How to Become a Corporate Paralegal

Embarking on a career as a paralegal, particularly in the corporate sector, can be a highly fulfilling journey.

Contrary to the common perception of paralegals working in law firms, corporate paralegals operate in a business environment, assisting corporations with their legal affairs.

Corporate Paralegal

If you’ve ever aspired to become a corporate paralegal, we’re here to guide you through the steps that can lead to this rewarding profession.

What Is a Corporate Paralegal?

As a corporate paralegal, you’d be tasked with handling corporate filings, maintaining company records, and including stockholder lists.

Essentially, a corporate paralegal will handle legal matters related to the business.

This can range from contracts, patents, trademarks, etc.

Corporate paralegals spend most of their time handling paperwork, sorting records, and ensuring everything is legal.

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However, paralegals won’t be working alone.

Since paralegals only have specific training, they must work underneath a corporate lawyer.

Steps to Become a Corporate Paralegal

Like other professions, a paralegal must attend a paralegal program that a state bar association approves.

Each state has its requirements and associations that are accepted, and requirements may need to be met before becoming licensed.

After attending a program, paralegal students must complete on-the-job training working alongside a lawyer.

Alternatively, some states don’t require certification and anyone can work as a paralegal and gain training on the job.

However, becoming certified is often recommended, as it ensures competency.

Below, we’ll provide all the steps you’ll need to take to become a corporate paralegal.

Step 1: Check State Requirements

The first step to becoming a corporate paralegal is to check state licensing requirements.

Not every state will have the exact requirements, so knowing what type of education and training you’ll need is essential.

Once you find the state’s requirements, you can apply for a paralegal program at your chosen college.

Step 2: Applying to College

To become a paralegal, you must first get an associate’s degree.

After that, you will need to attend an ABA-approved paralegal program.

Paralegal programs vary in length but generally are at the associate or bachelor’s level.

This is equivalent to an average of four to six semester credits.

Step 3: Complete Necessary Coursework

Completing coursework is the next step.

Students must ensure that they maintain a good standing with their college and pass the minimum grade requirements.

If working in corporate law, students should attend extracurricular courses that provide education on corporate law.

Once students complete the program, they will be rewarded with a degree or certificate.

Step 4: Get Work Experience As a Paralegal

The next step for a paralegal is to gain experience by working in their selected field.

They will need to apply to work under a lawyer, and it’s best to gain experience working under a corporate lawyer.

Since paralegals will be unlicensed at this point, it can be beneficial to work under any lawyer to gain a broad spectrum of knowledge of the law.

After that, finding a corporate paralegal p[position can help them narrow their expertise.

In general, a bar association will require paralegals to gain at least 3,000 hours of paralegal work experience.

Once that is accumulated, then the paralegal can apply to take the bar exam.

Three exams must be passed to gain certification: the Paralegal Core Competency (PCC) Exam, the Practice Area Exam, and the Professional Responsibility Exam.

Each exam ensures that paralegals are familiar with the state laws and requirements.

Step 5 (Optional): Waived Option

Another option is to get an LLLT Waiver Option, which allows paralegals to waive the associate’s degree, 45 credits, and PCC Exam if they have 10 years of law-related experience.

These hours must be working under the supervision of a lawyer, and the credential must be sponsored by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPS).

Step 6: Become a Certified Paralegal

Students will then need to apply to take a certificate exam offered by certifying organizations of paralegals (listed later in the article).

They must pass the exam and all other requirements, such as accrued hours, before being awarded their certificate.

There are multiple certificates to apply to, and students must determine which their state will accept.

Step 7: Work as a Corporate Paralegal

After gaining certification, students can either pursue higher education or work as corporate paralegals.

Finding job opportunities may require networking or attending job fairs.

That said, once they find a corporate position under a registered lawyer, they can then begin work as corporate paralegals.

Licensing Requirements to Become

Depending on their state of residency, paralegals may be able to work as legal assistants without a certificate or degree.

However, this requirement changes by state.

States that do require certification will require that paralegals undergo mandatory licensing to work professionally.

To be a paralegal, you should meet the minimum requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be an official resident of a state
  • Be a United States resident
  • Completion of High School or GED program

Here are the different types of paralegal certificates:

  • Certified Paralegal (CP)
  • Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC)
  • Professional Paralegal (PP) Certification
  • Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) Certification
  • Professional Legal Secretary/Certified Legal Professional (PLS/CLP) Certification
  • Legal Document Assistant (LDA) Certification

Each certificate program must be provided by one of the certifying paralegal organizations.

This includes the following:

  • National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
  • American Alliance of Paralegals Inc. (AAP)
  • The Association for Legal Professionals
  • National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
  • National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS)

In addition, some states may require that paralegals work strictly under lawyers and gain additional hours until they become competent.

This may require paralegals to work in general law before applying for a corporate position.

Online Training Programs

While training isn’t mandatory, becoming certified is best to help boost your career.

There are a lot of aspects of corporate law, and you must have proper training.

Generally, students will need a minimum of a certificate program or an associate.

Below, we’ll provide a few online training programs for the paralegal profession.

Campus, MTI College

Campus (MTI College)

Campus is an online school that provides a wide range of certificate programs.

Their paralegal program has four start dates each year and is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Students will need to complete 48 weeks of coursework and be able to pay tuition of $39,115.76.

There is tuition assistance for those who qualify.

Ashworth College

Ashworth College offers a fully online four-semester associate degree in Paralegal Studies.

Students must also pay tuition, but they are offered flexible payment options.

They can choose to pay fully for $1,299 or pay as low as $59 monthly.

Their online program is self-paced and an excellent choice for corporate paralegals, including business law.

National University

National University offers a BS in paralegal studies entirely online.

Students must attend 180 quarter units and be responsible for paying tuition.

The average cost is $13,320, and financial aid is available along with payment options.

Students should expect an intensive, fast-paced program, as it focuses on preparing students to sit for the bar exam.


According to Glassdoor, a paralegal’s average total pay is $70,026.

Depending on location, experience, and expertise, this average can go lower or higher.

Paralegals who work in the corporate world tend to make an average of $79,757, a bit higher than the standard paralegal position.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Arkansas2,160- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
District of Columbia5,580$91,880$44.17$124,650$56,780
New Hampshire1,310$56,530$27.18$81,100$37,890
New Jersey9,580$65,570$31.52$96,480$38,650
New Mexico1,850$51,420$24.72$70,010$37,660
New York30,020$69,860$33.59$103,890$45,720
North Carolina12,290$56,120$26.98$81,310$35,920
North Dakota580$54,090$26.00$75,500$39,360
Rhode Island1,320- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
South Carolina6,150$52,060$25.03$65,960$37,300
South Dakota500$55,290$26.58$68,120$44,300
West Virginia1,990$50,380$24.22$77,230$28,760
Puerto Rico710$45,220$21.74$65,670$30,560
Virgin Islands70$54,500$26.20$70,620$43,880

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $91,880.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • District of Columbia - $91,880
  • California - $76,080
  • Washington - $72,590
  • Massachusetts - $71,670
  • New York - $69,860
  • Colorado - $68,920
  • Delaware - $68,340
  • Connecticut - $67,310
  • Oregon - $66,250
  • New Jersey - $65,570
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Paralegals and Legal Assistants, OCC Code 23-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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