Skip to main content

Paralegal Career Guide: How Much Does a Paralegal Earn?

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 31 Aug 2023


  • Earlier this year TotallyLegal published their annual salary survey, detailing the inside story on salaries, bonuses and job satisfaction, from over 900 legal professionals. The responses we received included those from our valued Paralegals niche who constitute one of the largest groups in our audience. The survey indicates a continuation of Paralegals taking on the fee earning work traditionally reserved for Solicitors, filling the gap left by cuts to legal aid, and carving prosperous professions essential to the smooth-running of law firms UK, and worldwide.

    Working as a Paralegal comes with professional, as well as personal perks, with the average salary standing at £30,849 per annum - an 8% increase on 2022 figures. Alongside this, 55% of Paralegals received a pay rise in 2023, 43% took home an additional supplement in the form of a bonus, and 62% conducted a hybrid working structure.

  • Industry Incomes

    Accounting for 8% of all Paralegal respondents, Litigation was presented as the most popular legal practice area, shortly followed by Commercial Property, with a 6% stake. Despite being a popular practice area, those working in Commercial Property received one of the lowest average Paralegal salaries at £24,167.

    The highest earning Paralegals are to be found within the Media / Entertainment sector with an average annual salary for a paralegal standing at £55,000 in 2023. Arguably, the demand for Paralegals with expertise in media law exceeds the supply of qualified professionals.


    Elsewhere, the Immigration practice area was home to Paralegals who earned an average of £46,000, while those working in Company / Commercial received an average pay of £40,000 – a figure bolstered by the increased need for non-qualified legal professionals to aid In-House and Commercial Private Practice teams.

    At the other end of the pay scale, Paralegals working in the Corporate and Criminal sectors reported some of the lowest average salaries by practice area, earning £22,500 retrospectively per annum. Paralegals working in the private client-focused discipline of Family law saw an average of £25,000 per annum - a 9% increase from 2018 figures, Paralegals working in family law have seen a slow amelioration of salary across the past 5 years.

    Rita Leat, CEO of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) argues that “the private client sector has seen many disruptions due to the lack of legal aid and an absence of firms willing to take on areas of law that do not generate much revenue, such as welfare and housing law. Even wills are often run as loss leader services in the hope of attracting more lucrative probate clients.” 

    “Paralegals are drawn to this sector as it offers a good, steady supply of work” which, according to Leat, “may be more important for sole practitioners than fewer clients with higher revenue.”

  • Location, Location, Location

    For Paralegals, the highest annual salaries are to be found in the capital, with those based in London reporting earnings of £35,435 per annum. Meanwhile, with average pay of £34,000, Paralegals working in the North East swiftly chased the prime location of the city, setting the precedent for the rest of the UK.


  • Capital in the Capital

    London remains the UK centre for top-tier salaries, with pockets of above-average earnings throughout the capital. In particular, Canary Wharf retains the crown as the capital’s highest-paying district. Across the practice areas, Paralegals in Immigration and Media / Entertainment received the top spot, with average earnings of £55,000 per annum. Those working in Intellectual Property followed suit, with a £45,000 average, chased by the Commercial / Company and Litigation sectors, with an earning potential of £40,000 on average.

  • The Perks of Going In-House

    The most affluent private practice salaries for Paralegals are located in US law firms (up to £85,000 per annum), with other company types offering around £34,000 - £27,000 on average to their Paralegal staff.

    With average salaries of £34,643, some of the highest earnings were reported by Paralegals conducting legal research in-house, and while lucrative private practice roles may be hard to come by (US and Magic Circle firms each account for just 3% of Paralegal respondents), just shy of a fifth of Paralegals are currently employed in-house.

    Rita Leat suggests this salary discrepancy is attributable to the difference in responsibilities taken on by in-house and law firm Paralegals: “In the UK, in-house employers will not necessarily have legal staff called ‘Paralegals’. Instead, they often have their own in-house job titles such as Legal Adviser or Commercial Contracts Manager. This leads to higher paid opportunities where companies do not pay by job title but by the work that is undertaken. This is not always the case in law firms, where Paralegals are often still seen as support staff only.”

  • Mind the Gaps

    The responses to our survey revealed a stark gender representation gap among our Paralegal audience. 77% of Paralegal respondents were female, perhaps owing to a historical lack of lucrative fee earning roles for these professionals - the limited number of which are statistically more likely to be occupied by men.

