Texas Paralegal Career Guide
Our guide provides salary information and career resources answering some of the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Texas. Use the easy-to-navigate directory below to quickly find the section most relevant to you.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Texas
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Texas
- Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
- Additional Paralegal Resources
There are many opportunities to find paralegal jobs in Texas. Houston hosts the highest density of large law firms in Texas and is home to such firms as Baker Botts LLP, Vinson & Elkins LLP, and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Prestigious and well-respected in the Lone Star State, Baker Botts offers a conservative work environment and specializes in technology, complex litigation, white-collar defense, and appellate advocacy. In Dallas, Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm that sustains a high demand for attorney and paralegal labor, especially in global business. Haynes and Boone emphasizes a positive firm culture based on internal teamwork and relies heavily upon paralegal support across a range of legal topics. In San Antonio, De Mott, Mcchesney, Curtright & Armendariz LLP is a stable, fast-growing immigration and criminal law firm that employs career-focused individuals to assist their attorneys as paralegals and legal assistants. Major corporations based in Texas include AT&T, American Airlines, Dell Computer, Michaels Stores, Inc., and Waste Management, Inc., all of which demand a great deal of paralegal support in their legal departments. Recently certificated or certified paralegals in Texas may also seek employment in a variety of regional, state, and local government agencies.
Job Outlook in Texas
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Texas from 2016-20261
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 22,730 paralegals and legal assistants employed in the state of Texas as of May 2017, placing Texas fourth in the nation for the number of paralegals employed.2 A 15% increase in employment for paralegals and legal assistants is projected nationwide from 2016 to 2026, compared with a projected 22.2% increase in employment for paralegals and legal assistants in Texas during the same period.1,3 As the role of paralegals and legal assistants becomes more substantive and diverse, law firms of all sizes are expected to expand the number of support staff, creating new opportunities for qualified paralegals. Overall, the outlook for paralegal jobs in Texas is favorable considering nationwide trends in paralegal job creation and expansion and the presence of well-known law firms and corporations across the state. Job prospects are likely to be strongest in metropolitan areas where large numbers of paralegals are currently employed such as Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Texas Paralegal Salary Outlook
Paralegals in Texas make a mean annual wage of $54,940, which is slightly higher than the national average paralegal wage of $50,410.2,3 A paralegal’s wages may vary from firm to firm, according to the paralegal’s experience level, and based on the area in which he or she is employed. The average cost of living in a given area can have a substantial influence on average salaries. Paralegal salary in Texas may also vary according to employers’ practice areas. Both Houston and Dallas host dense concentrations of large and diverse law firms, sustaining demand for paralegal labor in virtually all areas of legal practice that can lead to higher salaries.
Texas Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A look at paralegal salary in Texas by major metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos||3,430||$50,040|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land||5,920||$61,770|
|San Antonio-New Braunfels||1,890||$45,550|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Since most states do not have certification requirements for paralegals and the American Bar Association (ABA) includes legal assistants, legal secretaries, and document preparers in its definition of paralegals, the definition of what a paralegal does is broad. This impacts the requirements for prospective Texas paralegals. Although some law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies provide on-site paralegal training, becoming a paralegal in Texas usually involves earning either a certificate or degree in paralegal studies or legal assisting before entering the workforce. There are numerous paralegal schools in Texas that provide education and training for aspiring paralegals.
Currently, there are no mandatory licensing requirements for paralegal certification in Texas at the state level. However, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization offers voluntary paralegal certification in seven practice areas. In addition, completion of an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved paralegal degree program and national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or a comparable organization may enhance the marketability of applicants. The American Bar Association has formally approved 11 paralegal programs in Texas.5 The State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division provides further information regarding paralegal employment opportunities and certification in Texas.
Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Texas
There are many paths you can follow to become a paralegal. Most paralegals in Texas possess a combination of education, experience (which may include internships), and on-the-job training. Others may begin working as document preparers or legal secretaries and achieve promotion to the paralegal position. In addition, national certification or Texas-specific paralegal certification can make applicants more competitive on the job market. You can review typical requirements for your area on our paralegal job board. For more information on how to become a paralegal, see the Paralegal411 guide How to Become a Paralegal.
Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
- Partner and Texas Employment Lawyer Michael W. Fox
- President of the Fort Worth Paralegal Association Katrina Lea
- Texas Employment Lawyer Michael P. Maslanka
As a paralegal, you play a critical role in the success of your firm and can make a difference in peoples’ lives. A large part of this success is driven by having the most current information available for your firm and its clients. The following resources for Texas paralegals can help you set yourself apart.
Texas Paralegal Career Books
- The Texas Paralegal – Authored by William P. Statsky and Lynn Crossett, this resource guide provides an overview of Texas State laws pertaining to the paralegal profession. Also included are chapters on ethics, legal research, and a legal dictionary for reference.
- Texas Law Review Manual on Usage, Style & Editing – Now in its 11th edition, the Manual on Usage, Style & Editing by the Texas Law Review is a convenient, pocket-sized style and usage guide for all legal writers. Most major conventions are covered with a specific focus on usage in Texas. A downloadable app for the manual is also available.
- The Green Book: Texas Rules of Form – By the Texas Law Review, the Green Book is meant as a Texas-specific companion to the national Harvard Bluebook of legal citations. With notations and citations for statutes, formal advisory opinions, and specific courts as well as other common and uncommon references, this is the authoritative guide to Texas citation styles.
- Texas Evidence Rules Courtroom Quick Reference: 2014 – Available in paperback and e-copy, this easy to use reference guides paralegals and legal professionals through court rules. Designed as a quick reference, this book is indispensable for paralegals participating in discovery and evidentiary hearings.
