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October 1, 2017
A look at support staff

Almost half of Florida lawyers using paralegals bill their services at more than $120 per hour

Sixty-one percent of Florida law firms use paralegals and 42 percent of those say their paralegals averaged more than 1,000 billable hours last year, according to The Florida Bar’s 2016 Economics and Law Office Management Survey.

The survey also found that 13 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 or other certified paralegal certificate.

Of those surveyed, 31 percent of those who employ paralegals said that their hourly billing rate is between $81 and $100, while 49 percent report that the billed paralegal hourly rate is more than $120.

A significant number of respondents — 42 percent — said their paralegals averaged more than 1,000 billable hours in 2016, and 28 percent say their paralegals averaged up to 500 billable hours last year.

The median annual salary for paralegals breaks down like this:

• New hires, no experience: $31,000;

• Current paralegals with less than five years of experience: $35,000;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $45,000; and;

• More than 10 years of experience: $50,000.

The median annual salary for legal secretaries breaks down as follows:

• New hires, no experience: $30,000;

• Current legal secretaries with less than five years of experience: $33,000;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $38,000; and

• More than 10 years of experience: $45,000.

• Almost half (49 percent) of respondents report that nonlawyer staff received no annual performance/merit salary increase in 2016, compared to 13 percent who report that nonlawyer staff received an annual performance/merit salary increase of 5 percent or more.

[Revised: 12-08-2017]