Survey: Paralegals' pay rises again in 2012

Paralegal pay continues to rise for both law firms and law departments, according to the Annual Compensation Survey for Paralegals/Legal Assistants and Managers, 2012 Edition, released Tuesday.

The survey by ALM Legal Intelligence, a leading source of business intelligence for the legal profession, was conducted in partnership with the International Paralegal Management Association (IPMA) and has been conducted annually since 2002. The report tracks compensation, billing rates and billable hours for paralegals, based on responses from 274 law firms and law departments representing more than 8,775 paralegal positions.

This year, the survey reflected a few changes in order to better accommodate the informational needs of its constituents: paralegal titles were refined to include job functionality and years of service; salary is expressed on an hourly basis, allowing compensation data to be more readily applicable to the variety of standard work weeks for the participating organizations; and overtime reporting was eliminated since this data is not readily applicable to setting base salary or bonus levels.

Key findings from the survey included the following:

* The number of organizations granting salary increases increased once again this year. Salary increases rose from 87.2 percent of respondents in 2011 to 92.1 percent in 2012 for paralegal positions that are exempt from wage-and-hour regulations and from 90 percent to 96 percent for non-exempt paralegal positions.

* Due to methodology change, base compensation is not able to be compared to that of previous editions. However, assuming a 40 hour work week and 52 week/year schedule, compensation for most paralegal/legal assistant titles appear to have increased in 2012.

* The top two highest paid (hourly) positions in 2012 are Litigation Support/Technology Manager ($77.72) and Paralegal Director ($67.73) on the law firm side, and Paralegal Manager ($59.05) on the law department side.

* The 2012 Survey shows increases in bonuses for half of the positions where data was available to compare to the 2011 edition. Case Manager and Litigation Support/Technology Manager saw the biggest increases on the firm side; Paralegal and Paralegal Managers saw big increases on the law department side.

* Law firm paralegal average billing rates increased or remained relatively the same in 2012 for the paralegal positions that have comparable data for 2011. Rates ranged from $134 an hour for a Case Assistant up to $299 for the Specialist/Industry Analyst position.

Published: Wed, May 30, 2012


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