Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

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scifiguy
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Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby scifiguy » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:28 pm

I know not all paralegals do, but many do.

Why is that? I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

And then there are lawyers making about $35-40K in many small law firms. What's the reasoning?

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laxbrah420
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby laxbrah420 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:29 pm

Are you fucking stupid? Also, is English not your native language?

Mod: User was warned for this post.

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sinfiery
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby sinfiery » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:33 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:Are you fucking stupid? Also, is English not your native language?

Wow, this isn't a very helpful post. I got some thinking to do before the 4th..



OP, the reason is because some paralegals are more valuable than some lawyers, and some lawyers are more valuable than some paralegals. You cannot judge the value they bring to a firm from just the name of their title. Hope I could help you out, and I do apologize for the behavior of some of the others on this website.

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TripTrip
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby TripTrip » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:57 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:Are you fucking stupid? Also, is English not your native language?

Jackass.

The number of paralegals making $140k is not very high, and a lot of them have stellar experience which got them where they are.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby laxbrah420 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:02 pm

sinfiery wrote:
laxbrah420 wrote:Are you fucking stupid? Also, is English not your native language?

Wow, this isn't a very helpful post. I got some thinking to do before the 4th..



OP, the reason is because some paralegals are more valuable than some lawyers, and some lawyers are more valuable than some paralegals. You cannot judge the value they bring to a firm from just the name of their title. Hope I could help you out, and I do apologize for the behavior of some of the others on this website.

If you can't recognize the importance of helping most users by discouraging individuals from asking terrible questions and consuming valuable resources, I do not expect you to vote for me.

exitoptions
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby exitoptions » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:02 pm

scifiguy wrote:I know not all paralegals do, but many do.

Why is that? I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

And then there are lawyers making about $35-40K in many small law firms. What's the reasoning?


The only paras I know that make this are banking tons of overtime. Lawyers are generally paid a salary with no overtime compensation. Also, the paras making 140 are at big law firms while any lawyer making 35k is at a shit firm. A para at a big firm bills probably twice as much per hour as a lawyer at a shit firm. Clients are paying top dollar because the para is being "directed" by a big law partner (although I seriously doubt their value sometimes).

bdubs
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby bdubs » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:04 pm

Those paralegals all work for firms where the PPP is well over $2 million and the starting salary for new attorneys is $160k+. Everything is more expensive for a client at those firms, including paralegal hours. Some of those extra costs get passed on to the paralegals in higher salaries to ensure that the firm can retain some of the better workers. Some of those paralegals are probably smarter than T1 law grads. Just because salaries for paralegals can be $140k doesn't mean that most are. Paralegal pay is going to track attorney pay somewhat.

The TL;DR version is that there are just as few, if not far fewer, highly paid paralegal positions as there are highly paid attorney positions.

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Captain Hammer
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby Captain Hammer » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:15 pm

scifiguy wrote:I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

In those rare places that pay paralegals this well, attorneys start out at $160K/yr. And that kind of pay is reserved for senior paralegals with years of experience. Paralegals don't make more money than the attorneys they work for.

An experienced paralegal is highly valuable to a firm because the work they can do, they can do more cheaply than an attorney. At a top NYC firm, an experienced paralegal is valuable not just for experience but for having an established track record, allowing them to do more work more quickly with less direct supervision. If you consider bonuses, a fifth-year associate will make over $250K. A paralegal with 10 years of experience can manage a lot of tasks, and be relied on to do their work well, for half that. Which do you think a partner would rather pay for the types of tasks a paralegal can handle?

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IAFG
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby IAFG » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:31 pm

Because God hates sadsituationJD and wants to rub salt in his wounds.

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suralin
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby suralin » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:50 pm

IAFG wrote:Because God hates sadsituationJD and wants to rub salt in his wounds.


TITCR

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magp90
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby magp90 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:14 pm

Paralegals won't be making $100K< at a firm where the attorneys aren't. Trust me. I'm a paralegal at a small firm, and we're not making that. However, career paralegals at huge firms can make a lot of money... but there's no way they're making more than the attorneys at the same place. It's all relative.

