West Virginia Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
Our guide is your starting point for learning how to become a paralegal in West Virginia. While there are no statewide standards for paralegals in West Virginia, many jobs in the field require an associate degree or a certificate in paralegal studies. On this page, you will find in-depth information on how to become a West Virginia paralegal, paralegal certification options, career and salary 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
- How to Become a Paralegal in West Virginia
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in West Virginia
Although there are no statewide requirements for West Virginia paralegal certification, 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. Some paralegals and legal assistants within the state begin legal support careers through on-site training offered by employers. Many also choose to pursue voluntary certification to give them a competitive edge in the field.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Paralegals and legal assistants typically complete one of the many paralegal programs in West Virginia to gain a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Though there are no mandated minimum educational requirements, paralegal candidates and legal assistants are strongly encouraged to seek formal education in the field. Currently, there is one paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) in West Virginia.1
2. Gain experience.
Many paralegal programs in West Virginia include on-the-job training, which may be in the form of internships or job shadowing. Gaining real-world experience in the paralegal field can give candidates a competitive advantage when it comes to securing entry-level paralegal jobs. Law firms, government agencies, and corporate in-house legal offices may also offer experiences for paralegal candidates.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Professional paralegal certification is a great way to become more competitive in the job market and can lead to higher salaries. Obtaining certification is voluntary in West Virginia, but it can be highly desirable for employers who are seeking knowledgeable and committed paralegal candidates.
Paralegal Certification in West Virginia
West Virginia defines a paralegal according to the ABA’s definition of paralegal–a qualified person who performs specifically delegated legal work under the direction of a licensed attorney. Though there is no statewide requirement for West Virginia paralegal certification, there are national certification programs that can benefit paralegal candidates. 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 will make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers. The certification examinations offered by these organizations have educational requirements that may be fulfilled by a combination of general education, paralegal education, and experience in the paralegal field.
For more information on national certification, read 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.
West Virginia Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
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 country 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 with five offices in West Virginia. 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. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (West Virginia or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in West Virginia with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Bowles Rice LLP
- Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso PLLC
- Jackson Kelly PLLC
- Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC
- Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
- West Virginia University
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
West Virginia Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in West Virginia from 2018-2028 2
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated 1,590 paralegals and legal assistants working in West Virginia.3 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. Projections Central estimates 12% growth for paralegal and legal assistant jobs nationwide from 2018 to 2028, and job growth for paralegals in West Virginia should be slightly slower, at 10.7% over the same period.2
The average West Virginia paralegal salary was reported at $52,680 in 2020.3 Though this wage is lower than the national average for paralegals and legal assistants at $56,610, this may be partly based on the lower average cost of living in West Virginia.3 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. Paralegals with certification, paralegal education, and experience may be better positioned for higher salaries. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in December 2021.
West Virginia Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed4||Average Annual Salary4|
Paralegal Associations in West Virginia
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.
- Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia (DTCWV): Focuses on the needs of legal professionals associated with the Civil Defense Bar and offers members access to professional resources relating to defense practices as well as regular networking and education opportunities.
- Legal Assistants/Paralegals of Southern West Virginia (LAPSWV): Supports legal assistants and paralegals in southern West Virginia by providing networking opportunities, certification guidance, and a members-only job board.
- National Capital Area Paralegal Association (NCAPA): Serves paralegals and legal assistants across the Washington DC metro area, including parts of West Virginia, by providing mentoring programs, scholarships, and a job bank.
- West Virginia Association for Justice (WVAJ): Provides legal education programs for legal assistants in plaintiffs’ practices through mentorship programs and a members-only paralegal listserv.
- West Virginia State Bar: Offers paralegals and legal assistants access to current legal news, links to state agencies, and a career center with paralegal jobs throughout the state.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: To search for paralegal jobs in West Virginia, be sure to visit our jobs board.
- West Virginia Judiciary: Provides a one-stop portal for all courts in the state’s jurisdiction, from the Supreme Court of Appeals to family courts, and including access to court news, publications, and forms as well as e-filing systems and helpful legal research links.
- West Virginia State Law Library: Houses over 150,000 volumes and volume equivalents, primarly focused on state law, though the library is also a partial Federal Depository Library.
- West Virginia University George R. Farmer Jr. Law Library: The largest law library in West Virginia with over 300,000 print volumes in addition to comprehensive electronic legal resources.
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