How to Become a Litigation Paralegal

Litigation paralegals are specialists in their field.

Learning how to become a litigation paralegal is the first step towards starting a career or changing careers to become a litigation paralegal.

Litigation Paralegal

Completing a certificate or degree program offering a litigation paralegal concentration or courses prepares students to work as entry-level litigation paralegals.

Many schools offer online paralegal programs, which allow students to continue their normal activities while completing their litigation paralegal program.

There is a good job outlook for paralegals.

The great job outlook means that graduates will have the option of choosing their ideal paralegal job.

What Is a Litigation Paralegal?

Paralegals perform a variety of duties. Litigation paralegals must have the education and required skills for their careers.

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The duties of litigation paralegals may go beyond those of general paralegals.

They provide support for attorneys from the pre-discovery stage through the closing arguments.

Some duties may vary, based on the specialization of the law firm, the government agency, or the organization.

The duties of litigation paralegals include:

  • Researching case law and regulations that are relevant to a case
  • Drafting and filing court exhibits, briefs, and other documents
  • Preparing depositions
  • Interacting with clients, witnesses, and attorneys

Litigation paralegals help attorneys during court proceedings by taking notes and organizing documents.

They provide them to attorneys as they are needed in court.

Steps to Become a Litigation Paralegal

Litigation paralegals must have the ability to work under pressure.

They must be detail-oriented, and have strong communication skills.

They need to have strong organizational skills.

They must also complete the steps that are required to become a litigation paralegal.

Step 1: Complete Education Requirements

The education requirements to become a litigation paralegal may vary by state.

Students need to check the education requirements for their state and their employer.

The reason is that states and employers often require that students have completed a paralegal program that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Some states and employers require paralegals to have a paralegal studies certificate.

Some other employers or states may require that paralegals have an associate degree.

Students may increase their career opportunities by completing a bachelor’s degree.

Many schools have general paralegal programs, but not litigation paralegal programs.

Look for a litigation paralegal program or a paralegal program that includes litigation courses.

Step 2: Demonstrate Digital Literacy

Paralegals need to have proficiency in legal software and Microsoft Office.

They need to understand current technology.

Paralegals should learn new technology as it develops and as it applies to the paralegal profession.

Demonstrating digital literacy and the willingness to learn new technology helps litigation paralegals to be more proficient.

It also helps them to stand out among their peers.

Step 3: Obtain a Licensure or Certification

Most states do not require that paralegals have a licensure or certification.

Many employers prefer to hire paralegals who have passed the certification exam.

Sitting for licensing or certification exams typically requires the completion of an accredited paralegal program.

It may also require people to have work experience as a paralegal.

Students should make sure that the school where they want to complete a paralegal program meets the qualifications to sit for exams.

Step 4: Get Litigation Paralegal Training

Paralegal education programs usually include a required internship or other hands-on experience.

Engaging in training while earning college credit helps students to complete their paralegal program requirements.

Some employers offer on-the-job training for new paralegals.

Students should learn about the training opportunities at the law firm or agency where they want to work as litigation paralegals.

Step 5: Complete Continuing Education Requirements

Certified paralegals must complete continuing education credits to renew their licensure, registration, or certification.

The states vary in the number of credits that paralegals must have and how often paralegals must complete the credits.

California requires that certified paralegals must complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education credits every five years.

New York requires that certified paralegals complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education credits every two years.

Compare the requirements of those states to the requirements for Florida paralegals.

The state requires that registered paralegals complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education credits every three years.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Litigation Paralegal

Many states do not require paralegals to have a license, a registration, or a certification.

Students need to check the requirements for licensure, certification, or registration for the state where they want to work.

States have specific requirements for those paralegals who do obtain their credentials.

They must complete a paralegal program.

They must also sit for and pass the exam to become licensed or certified in that state.

Each state also has requirements for the renewal of a paralegal’s license, registration, or certification.

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) lists the licensing, certification, registration, and renewal requirements for each state.

Online Training Programs

Schools that offer accredited online paralegal programs are often approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Students who want to become litigation paralegals should look for schools that have a litigation paralegal program, that offer a litigation paralegal concentration, or that have litigation courses in their paralegal program.

The tuition and other costs vary, based on several things.

Tuition costs and fees vary by each school.

The length of the litigation paralegal program also affects the cost.

It takes less time to complete a certificate program, compared to a paralegal degree program.

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago offers four paralegal studies certificate programs.