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hichvichwoh
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby hichvichwoh » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:18 pm

eh, i'm with laxbrah on this. taking the time to answer "why some people make more money than others" was a waste of time and forum space, which is kind of a feat given the near-zero cost of forum space.

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TripTrip
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby TripTrip » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:23 pm

hichvichwoh wrote:eh, i'm with laxbrah on this. taking the time to answer "why some people make more money than others" was a waste of time and forum space, which is kind of a feat given the near-zero cost of forum space.

There's better ways to go about it than lax did. Besides, this specific forum is specifically for questions about law and law school. Belittling people who ask questions is asinine.

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BlaqBella
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby BlaqBella » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:30 pm

Captain Hammer wrote:
scifiguy wrote:I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

In those rare places that pay paralegals this well, attorneys start out at $160K/yr. And that kind of pay is reserved for senior paralegals with years of experience. Paralegals don't make more money than the attorneys they work for.

An experienced paralegal is highly valuable to a firm because the work they can do, they can do more cheaply than an attorney. At a top NYC firm, an experienced paralegal is valuable not just for experience but for having an established track record, allowing them to do more work more quickly with less direct supervision. If you consider bonuses, a fifth-year associate will make over $250K. A paralegal with 10 years of experience can manage a lot of tasks, and be relied on to do their work well, for half that. Which do you think a partner would rather pay for the types of tasks a paralegal can handle?


+1 with an added caveat: some in-house law departments pay six-figure para salaries for a 9-5 schedule, and that's separate from bonuses. If it wasn't for my personal desire to go to law school, I would have stayed put. Being a para can be a sweet profession so long as your prove yourself. Never regretted choosing this path.

alex.feuerman
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby alex.feuerman » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:45 pm

scifiguy wrote:I know not all paralegals do, but many do.

Why is that? I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

And then there are lawyers making about $35-40K in many small law firms. What's the reasoning?


This is ridiculous, maybe 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000 paralegals make that.
That said, paralegals in NYC can certainly make a lot more money than a lot of lawyers (45-50k) if they are with a good firm. But keep in mind most of the people earning this salary already have impressive internships / previous work experience plus top UG credentials. AND they are just doing it until they go to law school.

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BlaqBella
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby BlaqBella » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:56 pm

alex.feuerman wrote:
scifiguy wrote:I know not all paralegals do, but many do.

Why is that? I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

And then there are lawyers making about $35-40K in many small law firms. What's the reasoning?


This is ridiculous, maybe 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000 paralegals make that.
That said, paralegals in NYC can certainly make a lot more money than a lot of lawyers (45-50k) if they are with a good firm. But keep in mind most of the people earning this salary already have impressive internships / previous work experience plus top UG credentials. AND they are just doing it until they go to law school.



Not necessarily true (re bolded). And that 45-50k is usually a base salary, separate from OT/bonuses at a typical NYC law firm.

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jkpolk
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby jkpolk » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:08 pm

TripTrip wrote:
hichvichwoh wrote:eh, i'm with laxbrah on this. taking the time to answer "why some people make more money than others" was a waste of time and forum space, which is kind of a feat given the near-zero cost of forum space.

There's better ways to go about it than lax did. Besides, this specific forum is specifically for questions about law and law school. Belittling people who ask questions is asinine.

no one cares about your butthurt

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armenazo
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby armenazo » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:46 pm

Captain Hammer wrote:
scifiguy wrote:I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

A paralegal with 10 years of experience can manage a lot of tasks, and be relied on to do their work well, for half that. Which do you think a partner would rather pay for the types of tasks a paralegal can handle?


TCR. General Counsel's know what kinds of tasks can be performed by supporting staff and what kinds of tasks must be performed by attorneys at bigfirms. Firm's lose clients by staffing simple projects to $350-$800/hour lawyers.

