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$100K private sector paralegal jobs in NYC: myth or reality?

I have been working as a paralegal for about 10 years now (9 paradactyl07/17/18
Any particular practice focus mentioned? E.g., litigation p wutwutwut07/17/18
What’s entry level salary for a new paralegal, and can a n madathofstra07/17/18
Your starting salary depends on the size of the firm and you isthisit07/18/18
isthisit is correct. With the right family connections or a paradactyl07/18/18
"They made bank but they had no life" That's the NYC expe dingbat07/19/18
A niche paralegal who does, for example, patent docketing an midlaw07/17/18
BigLaw paralegal making about 90 with light OT, no bonus. Ni mitchmcdeere07/17/18
Thanks to everyone for responding! paradactyl07/18/18
Friend I went to law school with failed the bar and got a jo mnjd07/18/18
Ha! You did everything right. That's the trap. paradactyl07/18/18
the problem is that almost everyone does everything right - dingbat07/19/18
yeah, I'm pretty much the king of high-end screw ups... it's wolfenstein07/20/18
Yeah. Half the attorneys I know who got suspended or disbarr fettywap07/19/18
I make a shade under 60K in NYC as a JD paralegal for a gove wolfenstein07/20/18
You are in a great position. I think more and more people i paradactyl07/24/18
paradactyl (Jul 17, 2018 - 5:24 pm)

I have been working as a paralegal for about 10 years now (9 of which have been in NYC) and every so often I will hear-tell of someone making $100K working as a paralegal. Bear in mind that this is usually coming from "a neighbor of a cousin" or "the friend-of-a-friend that my sister met in a bar last week". Based on my experience I can only see someone making this kind of scratch as a para if they have a decent base-pay ($70K) and then just work obscene amounts of overtime.

Am I completely out of the loop? Are there paralegal jobs in NYC (or other major metro areas) that offer $100K base-pay?

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wutwutwut (Jul 17, 2018 - 5:53 pm)

Any particular practice focus mentioned? E.g., litigation paralegals in specialized areas, or niche paralegals like in IP?

I've spoken to a number of them who either break $100K at a firm or in-house, or at firms who are billed and get a percentage of billings that with modest overtime take them over $100K. One said she was being billed at $225 and got 23% and was on track to make $120K.

I don't think that's anywhere the norm, though. NYC or anywhere else. Glassdoor has a fair number of reports from Skadden Arps and it looks like the 70K you mention may be on target for highly experienced paralegals.

Great name selection, by the way.

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madathofstra (Jul 17, 2018 - 5:58 pm)

What’s entry level salary for a new paralegal, and can a new, inexperienced paralegal have any chance of getting hired by large firms in NYC?

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isthisit (Jul 18, 2018 - 7:51 am)

Your starting salary depends on the size of the firm and your experience.

And you have little to no chance of being hired sans experience at a Big law firm.

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paradactyl (Jul 18, 2018 - 9:21 am)

isthisit is correct. With the right family connections or academic pedigree (Harverd, Yale, Stanford undergrad, etc.), you might be able to get your foot in the door of a Big Law firm but understand that NYC and other major cities have a unique problem because of an abundance of high-quality human capital. Well educated and ambitions young go-getters move here by the bus load every day. Sadly, many of them have relatively useless liberal arts degrees and paralegal work has become a sort of default employment option while they weigh out the merits of law school.

Please note that I too have a useless undergrad degree and have, at one time, considered law school.

With such a vast talent pool to pick from, law firms in NYC are free to offer surprisingly low salaries. Especially if they pair it with the promise of "plenty of overtime". My first paralegal job in New York was at a pretty impressive firm. They paid me $35K/year BUT had this "open overtime" policy so most of my co-workers would work until 10pm (stay until 10 and the firm would buy you dinner and pay for a car to take you home. Just like a high-priced escort!). Sure, they made bank but they had no life. The general belief is that fresh college grads will move here, get jobs as paralegals, work like dogs for two years, then go off to law school with whatever sanity they still have left intact. A few oddballs like me stick around and make a career out of it.

Please pay attention to mitchmcdeere's post below. I think some of the best employment opportunities nowadays are found outside of the "name brand" cities like New York City, Los Angeles, etc. Healthy salaries in cities with relatively low cost of living. Not a bad life.

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dingbat (Jul 19, 2018 - 1:59 pm)

"They made bank but they had no life"

That's the NYC experience, whether you're a paralegal, lawyer, banker, accountant, or even a dodo working at the local hardware store.

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midlaw (Jul 17, 2018 - 8:49 pm)

A niche paralegal who does, for example, patent docketing and has never caused a blown deadline may get 100k at a significant prosecution shop. But every paralegal I’ve ever seen who makes 100k+ is civil litigation with tons of overtime or big bonuses.

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mitchmcdeere (Jul 17, 2018 - 11:10 pm)

BigLaw paralegal making about 90 with light OT, no bonus. Niche, non-mgmt., not IP or Lit. Major but cheap metro area (Dallas, Cincy, Vegas, etc.)

I've applied in the past to NYC BigLaw, never heard back. Many have 2-year programs as pre-law training, with a mix of lifers.

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paradactyl (Jul 18, 2018 - 9:26 am)

Thanks to everyone for responding!

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mnjd (Jul 18, 2018 - 11:01 am)

Friend I went to law school with failed the bar and got a job as a paralegal at a mid sized firm making 95K with a bonus at the end of the year. Works 9-5, doesn't take work home. Where did I go wrong?

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paradactyl (Jul 18, 2018 - 12:56 pm)

Ha! You did everything right. That's the trap.

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dingbat (Jul 19, 2018 - 2:02 pm)

the problem is that almost everyone does everything right - which is why there's so much competition the normal way.

Screw up, and you gotta look for alternative options. But the high-end screw-up is more capable than the middling norm, and therefore will excel in middling fields

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wolfenstein (Jul 20, 2018 - 6:18 pm)

yeah, I'm pretty much the king of high-end screw ups... it's not all it's cracked up to be

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fettywap (Jul 19, 2018 - 2:04 pm)

Yeah. Half the attorneys I know who got suspended or disbarred are also working as "paralegals" in law firms making more money than me. Maybe that's what I need to do.

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wolfenstein (Jul 20, 2018 - 6:14 pm)

I make a shade under 60K in NYC as a JD paralegal for a government agency, in litigation.

I have also heard this, and don't doubt some BigLaw places pay that, but I think they ususally want other BigLaw experience to pay 90K plus bomus, or will get a fresh Ivu grad who wants to go to LS for a lot less...

It would take at least 90K base for me to leave my govt job for more of the same paralegal crap with far less security and lots more stress and nastiness, as well as way more actual work... probably more like 100K

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paradactyl (Jul 24, 2018 - 9:45 am)

You are in a great position. I think more and more people in NYC are figuring out that government employment is the way to go if you are in the legal field. Especially for support staff. State or Federal? I took the NY State Court Assistant exam last October. Just waiting for the results to get posted. Pension, good health benefits, steady pay increase, promotions based on competitive, internal exams...beats the Hell out of bending over backwards every day in an attempt to prove to the partners that you deserve an extra $200/year at your next performance review.

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