Become a Paralegal in New York

According to the May 2012 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of paralegal positions nationwide is expected to grow. Combine this with the facts that the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Division has the highest level of employment of paralegals and legal assistants, and that New York state employs the highest level of paralegals of any state in the United States, and the outlook for paralegals in the state is bright.

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Nearly 24,000 paralegals and assistants were employed in New York in 2013, with an average hourly wage of $25.76. The annual mean wage was a healthy $53,570, but paralegals with choice positions, often working overtime, earned salaries as high as $77,320. Even a paralegal working part time could earn $32,890.

New York Paralegal Certification

Although the New York State Bar Association has developed guidelines for the utilization of paralegals and paralegal assistants, there is currently no mandatory certification. Further information on the title and role of paralegals be found at the New York State Bar Association website for example:

  • Opinion 640 Titles of paralegals employed by lawyers may not be false or misleading.
  • Ethic Opinion 343 Paralegals may not supervise the execution of a will.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in New York

Paralegal Certificates

  • Finger Lakes Community College

    Located in Canandaigua, New York, Finger Lakes Community College’s paralegal certificate program is designed for individuals who have already attained an associate degree or higher. This course of study was developed to meet the American Bar Association’s guidelines and covers the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary in today’s office environments. Students complete one of two capstone courses: an internship or “Law Office Practice,” in which students put real-world skills into practice in a mock office environment. This 33 credit hour program is designed to be completed within one year. 

    • Estimated Program Cost: $4,752 for state residents; $8,504 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: Associate or bachelor’s degree with at least 18 liberal arts credits
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Legal Practice
    • Computers in the Law Office
    • Real Property Law and Practice
    • Courts and Litigation
  • Hofstra University

    Hofstra University, located in Hempstead, New York, offers a paralegal Certificate Program with both day and evening classes. Students can take part in voluntary internships and benefit from job placement services and access to the university’s law library. This non-credit program can be completed in as few as six months. Courses are taught by judges and attorneys and faculty mentors assure that students get individualized attention in working toward their career goals.

    • Estimated Program Cost*: $5,685 (based on 2013 published website information)
    • Prerequisite: Associate degree or 60 college credits
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Berkeley College of New York City

    Berkeley College of New York City‘s Associate Science Degree in Legal Studies is a 90 credit hour curriculum offered at the school’s Brooklyn, New York City, Dover, Newark, Woodbridge and Woodland Park campuses, as well as online. This course of study emphasizes theoretical and practical law, analytical thinking and research and writing skills. The faculty includes experienced attorneys from the fields of litigation and corporate law, as well as from the government sector.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $47,252 (based on 2014 per credit hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus or online

    Sample required courses:

    • Expository Writing
    • Computer Applications
    • Business Organization and Management
    • Legal Research
    • Introduction to Law and the American Legal System
    • Legal Ethics and Professional Values
  • Genesee Community College

    Genesee Community College offers a relatively affordable Associate of Science in paralegal studies. This program teaches critical thinking, analytical skills and ethical standards; covers intake interviews, preliminary investigation, use of research tools and online data banks; and gives students a strong basic knowledge of general and specialty law. Students can take day, afternoon or night courses that fit with their schedules, and can benefit from internships and other hands-on learning opportunities.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $7,400 for state residents; $8,600 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per semester tuition for four semesters)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent; two years each of high school math and science and preferably a foreign language; SAT, ACT or Genesee Community College’s Compass placement test; GPA requirements also apply.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Hilbert College

    Hilbert College, in Hamburg, New York has been offering a paralegal studies program since 1977 and is a Charter Member of the American Association for Paralegal Education. Its 120 credit hour, four-year Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies program combines theory and practical skills, and allows students to select a concentration in business/corporate law, child and family law, litigation or research and writing.

    • Estimated Program Cost*: $77,200 (based on 2013-2014 tuition rates per semester)
    • Prerequisites: Admission is based upon past academic performance, demonstrated ability and personal characteristics.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: Hybrid – On-line/On-campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Public Speaking
    • Computer Technology Skills
    • Litigation
    • Legal Research
  • New York City College of Technology at CUNY

    Located on Jay Street in Brooklyn, New York City College of Technology offers a 120 credit hour Bachelor of Science in legal assistant studies that pairs a solid liberal arts foundation with law specialty courses. In addition to classroom learning and an internship, students have opportunities to give back to the community while getting real-world experience by joining the faculty in pro bono work in an elder clinic, immigration clinic and divorce clinic.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $22,920 for residents; $61,200 for non-residents (based on 2013-2014 tuition rates per semester for residents and per credit hour tuition for out-of-state students)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

Additional Paralegal Education

Professional Organizations

  • The New York City Paralegal Association focuses on education, networking opportunities, proficiency standards and professional recognition. It helps members keep up-to-date with changes in the legal profession and learn new skills and technologies.
  • The Paralegal Association of Rochester belongs to both the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations (ESAPA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Members have access to colleagues within legal professions, can attend networking events and can take part in continuing legal education
  • The Western New York Paralegal Association promotes the professional development and continuing legal education of paralegals in the western New York area, and is a member of ESAPA and NFPA. Members can take advantage of networking and continuing education opportunities and have access to the association’s online job bank.