Slightly more than half of Florida law firms use paralegals and 45 percent of those say their paralegals averaged more than 1,000 billable hours last year, according to The Florida Bar’s 2012 Economics and Law Office Management Survey.
Fifty-six percent of respondents reported working in firms that employ paralegals, up 2 percent from 2010, but still less than 63 percent in 2008 and 2006 — when the percentage was at its highest — at 66 percent.
The survey also found that 15 percent of respondents who work in firms with paralegals report their offices require certain standards or certifications of their paralegals. The most oft-reported hiring standards included inclusion in the Florida Registered Paralegal program and passage of the Certified Legal Assistant exam.
Of those surveyed, 34 percent of those who employ paralegals said that their hourly billing rate is between $81 and $100, while 31 percent report that the billed paralegal hourly rate is more than $120.
A significant number of respondents — 45 percent — said their paralegals averaged more than 1,000 billable hours in 2012, and 37 percent say their paralegals averaged 500 or less billable hours last year.
The median annual salary for paralegals breaks down like this:
* New hires, no experience: $30,000;
* Current paralegals with less than five years experience: $32,000;
* Five to 10 years experience: $42,000; and
* More than 10 years experience: $50,000.
The median annual salary for legal secretaries breaks down as follows:
* New hires, no experience: $25,000;
* Current legal secretaries with less than five years experience: $30,000;
* Five to 10 years experience: $35,000; and
* More than 10 years experience: $40,000.
The median annual salary for other support staff includes:
* Full-time office manager/legal administrator: $60,000;
* Bookkeeper or controller (full-time): $45,000;
* Law clerk: $25,000;
* Bookkeeper (part-time): $23,500;
* Information technology administrator: $50,000.