New York

Steps Toward a Paralegal Career in New York

Follow the step by step process on how to become a paralegal below:

  1. Achieve Paralegal Education in New York
  2. Seek Paralegal Experience in New York
  3. Become a New York State Certified Paralegal in the Future
  4. Pursue Paralegal Jobs in New York
  5. Now That You’re a Paralegal in New York

Paralegal Job Description in New York

The Empire State has the fourth-highest concentration of jobs for paralegals and legal assistants in the United States as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. That year, there were 23,890 paralegals and legal assistants working in New York, averaging a mean wage of $53,570. If you would like to find out how to become one of them, read on.

Step 1

Achieve Paralegal Education in New York

The ESAPA notes that if you wish to enter the paralegal profession in New York, you should have an associate degree or higher in paralegal studies. It says that possessing a degree in another field does not prepare you to work in the paralegal field in New York.

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Although the legislators of New York have yet to set education standards for paralegals in New York, the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations (ESAPA) has recommended that they be established. In its Position Statement on Paralegal Education Standards in New York State, the organization outlines what it thinks should be educational requirements for paralegals in New York. These are the educational criteria that they say potential employers of New York paralegals seek in new employees. Therefore, it is recommended that you, as a prospective paralegal in New York, follow these recommendations as well.

There are two types of paralegal programs in New York – those approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and those not approved. The ESAPA recommends attending an ABA-approved paralegal program, as it helps prepare you more thoroughly to work as a paralegal in New York, although approval is not mandatory. ABA-approved programs in New York include:

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Step 2

Seek Paralegal Experience in New York

Your paralegal program in New York should offer you the opportunity to gain paralegal work experience while still a student. If it does not, you should seek out such an experience on your own. A good place to start looking is within the many legal aids and pro bono legal associations across New York. These organizations will usually welcome the volunteer help of a paralegal student, while you will gain valuable experience providing to others less fortunate than you. Such organizations are:

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Step 3

Become a New York Certified Paralegal

National certification is optional for paralegals in New York. However, the ESAPA promotes certification for New York Paralegals. In its general information paper, Paralegal Regulation in New York State, it proposes the idea of establishing a New York State Certified Paralegal program. If approved, paralegals would have to meet one of the following criteria in order to become an NYS Certified Paralegal:

  • Be a currently certified or licensed paralegal in another state
  • Be a Certified Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants or pass the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
  • Graduate from an ABA-approved paralegal studies program
  • Graduate from a non-ABA approved paralegal studies program meeting the criteria in Step 1 above
  • Graduate with an associate or bachelor degree in paralegal studies
  • Graduate with a bachelor degree in any field and two years of paralegal experience
  • Graduate with an associate degree in any field plus three years of paralegal experience
  • Have eight years of full-time paralegal work experience plus a high school diploma

This proposal was submitted in 2010 and as of January 2014 has not yet been adopted by the state of New York.

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Step 4

Pursue Paralegal Jobs in New York

New York is home to many international corporations, quality academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and law firms, all of which hire paralegals as needed. Examples of recent employers of paralegals in New York include:

  • JPMorgan Chase – Brooklyn
  • Blackstone – New York
  • Aneli Xavier – Buffalo
  • American International Group – New York
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP – New York
  • M&T Bank Corporation – Buffalo
  • Legal Aid Society – New York
  • Garvey, Tirelli & Cushner, Ltd. – White Plains
  • National Guard- Auburn
  • Estee Lauder Companies – New York
  • Syracuse University – Syracuse

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Step 5

Now That You’re a Paralegal in New York

Kudos! You are now a paralegal qualified to work in the Empire State! Think about joining an association of other paralegals and legal assistants within the state or in your area. They include:

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