How to Become an Intellectual Property Paralegal

If you are interested in intellectual property or copyright law, but don’t want to attend law school, becoming an intellectual property paralegal can be a great choice.

Intellectual Property Paralegal

You’ll work with attorneys, with no law school required.

What Is an Intellectual Property Paralegal?

Paralegals, including intellectual property paralegals, work with lawyers to provide a variety of supportive legal services.

However, intellectual property paralegals specialize in intellectual property, which includes copyright, patent, and related issues.

An intellectual property paralegal will typically work with an attorney or a law firm.

They may conduct the initial meeting with a potential client, and then discuss the meeting with the attorney.

The duties of an intellectual property paralegal include:

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  • Working with clients to get patents, trademarks, or copyright
  • Filing applications
  • Research for attorneys
  • Communicating with clients
  • Client intake and assessment
  • Responding to applications and appeals
  • Creating legal documents and applications
  • Create status reports for ongoing cases
  • Update clients on the status of the case

Steps to Become an Intellectual Property Paralegal

To become an intellectual property paralegal, you’ll need to follow a few steps.

There are no concrete guidelines or licensing requirements nationwide, but most employers require education and certification.

Step 1. Education

Education isn’t required to become an intellectual property paralegal, but it is strongly recommended.

Many programs are ABA, or American Bar Association, approved.

Some programs will qualify you for certification.

You have a few options for education.

First, you can choose a program that focuses on being a general paralegal, or a program that focuses on intellectual property paralegal training.

You can also choose a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree paralegal program.

Step 2. Certification

Once you’ve completed paralegal education, you may be eligible for certification.

Generally, you’ll need a general paralegal education to become a certified paralegal.

You can also qualify for certification if you have experience as a paralegal.

While certification isn’t required to become an intellectual property paralegal, it will help you in your career.

Step 3. Internship or Employment

Next, you can start an internship or your career as a paralegal.

If you don’t have any paralegal experience, you may want to begin with an internship.

You may also want to get a general paralegal education, and then intern as an intellectual property paralegal.

Licensing Requirements to Become an Intellectual Property Paralegal

Most states don’t have any requirements for paralegals.

This is because they work under an attorney, who is licensed and oversees their work.

However, two organizations offer certification for paralegals.

These are the National Association of Legal Assistants, or NALA, and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, or NFPA.

NALA Certification

NALA is typically considered the leading organization for paralegal certification.

If you’ve completed an approved training program, you are qualified for the certification exam.

If you have a degree in another field, you’ll need one year of experience as a paralegal and 15 hours of paralegal courses.

If you have a high school diploma, you will need to have 5 years of experience as a paralegal to become certified.

You’ll also be required to have 20 hours of continuing education credits.

Once you qualify, you’ll apply along with the required fee.

Then, you’ll schedule your exams.

You’ll need to pass the knowledge and skills exams to become a Certified Paralegal or CP.


The NFPA is the oldest paralegal organization.

If you are new to the paralegal field, you’ll take the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam or PCCE.

If you’ve earned an associate or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies you qualify for certification.

If you have a degree in an unrelated field, you’ll need a paralegal certificate to qualify.

You’ll apply for certification, and pay a fee of $300 or $350.

If you pass the exam, you’ll be a Certified Registered Paralegal or CRP.

Online Training Programs

You can choose between programs that focus on general paralegal studies or intellectual property paralegal training.

Center for Legal Studies

The Center for Legal Studies offers a variety of paralegal courses.

If you have no education or experience, you’ll begin by taking Paralegal 1 and Paralegal 2, which take 7 weeks each to complete.

Once you have a foundation of paralegal knowledge, you can take the Intellectual Property Training Course.

This course will teach you how to identify the types of intellectual property, understand the role of the paralegal in intellectual property law, and the purpose and function of trademarks.

You can expect to spend about 8 hours per week studying.

It’s important to note that these programs are offered on a strict schedule, so you must complete assignments on time.

Bryan University

Bryan University offers several paralegal programs.

You can choose a Paralegal and Legal Studies Certificate, an associate’s degree in Paralegal and Legal Studies, or a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies.

Once you’ve completed the program, you are eligible to take the NALA certification exam.

One exam attempt is included in the tuition.

You’ll attend classes live online, which allows you to interact with instructors and classmates.

You’ll also have access to online homework assignments, and the ELSSA™ simulation lab (E-Discovery Lab for Software, Simulation & Applications).

Berkley Extension

Berkley Extension offers a certificate program in Paralegal Studies.

Courses in the program include Essential Paralegal Studies Part I: Foundational Skills, Essential Paralegal Studies Part II: Authority, Research and Writing, and Paralegal E-Discovery Process and Practice.

Then, you can choose electives, including Paralegal Intellectual Property Law.

You’ll get a great general paralegal education, with some concentration on intellectual property.

IP Legal Ed

IP Legal Ed offers a comprehensive Intellectual Property Paralegal program.

You’ll learn the skills needed to be an intellectual property paralegal.

It’s important to note that this program focuses solely on intellectual property paralegals.

You won’t receive any general paralegal training.

The program is self-paced, so you can study at your convenience.

The program is designed to give you an understanding of intellectual property law, and how to perform the duties of an intellectual property paralegal.

It’s important to note that the program is not ABA-approved because ABA-approved programs focus on general paralegal training.

You may not qualify for certification unless you complete a general paralegal training program in addition to the IP Legal Ed program.

The course costs $2,495.

Lessons include Frequently Used Documents and Concepts, Patents, Patent Prosecution, Patent Examination, PCT, and The National Phase.

The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin Center for Professional Education

The University of Texas at Austin Center for Professional Education offers an Intellectual Property Law Specialist Certificate Program.

This program is designed for paralegals who already have general education or experience, and want to learn to be an intellectual property paralegal.

The program requires you to take Intellectual Property Law and Administrative Law.

You’ll also choose one elective course.

Elective course options include Legal Ethics, Laws of Evidence, and Advanced Legal Research.

The course provides 12 hours of continuing education credits.

The course is completely online, but you will need textbooks.

It’s self-paced, so you can study when it’s convenient for you.


Intellectual property paralegals earn an average of $65,023, with salaries typically ranging from $57,682 to $73,564.

How much you earn will depend on where you live and work, your experience, education, and certifications.

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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