services by favoring paralegal labor over more costly attorney labor. Corporations are expected to make similar adjustments and favor internal legal departments rather than the more expensive option of seeking outside counsel. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 15% growth for paralegal and legal assistant jobs nationwide from 2016 to 2026.3 Job growth for paralegals in Oregon should be roughly similar, at 12.4% over the same period.1 The majority of paralegal jobs in Oregon can be anticipated to come from the Portland metropolitan area, though other areas within the state should also experience job growth.
Oregon Paralegal Salary Outlook
In 2017, the average paralegal salary in Oregon was reported at $53,010.2 This is close to the national average paralegal salary of $53,910.2 Wages are expected to be highest at large law firms and large corporations, especially those based in urban areas such as Portland and Salem. Portland-area paralegals earn the highest average paralegal salary in Oregon, at $56,110.2 The already strong average paralegal wage and the positive predicted employment trends suggest a favorable job and salary outlook for paralegals throughout the coming decade.
Oregon Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A quick look at Oregon paralegal salary 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 Oregon
There are no state-level requirements for Oregon paralegal certification. Paralegals and legal assistants are defined as legal paraprofessionals and are authorized to perform legal tasks with the direct supervision of a qualified attorney. However, paralegal employers are exhibiting a growing preference for candidates with formal paralegal education such as that earned from one of the available Oregon paralegal programs. Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved two paralegal programs in Oregon. There are also a number of paralegal schools in Oregon that do not hold ABA approval which may be sufficient preparation for an entry-level paralegal career. Individuals are advised to select a program based on personal career goals and previous education. Completion of a paralegal program can prepare professionals to take voluntary national certification exams, which are explained further below.
Though there are no formal Oregon paralegal certification requirements, there are a number of voluntary certification programs that paralegals can complete. The state-level Oregon Paralegal Association (OPA) offers the Oregon Certified Paralegal (OCP) credential. To be eligible to earn the OCP, paralegals must be currently employed in the profession performing substantive legal tasks and apply to the OPA. For more information, consult the OPA website.
Optional certification through a national organization such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) is also highly encouraged as these certification programs aim to ensure a high degree of competency for paralegals nationwide. In addition, employers may view applicants with additional credentials – including attendance at one of the paralegal schools in Oregon – as more competitive professionals. Prospective Oregon paralegals should also consult the Oregon paralegal associations listed below.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Oregon
Since paralegal certification in Oregon is not a requirement to begin a career in the state, there are a number of career paths that legal professionals can follow. Most Oregon paralegals have a combination of education and experience, which may come from in-school internships or on-the-job training. Others work their way up the career ladder by starting out as legal document preparers or legal secretaries. However, the most competitive way to start a paralegal career is by attending one of the paralegal schools in Oregon. You can get a better idea of the requirements for Oregon paralegal jobs on our jobs board. You can also learn more about the national paralegal certification programs with our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal. Overall, for the brightest job prospects candidates are encouraged to pursue formal paralegal training and national certification and explore a variety of legal settings while job seeking.
Paralegals play an integral role in the legal support team and can make a positive difference for their firms. To be successful as a paralegal, professionals must have access to the right resources when they are needed. The following Oregon paralegal career resources can help you get a strong start with your career.
Oregon Paralegal Career Books
- Oregon Legal Research – Legal research is one of the most common tasks assigned to paralegals, and one that successful paralegals must master. This guide to legal research with a specific focus on sources of Oregon law is indispensable for career paralegals. The book takes a process-oriented approach to encourage research efficiency and covers case and administrative law, statutes, and legislative history as well as secondary sources of law with practical tips throughout.
- Interpreting Oregon Law – Written by the Oregon State Bar, this primer to understanding the principles and history of Oregon law gives legal professionals an overview of how sources of law in Oregon are constructed and designed to be interpreted. Divided into chapters based on areas of law, including statutory rules, the Oregon Constitution, and initiatives and referendums, the text also provides overviews of general legal principles, context, and a table of cases.
- The Oregon Notary Law Primer – As law firms and legal departments seek to increase efficiency, paralegals are frequently asked to assume the role of notary. This guide to Oregon notary law helps beginning notaries understand the rules and processes of notary acts and also serves as an ongoing reference for those more experienced in notary acts. In addition to covering the law, this primer also provides useful practical tips.
- Oregon Real Estate: Practices, Finance, Law – The only reference guide to cover all three major subject areas in real estate law and practice, this book is designed for professionals working with real estate contracts and disputes. The text is specific to the laws of Oregon and is written for those who have limited background in real estate, making it helpful for beginning paralegals.
- Oregon Criminal Procedural Law and Oregon Traffic Law – Paralegals working for defense attorneys and for prosecutors will find this overview of criminal and traffic law in Oregon a helpful ongoing reference. The primary focus is on Oregon criminal procedure, though overviews of controlling federal laws are covered. In addition to explaining the laws in play in defense cases, the text also gives helpful overviews of statements and other common tasks necessary to prepare a case from both the defense and the prosecution perspectives.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Oregon
- Oregon State Bar – The Oregon State Bar also maintains an career center that includes Oregon paralegal jobs.
- Paralegal411 jobs board – To see even more paralegal jobs in Oregon, be sure to visit our jobs board.
Oregon Court Info
- Courts.Oregon.gov – The Oregon Judicial Department provides a one-stop website for accessing all courts in the state’s jurisdiction. Site visitors can access court dockets, forms, and e-filing systems for courts from the circuit courts to the Oregon Supreme Court. The site also offers case search and other research resources for the Oregon courts.
Law Libraries in Oregon
- State of Oregon Law Library Digital Collection – The State of Oregon Library collections focus on primary sources of Oregon and US law, and the library takes particular pride in its premier collection of historical Oregon legal documents. In addition to its print collections, the library has numerous electronic resources. Access to the library is open to all Oregon citizens.
- Oregon Council of County Law Libraries – Oregon is one of the states that has established and funded county libraries through statute. The Council of County Law Libraries website allows visitors to look up individual county libraries and provides access to legal research links and online public catalogs, among other research resources.
- University of Oregon John E. Jaqua Law Library – Located on the main campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene, this law library is open to the general public for research purposes. Major collections at the library include Oregon Law, Ocean and Coastal Law, Employment Law, and Indian Law and Culture. The library also provides electronic research guides and extensive web resources.
Paralegal Associations in Oregon
- NALS of Oregon – NALS of Oregon extends membership to all types of legal professionals, including paralegals. An affiliate of NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals, the Oregon association holds regular educational meetings and professional development seminars. Membership dues are $165 for new members, $75 for associate members, and $29 for student members.
- Oregon Paralegal Association – An affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the Oregon Paralegal Association seeks to promote the paralegal profession and the professional development of its membership. This active organization has several committees dedicated to different areas of paralegal practice and is able to offer a full roster of events and opportunities for its members. Annual dues are $90 for regular members, $60 for public sector members, $50 for associate members, and $45 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, Oregon: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/