When I first started working at my bigfirm, I was told that only lawyers can perform the following tasks: (1) set fees, (2) argue before a judge, (3) give legal advice. Everything else in the legal profession can be performed by non-lawyers at a fraction of the cost. Staff who do these tasks well are paid accordingly.

Although, I'm not sure I know any paralegal's who make as much as you think. It's possible, but I'd imagine that salary is probably an end of career kind of pay scale.

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scifiguy
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby scifiguy » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:44 am

armenazo wrote:
Captain Hammer wrote:
scifiguy wrote:I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

A paralegal with 10 years of experience can manage a lot of tasks, and be relied on to do their work well, for half that. Which do you think a partner would rather pay for the types of tasks a paralegal can handle?


TCR. General Counsel's know what kinds of tasks can be performed by supporting staff and what kinds of tasks must be performed by attorneys at bigfirms. Firm's lose clients by staffing simple projects to $350-$800/hour lawyers.

When I first started working at my bigfirm, I was told that only lawyers can perform the following tasks: (1) set fees, (2) argue before a judge, (3) give legal advice. Everything else in the legal profession can be performed by non-lawyers at a fraction of the cost. Staff who do these tasks well are paid accordingly.

Although, I'm not sure I know any paralegal's who make as much as you think. It's possible, but I'd imagine that salary is probably an end of career kind of pay scale.



Right, I read that it was senior paralegals who make $100K+ and with overtime reaching up to $140K sometimes in biglaw firms in NYC.

I understand that biglaw affiliation scales the pay upwards for paralegals, but is their actual work anymore mentally demanding than a paralegal working in a smaller law firm? Sort of just curious if it's the type of work done that merits the higher pay?

It seems that with smaller firms in smaller areas that $40K is about what they are paid and can top out at $70-80K. Not too bad either if in a low cost of living area.

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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby WanderingPondering » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:21 am

scifiguy wrote:
armenazo wrote:
Captain Hammer wrote:
scifiguy wrote:I've read that paralegals can make as high as $140K in NYC.

A paralegal with 10 years of experience can manage a lot of tasks, and be relied on to do their work well, for half that. Which do you think a partner would rather pay for the types of tasks a paralegal can handle?


TCR. General Counsel's know what kinds of tasks can be performed by supporting staff and what kinds of tasks must be performed by attorneys at bigfirms. Firm's lose clients by staffing simple projects to $350-$800/hour lawyers.

When I first started working at my bigfirm, I was told that only lawyers can perform the following tasks: (1) set fees, (2) argue before a judge, (3) give legal advice. Everything else in the legal profession can be performed by non-lawyers at a fraction of the cost. Staff who do these tasks well are paid accordingly.

Although, I'm not sure I know any paralegal's who make as much as you think. It's possible, but I'd imagine that salary is probably an end of career kind of pay scale.



Right, I read that it was senior paralegals who make $100K+ and with overtime reaching up to $140K sometimes in biglaw firms in NYC.

I understand that biglaw affiliation scales the pay upwards for paralegals, but is their actual work anymore mentally demanding than a paralegal working in a smaller law firm? Sort of just curious if it's the type of work done that merits the higher pay?

It seems that with smaller firms in smaller areas that $40K is about what they are paid and can top out at $70-80K. Not too bad either if in a low cost of living area.


Its the exact same scenerio as an established nurse who works in the brain trauma center of an elite hospital in a major metropolitan area making more money than a small town doctor who does little besides checking the height, weight, and heart rate of kids and giving them a lolly pop when they leave.

Certainly you understand why the nurse in my example gets paid more than the doctor. Then you should be able to understand the obvious answer to your question.

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armenazo
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby armenazo » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:09 pm

scifiguy wrote:Right, I read that it was senior paralegals who make $100K+ and with overtime reaching up to $140K sometimes in biglaw firms in NYC.

I understand that biglaw affiliation scales the pay upwards for paralegals, but is their actual work anymore mentally demanding than a paralegal working in a smaller law firm? Sort of just curious if it's the type of work done that merits the higher pay?