Two of the programs focus on litigation.

The Paralegal Studies Certificate: Litigation Practice program is a 22-credit program.

It prepares students to work in employment law, environmental law, immigration law, or medical malpractice law.

The program also focuses on legal technology skills.

There is also a 28-credit Paralegal Studies Certificate: Litigation and Corporate Certificate program.

University of Hartford

The University of Hartford offers an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies program.

The 60-credit online program includes courses such as Civil Litigation, and Technology in Law.

The school also has an on-campus paralegal studies program.

The 2024 tuition is $650 per credit hour.

National University

National University has an online Paralegal Specialist Certificate in Litigation program.

The program includes courses on topics such as legal research, case analysis, and evidence.

The curriculum also covers drafting pleadings and preparing cases for trial.

Students enjoy the year-round enrollment and the four-week courses.

University of Cincinnati logo

University of Cincinnati Online

The Bachelor of Science in Law and Paralegal Studies program at the University of Cincinnati Online is a 120-credit hour program.

It includes several courses in civil litigation and administrative litigation.

There is also an online associate degree program in paralegal studies.

The 2024 tuition is $513 per credit hour.

Salary

The average salary for paralegals in 2023 was $60,970.

One thing that affects salary is the state where the litigation paralegal works.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes California, New York, and Washington on its list of the top-paying states for paralegals.

The area where litigation paralegals work also affects their salary.

The BLS lists the Parkersburg-Vienna West Virginia metropolitan area’s average salary for paralegals at $67,380.

Several Florida metropolitan areas, New Orleans, and Charlotte, SC are also among the top-paying areas.

The highest-paying non-metropolitan area for paralegals is Alaska.

The salary for paralegals in Alaska averages $69,510.

Some areas in California, Wyoming, and Massachusetts are among the highest-paying non-metropolitan areas for paralegals.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Alabama3,770$51,130$24.58$74,640$31,200
Alaska740$63,580$30.57$94,120$43,110
Arizona7,110$61,300$29.47$84,100$35,310
Arkansas2,160- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
California37,270$76,080$36.58$109,340$46,730
Colorado5,750$68,920$33.13$99,060$45,510
Connecticut4,860$67,310$32.36$91,590$46,350
Delaware1,760$68,340$32.86$99,100$41,350
District of Columbia5,580$91,880$44.17$124,650$56,780
Florida36,060$56,650$27.24$78,440$37,370
Georgia12,510$57,890$27.83$87,660$29,820
Hawaii1,150$59,690$28.70$82,310$42,270
Idaho1,500$49,930$24.00$66,940$27,100
Illinois12,370$63,590$30.57$97,100$38,060
Indiana5,590$54,080$26.00$81,840$34,820
Iowa2,570$58,310$28.04$79,260$38,260
Kansas2,680$53,440$25.69$79,630$34,710
Kentucky2,800$51,020$24.53$73,780$35,620
Louisiana5,250$52,760$25.36$75,100$35,380
Maine940$56,110$26.97$71,460$46,550
Maryland7,040$62,880$30.23$88,670$39,250
Massachusetts7,490$71,670$34.46$103,000$40,760
Michigan7,440$58,400$28.08$81,560$38,500
Minnesota6,140$63,450$30.51$94,910$39,790
Mississippi1,950$46,060$22.15$63,840$31,990
Missouri5,930$58,040$27.91$79,830$36,920
Montana1,320$58,190$27.98$79,520$41,900
Nebraska1,720$56,510$27.17$79,600$38,880
Nevada3,190$60,860$29.26$89,690$41,600
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
Ohio8,200$55,320$26.60$78,490$36,700
Oklahoma2,840$51,430$24.73$74,590$34,080
Oregon4,790$66,250$31.85$86,420$46,090
Pennsylvania11,390$64,730$31.12$92,560$39,460
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
Tennessee4,740$54,290$26.10$82,600$34,330
Texas24,600$59,970$28.83$94,540$36,300
Utah4,080$56,040$26.94$78,830$35,660
Vermont640$61,210$29.43$74,930$48,020
Virginia10,470$60,570$29.12$83,650$35,530
Washington8,020$72,590$34.90$106,510$47,960
West Virginia1,990$50,380$24.22$77,230$28,760
Wisconsin4,840$54,880$26.39$78,420$37,460
Wyoming400$52,500$25.24$65,150$36,110
Guam80$40,810$19.62$55,930$29,450
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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