    Despite boasting an almost equal gender split in their membership, the Institute of Paralegals' CEO suggests there are many factors that influence gender demographics in the profession.

    “Legal Secretaries, who are more likely to be female than male, often seek opportunities to progress their career and learn law from a non-fee earning perspective, entering the domain of Paralegal jobs,” says Leat, “owning your own business has also attracted more females over the past five years, with more Paralegal law firms being formed with women at their head.”

    In the Paralegal profession, female Paralegal’s out-earn their male counterparts. Average male earnings stand at £29,583 per year compared to the £31,375 paid to women. With the median gender pay gap sitting at 13%, the discrepancy in pay in favour of women, takes its place as a welcomed anomaly across the wider legal profession.

  • The Balancing Act

    When asked ‘what’s most important to you in your job’, 27% of the TotallyLegal audience said salary, 26% chose flexible working, and 24% noted ‘opportunities for progression’. Those in Paralegal roles defied the trend, with ‘opportunities for progression’ monopolising the vote at 43%. Salary followed suit at 34%, and 15% chose flexible working. This dynamic represents the importance of upskilling, training, and career progression for Paralegals.

  • What does this mean for Paralegals looking forwards?

    It appears that, more frequently, those in the profession are choosing to remain Paralegals and work their way up into increasingly senior fee earning roles – as opposed to practising as a Paralegal for a year or two before moving onto a training contract and eventually qualifying as a Solicitor.

    The root of this career Paralegal trend likely stems from the several waves of Legal aid budget cuts sanctioned by the government since 2004.

    Once accessible to 80% of the United Kingdom, legal aid helps to cover the cost of legal advice, mediation and court representation for those who would be otherwise unable to pay for it. However, with sweeping budget cuts and tighter restrictions on eligibility, just 20% of those dealing with legal issues but unable to afford advice now seek the help they need.

    According to Rita Leat, this barrier preventing access to justice for those without means is a sector-wide problem, but one which the work of Paralegals is, at least in part, remedying. “Paralegals are generally able to offer their services at a lower cost,” says Leat “which can help those unable to afford the higher professional fees of Solicitors or Legal Executives.”

    By carrying out Solicitor-level work at a fraction of the price, fee earning Paralegals have found and filled some of the gap left in the market by legal aid cuts, but it’s not just the cost of their services that make Paralegals suited to bridge this gap: the way that they operate and the regulations around their profession have a part to play too.

    “Many Paralegals work as sole traders and do not have the same overheads and regulatory costs that Solicitors have,” remarks Leat, “We have seen many Paralegals signing up for voluntary regulation through the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) and thus are operating in a responsible way, with real redress available to consumers.”

    Reassuringly, the Paralegals in our audience reported salaries in line with their tenure and experience level. Those with less than a year in their current role reported average earnings of £25,723, climbing to £28,102 after 3 years and £32,500 at the 6-year mark. However, with some Solicitors and Legal Executives of the same tenure taking home disproportionately higher pay cheques for carrying out similar work, many legal employers seemingly continue to reward Paralegals for their qualification over their responsibility level. If Paralegals are to continue picking up the slack, a fairer system of compensation needs to be implemented.

  • Paralegals of the Future

    Following budget cuts affecting all professions and industries, the number of Paralegals carrying out fee earning work at more affordable rates continues. With vast practical experience and trainee-level work under their belts, will Paralegals who have carved their career from scratch gain advantage over those completing their years at university?

    “In many cases, career Paralegals are the answer for law firms that cannot retain LPC students who move on to other firms in search of a training contract. Professional Paralegals are and will continue to be in high demand,” says IoP CEO Rita Leat, “and the Institute of Paralegals enables these professionals to gain the credibility that they need to either become employed in-house, in a law firm or to start their own businesses.”

    With a growing need for law firms to offer efficient and cost-effective services to clients, the demand for career Paralegals is only likely to increase. It seems that this demand is the real driver behind the exceptionally high level of job security among Paralegals, and, with any justice, will be the driver behind greater – and equal – compensation among Paralegals as we move forward.


Discover the latest Paralegal Jobs on site. For more career advice, discover the dedicated TotallyLegal blog, including our Paralegal Job Description, and articles such as 'How to Become a Paralegal'.