Almost 6,000 paralegals work in Maryland according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report of 2010. This makes that the metropolitan area surrounding Washington D.C, suburban Maryland included, have the third largest concentration of paralegal jobs as well as making it the third top paying region for paralegal jobs in the country. A majority of them are found in Baltimore and Alexandria metro areas.
Paralegal Certifications & Requirements
Maryland has not issued a standard minimum level of education or training for paralegals, paralegals here are not regulated. This means they can enter the field and move up in it by getting on the job training. Rule 5.3, however, requires all paralegals to work under direct supervision of an attorney. This attorney will take all professional responsibility for the paralegal’s actions.
Employers, however, are favoring candidates with some formal education in paralegal studies. Together with this, voluntary national certification from an organization such as National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) will benefit candidates.
Candidates should also join the Maryland Association of Paralegals (MAP). MAP encourages members to seek certification by taking the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) for those just graduating and entering the job market or Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) for those with both education and experience. This education can be:
• Associate degree in paralegal studies plus six years’ experience
• Bachelor degree in any field plus three years’ experience
• Master degree in any field plus two years’ experience
Passing of PCCE allows you to use the designation Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) whereas passing PACE allows you to use the designation Registered Paralegal (RP). Test centers for both PCCE and PACE are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Landover, Towson, Bethesda and Salisbury.
In Maryland, paralegals wanting to get an education can pursue certification or degree-conferring programs in paralegal studies. These programs assist beginner paralegals prepare to take one of the voluntary national certification exams.
Schools in Maryland that provide paralegal programs that are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) include:
• University of Maryland, University College: Bachelor of Science- Legal Studies
• Stevenson University: Bachelor of Science – Paralegal Studies
• Prince George’s Community College: a) Certificate – Paralegal/Legal Assistant
b) Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal/Legal Assistant
• Montgomery College: a) Letter of Recognition – Legal analysis
b) Certificate – Paralegal Studies
c) Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal Studies
• Harford Community College: Certificate – Paralegal Studies
• George Washington University: a) Graduate Certificate – Paralegal Studies
b) Master’s Degree – Paralegal Studies
• Frederick Community College: a) Certificate – Paralegal Studies
b) Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal Studies
• College of Southern Maryland: Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal Studies
• Chesapeake College: a) Certificate – Paralegal Studies
b) Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal Studies
• Baltimore City Community College: Associate of Applied Science – Legal Assistant
• Anne Arnudel Community College: a) Associate of Applied Science – Litigation
b) Associate of Applied Science – General Practice
c) Associate of Applied Science – Business
Based on the paralegal studies program, an internship may be built into it. This provides for a good experience for working in the field. If this is not the case, candidates should search for entry level paralegal or assistant jobs. These are care assistants, legal assistants, legal administrative assistants, paralegal interns and paralegals. Legal aid bureaus also hire paralegals but at a slightly lower salary than firms do. Some of the top law firms in Maryland that accept resumes from qualified paralegals include:
• Semmes, Bowen & Semmes
• Silverman, Thompson Slutkin & White, LLC
• Hogan Lovells US LLP
• Miles and Stockbridge
• Hodes, Pessin & Katz P.A.
• Saul Ewing LLP
• Goodell, DeVires, Leech & Dann LLP
• Gordon Feinbatt LLC
• Ober Kaler
• Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP
• DLA Piper
• Venable LLP
• Jones Day
• Holland and Knight
• Arnold and Porter
• Steptoe and Johnson LLP
• Williams and Connolly
Paralegal Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2014 estimated a 17% increase in employment of paralegals and legal assistants in the United States between 2012 and 2022. Paralegals in Maryland, however, may see slower growth with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation projecting an 8.4% growth rate. This is because paralegals are getting to play a more substantial role as firms try to minimize expenses in this efficiency oriented economy. Firms are cutting down costs by getting paralegals to do the foundation work before the attorney comes in to finalize
Paralegal Salary in Maryland
The average salary for a paralegal in Maryland as of 2014 was $54, 540 which is above the national average of $48, 350. This number is expected to increase as paralegals are given more diverse and substantial tasks as well as continued expansion of corporate positions for paralegals. Candidates should note, however, that salaries tend to be higher in urban areas with employers competing for the most talented and qualified candidate.