It seems that with smaller firms in smaller areas that $40K is about what they are paid and can top out at $70-80K. Not too bad either if in a low cost of living area.


I've worked in a small firm as a paralegal, and currently work in a big firm as technology support, so I think I can address your questions.

I'd say that paralegals in small firms and paralegals in big firms work about as much. However, one pernicious requirement that has developed in the last couple years is paralegals in big firms are usually required to bill ~1,500-1,800 hours. I call it pernicious because associates are bonused generously upon meeting requirements like these, but paralegals usually are not. The work is usually not any more intellectually demanding, except in certain matters (dealing with Federal and Appellate courts) - but that work is usually handled by associates, so it doesn't really matter.

The pay scales, on the whole, are fairly identical. The only difference is that bigger firms have more senior roles, while smaller firms do not. Additionally, I think it would be helpful to untangle the web of the kinds of paralegals you'll find in big firms:

Administrative Assistant: Entry-level position, responsible for assisting other paralegals, hours are normally 9-5, pay ~30k-35k.

Legal Secretary: Processes attorney correspondence, responsible for transcription, etc., hours are normally 9-5, pay ~50k-80k.

Litigation/Corporate Paralegal: Assists in drafting of pleadings, discovery, correspondence, etc., probably in the office around 45-55 hours/week, pay ~40-50k (usually around 60k with overtime.)

Trial Paralegal: Experienced paralegal who accompanies partners to trial, hours are normally insane (think 60-80 hours/week), pay ~50k (usually around 70k with overtime.)

Senior Litigation Paralegal: More of an administrative role, in charge of the other paralegals, called on to draft substantial pleadings/discovery with a cost-conscious client, hours are normally 9-5, pay around 100k-120k.

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paratactical
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby paratactical » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:24 pm

.
Last edited by paratactical on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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armenazo
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby armenazo » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:35 pm

paratactical wrote:
armenazo wrote:
scifiguy wrote:Right, I read that it was senior paralegals who make $100K+ and with overtime reaching up to $140K sometimes in biglaw firms in NYC.

I understand that biglaw affiliation scales the pay upwards for paralegals, but is their actual work anymore mentally demanding than a paralegal working in a smaller law firm? Sort of just curious if it's the type of work done that merits the higher pay?

It seems that with smaller firms in smaller areas that $40K is about what they are paid and can top out at $70-80K. Not too bad either if in a low cost of living area.


I've worked in a small firm as a paralegal, and currently work in a big firm as technology support, so I think I can address your questions.

I'd say that paralegals in small firms and paralegals in big firms work about as much. However, one pernicious requirement that has developed in the last couple years is paralegals in big firms are usually required to bill ~1,500-1,800 hours. I call it pernicious because associates are bonused generously upon meeting requirements like these, but paralegals usually are not. The work is usually not any more intellectually demanding, except in certain matters (dealing with Federal and Appellate courts) - but that work is usually handled by associates, so it doesn't really matter.

The pay scales, on the whole, are fairly identical. The only difference is that bigger firms have more senior roles, while smaller firms do not. Additionally, I think it would be helpful to untangle the web of the kinds of paralegals you'll find in big firms:

Administrative Assistant: Entry-level position, responsible for assisting other paralegals, hours are normally 9-5, pay ~30k-35k.

Legal Secretary: Processes attorney correspondence, responsible for transcription, etc., hours are normally 9-5, pay ~50k-80k.

Litigation/Corporate Paralegal: Assists in drafting of pleadings, discovery, correspondence, etc., probably in the office around 45-55 hours/week, pay ~40-50k (usually around 60k with overtime.)

Trial Paralegal: Experienced paralegal who accompanies partners to trial, hours are normally insane (think 60-80 hours/week), pay ~50k (usually around 70k with overtime.)