- Specialized Topics in Texas Legal Research – Written by Matthew C. Cordon and Brandon D. Quarles, this in-depth examination of authority and strategy in specialized research areas is an essential desktop reference. Topics covered include Civil Litigation and Appeals, Criminal Law and Procedure, Business and Commercial Law, Family Law, and much more.
- Texas Legal Research – This research guide provides a process-oriented approach to researching Texas law. Accessible to first-year paralegal students and a concise reference for working professionals, this book also includes references to online resources as well as an overview of the Texas Constitution.
- Wills, Trusts, and Probate Administration for the Texas Paralegal – Written specifically for paralegals, this guide presents comprehensive coverage of Texas probate law. Discussions on wills, trusts, estates, and civil law provide paralegals with an understanding of estate planning and estate administration essential to those working in probate law.
- Paralegal Ethics Handbook – Produced by the Texas State Bar Association, this book is a must-read for all Texas paralegals. This comprehensive guide covers ethics in 24 practice areas and guides to determining whether actions may involve ethical violations, providing a useful understanding of ethics for paralegal certification in Texas.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Texas
- State Bar of Texas Career Center – A hub for parlaegal job openings.
- Paralegal411 jobs board – Additional openings for paralegals and legal support professionals.
Texas State Court Info
- TxCourts.gov – The Texas Judicial Branch is the definitive source for case law, court forms, and other essential information for paralegals in Texas.
- Search.TxCourts.gov – From the Texas Judicial Branch case search page you can search for past cases from the Texas Courts of Appeal, Supreme Court, and specialty courts, as well as find information for case submission schedules.
- TexasBar.com – The website for the State Bar of Texas provides the most up to date information for legal professionals working in Texas, and is also a portal for current events impacting the legal profession.
Law Libraries in Texas
- Texas State Law Library – The Texas State Law Library, headquartered in Austin, is a public law library that also serves the state courts and other agencies. In addition to an expansive print collection, digital collections are also available to subscribers.
- County Law Libraries index – Texas county and university law libraries can be found here.
Paralegal Associations in Texas
- Bell County Bar Association Paralegals – The Bell County Bar Association or BCBA provides members with networking, continuing education, and public service opportunities. Membership is open to paralegals and other legal support staff in Bell County and surrounding areas. The BCBA shares area job opportunities and helps members looking for employers gain visibility through its Job Bank.
- Capital Area Paralegal Association – CAPA is the largest affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) in Texas. Operating throughout the Austin area, CAPA provides members with employment assistance through its freelance directory, job bank, and networking opportunities. The organization also promotes contributions through pro bono work and community service.
- Dallas Area Paralegal Association – The Dallas Area Paralegal Association was founded in 1976 to promote the paralegal profession through continuing legal education, professional development, and relationships with local, state, and national bar associations. The association promotes networking through various initiatives and events, including its Mentor Program. Fees for membership are for $60 students and $70 for voting and non-voting members. Fees include membership in the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA).
- Denton County Paralegal Association – Founded in 1991, the Denton County Paralegal Association advocates for the advancement of the paralegal profession. Members receive networking and professional development opportunities with events throughout the year such as socials, luncheons, conferences, and continuing education. Annual dues are $35 for all members.
- El Paso Paralegal Association – Since 1982 the El Paso Paralegal Association has been promoting professional development for paralegals. Members receive access to a shared job bank, continuing education, and reimbursement awards for certain paralegal certifications. Annual fees for sustaining members are $60, for active and associate members $40, and student members $15.
- Houston Association of Bankruptcy Paralegals – The Houston Association of Bankruptcy Paralegals is a membership-driven organization comprised of paralegals and legal assistants specializing in bankruptcy law. Sustaining members of the organization include many of the top bankruptcy law firms in the Houston area.
- Houston Corporate Paralegal Association – The Houston Corporate Paralegal Association is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the Texas Alliance of Paralegal Associations. The HCPA provides networking, continuing education, and job bank benefits to members. Membership dues are $60 for regular (voting) members, $50 for associate (non-voting) members, $35 for students, and $150 for sustaining members.
- Houston Paralegal Association – The mission of the Houston Paralegal Association is to provide education and professional development for paralegals to advance the paralegal profession. The association holds events throughout the year for networking, continuing education, and charity objectives. Fees are $15 per year for active and associate members.
- North Texas Paralegal Association – Founded in 2001, the North Texas Paralegal Association is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Members receive access to monthly continuing legal education seminars, networking events, and other professional development opportunities.
- San Antonio Paralegal Association – The San Antonio Paralegal Association is the only National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)-affiliated paralegal association in San Antonio. Founded in 2002, this active organization seeks to assist members with career development in all specialty areas with networking and certification opportunities. Annual dues are $45 for voting members, $35 for associate members, and $20 for students.
- Southeast Texas Association of Paralegals – SETAP, the Southeast Texas Association of Paralegals, holds speaker meetings and professional development seminars throughout the year. Members may post resumes and search opportunities on a Job Bank that reaches employers throughout Southeast Texas. Annual membership fees are $45 for active (voting) members, $45 for freelance members, $35 for associate members, and $15 for student members.
- State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division – The Start Bar of Texas Paralegal Division accepts students, entry-level paralegals, and established professionals as members. Members receive access to benefits including continuing education seminars, message boards, a jobs bank, and professional tools.
- West Texas Paralegal Association – The West Texas Paralegal Association is affiliated with the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). This association emphasizes networking and volunteer opportunities.
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, Texas: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tx.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/