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Survey looks at paralegal salaries

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Sixty-two percent of Florida law firms use paralegals and 51 percent of those say their paralegals averaged more than 1,000 billable hours last year, according to The Florida Bar’s 2018 Economics and Law Office Management Survey.

artwork of attorneysThe survey also found that 16 percent of respondents who work in firms with paralegals report their offices require certain standards or certifications of their paralegals. The most often reported hiring standards included inclusion in The Florida Bar’s Florida Registered Paralegal program and passage of the Certified Legal Assistant exam or other certified paralegal certificate.

Of those surveyed, 25 percent of respondents who employ paralegals said that their hourly billing rate is between $81 and $100, while 53 percent report that the billed paralegal hourly rate is more than $120.

A significant number of respondents — 51 percent — said their paralegals averaged more than 1,000 billable hours in 2018. One-quarter say their paralegals averaged up to 500 billable hours last year and 16 percent billed more than 1,500 hours in 2018.

The median annual salary for paralegals statewide breaks down like this:

• New hires, no experience: $35,000;

• Current paralegals with less than five years of experience: $40,000;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $50,000; and;

• More than 10 years of experience: $55,000.

The median annual salary for paralegals in the Northern Region looks like this:

• New hires, no experience: $30,000;

• Current paralegals with less than five years of experience: $32,000;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $37,500; and;

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

The median annual salary for paralegals in the Central/Southwestern region

breaks down like this:

• New hires, no experience: $35,000;

• Current paralegals with less than five years of experience: $38,000;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $49,000; and;

• More than 10 years of experience: $55,000.

And here is a look at the median annual salary for paralegals in the Southeast region:

• New hires, no experience: $36,000;

• Current paralegals with less than five years of experience: $45,000;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $50,000; and;

• More than 10 years of experience: $60,000.

The survey also asked about the median annual salary for legal secretaries and found:

• New hires, no experience: $30,000;

• Current legal secretaries with less than five years of experience: $34,500;

• Five to 10 years of experience: $40,000; and

• More than 10 years of experience: $47,500.

Forty-one percent of respondents report that nonlawyer staff received no annual performance/merit salary increase in 2018, compared to 18 percent who report that nonlawyer staff received an annual performance/merit salary increase of 5 percent or more.