West Virginia Paralegal Career Guide
Our guide is your starting point for learning how to become a paralegal in West Virginia. Here you will find in-depth information on West Virginia paralegal salary, job outlook, and career resources to help you plan your career in the legal field. Start your paralegal career journey with the directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in West Virginia
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in West Virginia
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Though paralegals can be found working in corporations, insurance groups, and government agencies, law firms are the primary employers of paralegals nationwide. Large national or international firms generally require the greatest degree of paralegal support and commonly delegate legal support professionals to specific practice areas, allowing a degree of specialization. Jackson Kelly PLLC is a Charleston-based firm with a strong national reputation that practices in areas including safety and health, white collar criminal defense, and environmental and governmental affairs. With offices across the Midwest and clients ranging from corporations to local start-ups, Jackson Kelly is a promising place to find West Virginia paralegal jobs. Dinsmore & Shohl LLP is a full-service law firm and the fourth largest firm in West Virginia, with five offices in the state. Its attorneys practice in such areas as banking and finance, bankruptcy, immigration, real estate, trusts, and taxation. Large, well-established firms such as these with a wide variety of practice areas are ideal entry points for prospective paralegals wishing to explore several areas of law.
Corporations offer a slightly different work environment for paralegals and legal assistants and may be well suited for those interested in finance, business litigation, product liability or trademarking. West Virginia hosts several large national corporations including Vaught Inc., KeyLogic, Advanced Technical Solutions, and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. Government agencies may also post paralegal jobs in West Virginia that can be a fit for those interested in less traditional areas of paralegal practice.
Job Outlook in West Virginia
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in West Virginia from 2016-20261
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 2,050 paralegals and legal assistants working in West Virginia.2 Law offices, corporations, and government agencies have begun a nationwide trend towards minimizing the cost of legal services, resulting in an upswing in paralegal hiring. This diversification of the paralegal job market should produce new opportunities for recent paralegal graduates. At the national level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 15% employment increase for paralegals and legal assistants from 2016 to 2026.3 Slower but still positive growth in West Virginia paralegal jobs is expected over the same period, at 9%.1
West Virginia Paralegal Salary Outlook
The average West Virginia paralegal salary was reported at $43,650 in 2017.2 Though this wage is lower than the national average wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $53,910, this may be partly based on the lower average cost of living in West Virginia.2 The projected expansion of the paralegal profession suggests that employment prospects, and in turn paralegal salary in West Virginia, should increase in the coming years.
West Virginia Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
An overview of paralegal salary in West Virginia 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 West Virginia
West Virginia paralegal certification is not required to work as a paralegal in the state. However, paralegals must work under the supervision of a licensed attorney and may not practice law or provide counsel to clients. West Virginia state law does not define educational or experience minimums for the employment of paralegals; however, employers generally prefer candidates with some formal training, such as that earned from one of the paralegal schools in West Virginia. The American Bar Association (ABA) has approved one West Virginia paralegal program. Upon completion of a paralegal degree program, individuals are encouraged to seek national certification through an organization such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). These national paralegal organizations offer voluntary certification examinations that are generally accepted in the legal community.
West Virginia Certification
Though optional, completion of a national certification program can give candidates a competitive edge in the paralegal job market. Eligibility for national certification is typically based on the candidate’s education and experience, which makes completing a West Virginia paralegal program a smart career move. For more information on national certification, consult our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal. You can also consult the West Virginia paralegal associations listed below for further information regarding education, certification, and experience opportunities for early career paralegals.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in West Virginia
As there are no statewide requirements for West Virginia paralegal certification, paralegals and legal assistants within the state begin legal support careers through on-site training offered by employers. However, the majority of paralegals have some combination of education and experience in the legal field before beginning employment, which typically includes study at one of the paralegal schools in West Virginia. Formal paralegal education and national certification will strongly benefit job candidates across the state. For an idea of the credentials typical paralegal jobs in West Virginia require, take a look at the Paralegal411 jobs board.
Paralegals play an important role in the success of their firms and can make a difference in the lives of clients. Success as a paralegal is partly based on having the most current information available when it is needed. These West Virginia paralegal career resources can help you get a head start.
West Virginia Paralegal Career Books
- West Virginia Legal Research – This guide to legal research in West Virginia provides paralegals with a process-oriented overview of the legal research process. Author Hollee Schwartz Temple, Professor of the West Virginia University College of Law, adopts a conversational tone to discuss primary and secondary sources of law and modern research tools. Also included is a chapter on citation standards in West Virginia.
- West Virginia Criminal and Traffic Law Manual – Updated annually, this reference from LexisNexis provides paralegals working for defense and prosecution attorneys with a handy guide to state criminal and traffic law. The text is available in print and e-book formats.
- West Virginia Natural Resources Laws – Nicknamed the Mountain State for its natural beauty, West Virginia’s natural resources are protected by both state and federal laws. Published by LexisNexis and based on direction from the state Division of Natural Resources, this cross-referenced text covers state codes, statutes, and summaries of past cases guiding current natural resources law in the state.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for West Virginia
- West Virginia State Bar Career Center – The West Virginia State Bar career center includes paralegal jobs in West Virginia and provides links to state agencies that often post employment opportunities for paralegals.
- Paralegal411 jobs board – You can find even more paralegal jobs in West Virginia on our jobs board.
West Virginia Court Info
- CourtsWV.gov – The West Virginia Judiciary provides a one-stop portal for all courts in the state’s jurisdiction from the Supreme Court of Appeals to the family courts. From this site visitors can access court news, publications, and forms as well as e-filing systems. The website also provides helpful legal research links.
Law Libraries in West Virginia
- West Virginia State Law Library – The West Virginia State Law Library collections are open to the legal community and the general public. The library is located in the Capitol Complex in Charleston and houses over 150,000 volumes and volume equivalents. The library collections focus on state law, though the library is also a partial Federal Depository Library.
- West Virginia University George R. Farmer Law Library – On the West Virginia University main campus in Morgantown, the George R. Farmer Law Library is the largest law library in West Virginia and welcomes legal professionals and the general public. The library holds over 300,000 print volumes in addition to comprehensive electronic legal resources. All users may apply for a borrower’s card and may also request document delivery services for a nominal charge.
Paralegal Associations in West Virginia
- Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia – Focused on the needs of professionals involved with the Civil Defense Bar, this organization offers membership to attorneys and working paralegals. Members receive access to professional resources relating to defense practice as well as regular networking and education opportunities. Legal assistant dues are $15 and qualifying members must be working full-time with a lawyer-member primarily engaged in defense cases in West Virginia.
- Legal Assistants/Paralegals of Southern West Virginia – An affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the Legal Assistants/Paralegals of Southern West Virginia provides its members with networking opportunities, certification guidance, and a members-only jobs board. Annual dues are $40 for active members, $30 for provisional members, and $20 for student members.
- National Capital Area Paralegal Association – Active for over 40 years, the National Capital Area Paralegal Association serves paralegals and legal assistants across the Washington DC metropolitan corridor. Programs that this large organization is able to offer include mentoring programs, scholarships, and a jobs bank. Annual dues are $90 for voting members, $95 for associate members, and $60 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, West Virginia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wv.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/