There is no national pay scale for paralegals. Salaries vary widely depending upon such things as:
Typically however if you work for a solicitors' firm then you should expect to be paid somewhere between £14,000 - £22,000 as a non-graduate (entry-level) starting salary, and £18,000 - £25,000 if a graduate. This figure will, typically, rise to between £30,000 - £40,000 for more experienced paralegals. More generous employers (typically larger law firms) may pay up to £55,000. We have heard of salaries reaching £70,000, but those are rare.
Entry-level work in paralegal law firms, generally speaking, pays slightly lower than the above figures. However those who succeed in the business may well become partners and senior managers and thus earn profit-share.
Traditionally the most generous group of law firm employers have been the UK (i.e. London) offices of US law firms. This is because they generally pay better salaries than UK firms anyway, but also because many do not have trainee solicitors and so use paralegals to do trainee/newly qualified work: more responsibility equals more pay. The downside however is that American firms are some of the toughest employers to get work with. Often they will only consider LPC graduates who already have experience of working as a paralegal in a City commercial firm.
Amongst the best paid group of paralegals are compliance paralegals in the financial sector, who typically earn £25,000+ after one year's experience.
The best way is to look at the paralegal pay surveys issued periodically by some legal recruitment companies (just Google "paralegal pay") and also at current paralegal vacancies posted on jobs board and by legal recruitment companies - again this information is easily available from a large variety of sources using Google.
In an ideal world, yes. We hate employers to take advantage of people just as much as you do. However you do need to think pragmatically. The hardest thing of all is getting that initial experience that turns you from being a wannabe paralegal into an experienced one. We are certainly not recommending you just accept any outrageously low salary offered, but you do need to look at the longer term and see whether the experience you would get during the first 9 - 12 months will be good enough to allow you to get a better, and better paid, job elsewhere. If so, then it might be worth taking the low salary to get that all-important initial experience.
Be careful. An employer offering a criminally low salary is probably a bit rubbish in other respects too, so do ask about what you will be doing. A poor salary but fantastic experience is probably an acceptable trade-off. A poor salary and doing nothing but photocopying is probably a job you need to think twice about accepting!
Please note that solicitors' firms doing legal aid work traditionally paid quite poorly. This is because the amount of money they receive from the Legal Services Commission for doing legal aid work is itself very poor - in other words they may be great employers, but they simply don't have the money themselves to pay you more. The upside is that you are likely to get really good work experience and good responsibility early on. Plus you will also be helping people who really need you.
In Hong Kong there is no 'national' pay scale for paralegals. Salaries vary amongst different practice areas, and there are differences between local law firms, international law firms and in-house employers. Earnings typically fall into the following ranges based on two categories: paralegals employed by law firms and paralegals working in-house.
Law Firm Employers:
The Institute of Paralegals is delighted to be working with CQrecruit to provide career information to those who are interested in exploring the legal profession in Asia Pacific. If you would like further information please visit https://www.cqrecruit.com.