While salaries aren't rising like they did in apex years, the legal job market is thawing and compensation is slowly climbing back from previous levels, according to Paralegal Today magazine's 19th Annual Salary Survey, published in its April/June 2011 issue.
The survey, which drew paralegal participants from across the country, reports that the national average salary for law firm paralegals in 2010 was $50,730, a 1.3% increase from 2009 while corporate paralegal salaries rose to $63,566, a 1.7% rise from the previous year. The highest reported full-time salary was $152,500 while the lowest annual salary was $14,400.
In addition to a small bump in salary, many paralegals are also seeing a rise in caseloads, another positive sign of recovery, the survey reports.
Only half of paralegals received a raise in 2010 (up from less than half in 2009). The average raise was $2,684 in 2010 while the largest reported raise was $15,000.
According to the survey, top-earning paralegal specialties for law firm paralegals in 2010 were: municipal law (with an average salary of $71,254), energy law ($68,000), tax ($64,350), workers' compensation ($63,742) and commercial law ($63,360). The lowest paying paralegal specialties were family law ($35,512), criminal ($37,003) and personal injury ($45,576).
For those working in a corporate legal setting, the most highly compensated specialties in 2010 were mergers and acquisitions ($94,096), real estate ($89,822) and corporate governance ($73,562).
The survey also revealed several trends in the legal industry:
- the outsourcing of legal work;
- flexible work arrangements;
- associate-level work tasks; and
- a growing distinction between "paralegals" and "legal assistants."
As we emerge from one of the worst legal climates in history, paralegals will hopefully continue to see an uptick in employment and compensation. Today, everyone is looking at the bottom line. Paralegals who generate revenue for their firm and keep their skills fresh in a changing legal market will have the greatest earning power.
For a copy of the salary survey issue, contact Sherry McCoy at Conexion International Media: email@example.com.
Wondering if you are fairly compensated? Learn about compensation in the legal industry and check out these salary resources. If you find you are undercompensated, review these tips on how to ask for a raise.