Oregon Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
This guide is your starting point for exploring a career in the paralegal field in Oregon. Generally speaking, entry-level paralegal jobs in Oregon will require an associate’s degree or certificate in paralegal studies. On this page, you will find important information on becoming an Oregon paralegal, including the best steps to take, certification options, Oregon career and salary outlook, and professional resources. Begin your career journey with the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in Oregon
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
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. Paralegal certification can also aid candidates seeking Oregon paralegal jobs.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Earning a certificate or associate degree degree from one of the paralegal schools in Oregon can help potential paralegals build their legal skills and become competitive for applicants for paralegal positions. Currently, there is one approved American Bar Association (ABA) program in the state. 1
2. Gain experience.
Experience is another important step in becoming a paralegal, and internships, job shadowing, and on-the-job training are often offered as part of paralegal education programs. Not all programs will require experience for degree credit, but taking advantage of real-world experience opportunities is recommended to make paralegal candidates more competitive in the job field. Not only does this type of work experience offer invaluable skill training, but it can also create networking opportunities.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Although Oregon does not require licensure or certification for paralegals, pursuing voluntary certification can help paralegals in their job search. Certification is available at both the state and national levels for Oregon paralegals.
Paralegal Certification in Oregon
Oregon, like most states, does not have certification requirements for paralegals. Paralegals and legal assistants are defined as legal paraprofessionals and are authorized to perform legal tasks with the direct supervision of a qualified attorney.
Although certification is not required, obtaining voluntary paralegal certifications can show commitment, a desire for excellence, and provide networking opportunities. National organizations offer certification programs to maintain a consistent level of competency within the paralegal profession nationwide. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association); the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); and the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI) offer voluntary certification programs that are widely accepted by the industry as preparing candidates for professional excellence. Obtaining voluntary certification from these associations is highly recommended and well-respected by paralegal employers. Prospective Oregon paralegals should also consult the Oregon paralegal associations listed below. For more information on national certification options, take a look at our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Additionally, the state-level Oregon Paralegal Association (OPA) offers the Oregon Certified Paralegal (OCP) credential. The OCP program strives to establish a uniform standard for paralegals in Oregon. Applicants may or may not currently hold the title of “paralegal,” but they must have worked for an Oregon legal office for at least the past 12 months, be performing legal work under a lawyer’s supervision, and have experience in providing legal assistance. Prospective OCPs must be at least 18 years old and either be certified paralegals with a national organization or possess a combination of minimum education and experience requirements including:
- Hold an associate degree in paralegal studies from an ABA or institutionally accredited school, with four years of experience.
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an ABA or institutionally accredited school, with two years of experience.
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited school, with a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies as well as with two years of experience (one of which must be in Oregon).
Applicants may or may not currently hold the title of “paralegal,” but they must have worked for an Oregon legal office for at least the past 12 months, be performing legal work under a lawyer’s supervision, and have experience in providing legal assistance. For more information, consult the OPA website.
Oregon Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
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. Also in Portland, Schwabe, Williamson, & Wyatt is another well-established firm with competitive benefits and a commitment to equal opportunity employment. Schwabe, Williamson, & Wyatt focuses on six industries: natural resources; real estate and construction; healthcare and life sciences; technology; transportation; ports and maritime; manufacturing; distribution; and retail.
Corporations generally offer different work environments for paralegals and legal assistants, and may be attractive for those with interests in business or financial law. Large corporations based in Oregon include Nike, Precision Castparts, Lithia Motors, and StanCorp Financial Group. Various government agencies, banks, and other financial institutions may also offer paralegal jobs in Oregon. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (Oregon or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in Oregon with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Oregon Department of Justice
- Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
- State of Oregon
- Stoel Rives LLP
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
Oregon Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Oregon from 2018-20282
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 4,230 paralegals and legal assistants working in the state of Oregon.3 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. Projections Central estimates 12% growth for paralegal and legal assistant jobs nationwide from 2018 to 2028, and job growth for paralegals in Oregon should be slightly slower, at 9.7% over the same period.2 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.
In 2020, the average paralegal salary in Oregon was reported at $57,510 per year.3 This is slightly higher than the national average paralegal salary of $56,610.3 Wages are expected to be highest at large law firms and large corporations, and/or where the cost of living is relatively higher, in areas such as Bend and Redmond. Paralegals based in the Bend-Redmond area earn the highest average paralegal salary in Oregon, at $66,640.3 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.
Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
Oregon Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Average Annual Salary4
Paralegal Associations in Oregon
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.
- NALS of Oregon: Holds regularly scheduled meetings, continuing education opportunities, and professional development seminars in an effort to encourage all members to uphold the high standards of the legal profession.
- Oregon Paralegal Association (OPA): Seeks to promote the paralegal profession and professional development of paralegals and legal assistants throughout the state, offering a full roster of events and opportunities to its members.
- Oregon Judicial Department: Provides access to all courts in the state’s jurisdiction, including court dockets, forms, and e-filing systems for all state courts.
- Oregon State Bar: Strives to regulate and uphold high standards for legal professionals in Oregon, and offers a career center for legal professionals.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: To search for paralegal jobs in Oregon, be sure to visit our jobs board.
- State of Oregon Law Library Digital Collection: Provides access to primary sources on state and federal law, including historical legal documents and electronic resources.
- Oregon Council of County Law Libraries: Allows visitors to access 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 in Eugene, this law library is open to the general public for research purposes3 and includes major collections such as Oregon Law, Ocean and Coastal Law, Employment Law, and Indian Law and Culture.
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