Senior Paralegal: More of an administrative role, in charge of the other paralegals, called on to draft substantial pleadings/discovery with a cost-conscious client, hours are normally 9-5, pay around 100k-120k.


Your break down of paralegal roles is not at all similar to what I experienced in my NYC and Boston BIGLAW firms. I've never seen a biglaw group that had one set of paralegals working on a case pre-trial and then another set for the trial. In my experience, you get staffed on a case and you follow it through from complaint to trial or from pre-offer research to final deal. I've never heard of litigation paralegals that don't go to trial if their case goes to trial or of corporate paralegals that don't attend closing if they've been staffed on a deal.

I also heartily dispute the idea that there's a whole group of senior paralegals that work 9-5s. There are middle management people that supervise paralegals that do get 9-5ish work but they are generally not called paralegals and do not do any paralegal work, like drafting pleadings. In my experience, senior paralegals in big firms tend to have a case load that they are in charge of and that they do paralegal work on, and they have junior paralegals that assist them as directed. Senior paralegals get to direct tasks, so they don't always work the hell hours the juniors get pushed into, but they certainly don't have a 9-5 and are, at the bottom line, responsible for the work product, so they often work similar hours, especially during trials or a closing.

And, scifiguy, as a paralegal who has worked both in major city biglaw and at a smaller office, I think the work certainly merits higher pay in biglaw, but that's more about the demanding hours and the serious atoll having to be ready to work all weekend when being asked on Friday at 5:45pm can be on you mentally and socially.


I work in Southern California, not NY. Additionally, my firm is very, very, very bifurcated in the way they approach tasks: only certain kinds of employees are permitted to perform certain kinds of tasks. Entry to midlevel paralegals are not called upon (and likely not trusted), to accompany attorneys to trial.

Also, I should reemphasize: I'm not, strictly speaking, a "paralegal" in my big firm, I'm just speaking based off observation.

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calverna
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby calverna » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:58 pm

paratactical wrote:Your break down of paralegal roles is not at all similar to what I experienced in my NYC and Boston BIGLAW firms. I've never seen a biglaw group that had one set of paralegals working on a case pre-trial and then another set for the trial. In my experience, you get staffed on a case and you follow it through from complaint to trial or from pre-offer research to final deal. I've never heard of litigation paralegals that don't go to trial if their case goes to trial or of corporate paralegals that don't attend closing if they've been staffed on a deal.

I also heartily dispute the idea that there's a whole group of senior paralegals that work 9-5s. There are middle management people that supervise paralegals that do get 9-5ish work but they are generally not called paralegals and do not do any paralegal work, like drafting pleadings. In my experience, senior paralegals in big firms tend to have a case load that they are in charge of and that they do paralegal work on, and they have junior paralegals that assist them as directed. Senior paralegals get to direct tasks, so they don't always work the hell hours the juniors get pushed into, but they certainly don't have a 9-5 and are, at the bottom line, responsible for the work product, so they often work similar hours, especially during trials or a closing.

And, scifiguy, as a paralegal who has worked both in major city biglaw and at a smaller office, I think the work certainly merits higher pay in biglaw, but that's more about the demanding hours and the serious atoll having to be ready to work all weekend when being asked on Friday at 5:45pm can be on you mentally and socially.


As a litigation paralegal at a V50 firm I second this. I'm the junior guy and so work rougher hours (lower billable rate means more gets pushed to me), but even the Senior Paralegals put in the long hours when push comes to shove on their cases--and 9 to 5 days are rare across the board.

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John Mill
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Re: Why do paralegals make more $ than lawyers?

Postby John Mill » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:55 pm

hichvichwoh wrote:eh, i'm with laxbrah on this. taking the time to answer "why some people make more money than others" was a waste of time and forum space, which is kind of a feat given the near-zero cost of forum space.

It's only a waste of time if somebody responds to it while their time would be better spent doing something else. You saw the title of this post, if you're too busy to be wasting your time answering things like this, and yet you still clicked on it, then it's your own fault that your time got wasted.




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