Paralegal

New York Resources

OneWorldTradeCenterHere are some helpful resources for the State of New York:

New York Division of Corporation

New York State Department of State

UCC Search

State Bar of New York

State Courts
Here is a link to New York State Unified Court System that provides structure and links to the different levels of its courts:
Federal Courts:
USDC Northern District of New York
USDC Southern District of New York
USDC Eastern District of New York
USDC Western District of New York

Bankruptcy Courts:
Northern District
Southern District
Eastern District
Western District

Federal Appellate Court:
2nd Circuit

How to Become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?

The titles Paralegal and Legal Assistant are often used interchangeably. They are one and the same because both designations refer to individuals who, through training and education are qualified, and able to provide and deliver legal services under the supervision of lawyers. More importantly, paralegals or legal assistants provide such legal services at a more cost-effective rate for the lawyers’ clients.

There are various ways to become a paralegal or legal assistant:

  1. 2-year Associate’s degree;
  2. 4-year Bachelor’s degree; or
  3. Certificate in Paralegal Studies.

A 2-year Associate’s degree, whether Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies is the most commonly pursued qualification by those who desire a shorter and inexpensive route to becoming a paralegal or legal assistant. Most 2-year programs require between 60 and 70 credit hours. It is usually quite intense and students acquire the required knowledge from textbooks as well as hands-on legal research, and some training in document database software programs. Receiving instruction in technology is an important part of your paralegal education and training. Though the legal profession is still relatively conservative and “old-school,” lawyers and law firms understand and value the importance of incorporating technology into their practice. So, insure that your program includes some current legal software training.  I plan to post an article on legal software and technology in the coming weeks, so check back for update.

book stack
Since the last several years, colleges now offer an undergraduate program in Paralegal Studies. Due to the rise in demand for paralegals or legal assistants, colleges now find it viable to offer such a program, and it has quickly become sought after by would-be paralegals, as well as current paralegals who desire to stay competitive in the job market.

What if I already have an undergraduate qualification, but in a different field?

If you have an undergraduate degree in a different field, you can elect to obtain your paralegal qualification through the certificate program. Since you have already completed the general education courses, and business courses, the certificate program covers mainly the legal courses. Certificate programs require from 20 to 24 credit hours to complete or from 45 to 50 credit hours. I encourage you to look at the program and compare the differences between the curriculum from one college to another, and not simply focused on the shortest completion. It is important to receive essential training to help you achieve your goal.

 

How Much Money Does a Paralegal or Legal Assistant Make?

MH900442163[1]One common question many people ask is, how much money does a Paralegal make? Generally, the amount of money a paralegal or legal assistant makes depends on several factors.  Here is a short list of factors that could impact a legal assistant or paralegal’s base salary:

  1. Geographic location;
  2. Experience and accomplishments;
  3. Area of law;
  4. Education and training.
  • Geographic location

Without taking into consideration one’s experience, area of law, or education and training, geographic location chiefly determines the difference in the base and mean salary of a paralegal or legal assistant from coast to coast.  For example, a paralegal in New York City or Los Angeles is going to make more money than a paralegal or legal assistant in smaller cities in the Southern region or Midwest region.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the annual mean salary of paralegals in Washington D.C. as the highest. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm

On average, a paralegal with minimal experience in New York City, New York can possibly make $55,000 to $70,000, and those with more than 10 years’ experience can possibly make from $80,000 to $100,000.  In Los Angeles, California a paralegal or legal assistant with minimal experience may possibly make $46,000 to $62,000; and those with more than 10 years’ experience may possibly make $70,000 to $95,000.  The salary range of Los Angeles, California paralegals  is also close to the national average.  http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/Paralegal-IV-Salary-Details-Los-Angeles-CA.aspx

  • Experience

A paralegal’s experience in the area of practice also plays an important part in salary determination. Say, a paralegal who has over 10 years’ experience in real estate decides to switch his/her area to probate and estate planning. While he/she has over 10 years’ experience in the real estate practice group, this paralegal has minimal to no experience in probate and estate planning. If the move is made within the same law firm, then quite certainly his/her pay is going to remain unchanged; but if the paralegal or legal assistant move to another firm, he/she can more than likely see a reduction in pay for lack of experience in the new area of practice.

  • Area of law

The area of law a paralegal or legal assistant is working in also makes a difference in salary paid. Certain areas of law are more specialized and more complex, and therefore a paralegal can and should expect a higher salary.

  • Education and training

Another area that strongly influences a paralegal or legal assistant’s salary is education and training. Those who have an Associate’s of Art (AA) or Associate’s of Science (AS) degree in Paralegal Studies or those who hold a Bachelor’s degree are better compensated than those who learned on the job or who transitioned to a paralegal position from a legal secretarial position.

I have a blog post that briefly discusses how one can become a paralegal.  Please feel free to check it out.

Welcome to Paralegal Base

I have been a paralegal or legal assistant for over twenty years, and I am still very passionate about the work that I do. I am certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”) and I also hold an advanced certification or specialty from NALA in the area of civil litigation. Additionally, I have a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from Alliant International University, San Diego, California. Prior to my NALA certifications, I obtained an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies. It is amazing how much the field has expanded and evolved since I went to paralegal school.

After more than two decades, I am still very excited about the career — so much so, I have decided to develop a website dedicated to facilitating and discussing it. Besides providing a discussion forum, this website also provides those who visit with resource tools. Paralegalbase.com is still relatively new and the team is working to provide resource tools for all 50 states.  (An exciting update—resource links for all 50 states are now in place!)

New exciting update—for all my Canadian readers or visitors, I have now provided links to Canadian Courts of the Provinces on Paralegal Base as well.  Select “Other Resources” and you will find it!

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