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Texas Paralegal Schools

As of May 2015, there were about 22,350 paralegals employed in Texas, with the Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas among the top ten metros with the highest employment levels for paralegals in the country.1 Texas paralegal schools afford students the opportunity to get on the fast track to a career that is growing quickly. With a number of two- and four-year programs as well as certificates for those who have already completed some college, Texas paralegal schools offer focused paralegal degree options for students looking to start paralegal careers.

Texas Paralegal Certification

While there are no education or experience requirements to become a paralegal in Texas, many paralegals complete a degree program and obtain voluntary certification in order to become more competitive on the jobs market. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization was established by the Supreme Court of Texas and provides voluntary certification to both attorneys and paralegals in seven specific areas of the law. Applicants must meet certain criteria, including having at least five years of experience working as a paralegal under the supervision of a licensed attorney. In addition, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or higher and be a graduate of an ABA-approved paralegal program, or be certified and in good standing with the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

Paralegal Quote: “One of the best supervising attorneys I ever worked with told me not to make excuses when I made a mistake because he didn’t want to hear them. Instead, he wanted me to acknowledge my mistake, learn from it, and then work on fixing it. Most paralegals are Type A personalities, and we’re devastated when something goes wrong, especially when it’s our fault. But it will happen (more than once) during even the most successful career. What’s most important is that you and your supervising attorney work together to come up with a plan to address mistakes right away – and then take steps to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.” -Lynne J. DeVenny, author of the blog Practical Paralegalism and co-host of the podcast The Paralegal Voice.

Texas Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

Pay varies in large part by the employer as well as level of experience, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, Texas paralegals made an average annual salary of $53,190, with the highest average salaries in the state reported in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Odessa, and Midland.1 More good news for prospective paralegals in Texas is that the outlook is above average. The field is expected to grow by 27.2% in Texas through 2024, compared to a national average growth rate of 8%.2,3 The comparatively high average salary and competitive growth rate are promising for aspiring paralegals in the state.

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Texas

Texas A & M University – Commerce: The Department of Political Science at Texas A & M University – Commerce offers its students a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies, both of which are approved by the American Bar Association. The required major courses are Introduction to Law; Legal Research; Law Office Management; Civil Procedure; Paralegal Internship; and Torts and Personal Injury. Students must also complete 12 credit hours of designated specialty courses such as Bankruptcy for Paralegals, Family Law, and Business Law for Paralegals. The Department of Political Science has 11 full-time and part-time faculty members contributing towards the paralegal studies curriculum.

Texas State University: Texas State University’s Department of Political Science offers an American Bar Association-approved paralegal certificate as well as the state’s only ABA-approved graduate program, the Master of Arts in Legal Studies. The Master of Arts is a 36-credit hour course of study, with options for concentrations in general studies, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Environmental Law, or Legal Administration. The paralegal certificate program is designed to supplement an existing degree. Both education plans have a mandatory internship for students, but should a student have substantial law office experience, he or she can petition to enroll in a special emphasis course instead.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Texas

Haynes and Boone LLP is a newer firm, but it is already one of the largest law firms in the US. The firm started by specializing in securities law and has since expanded to cover a broad range of legal services. Believing that its staff defines its practice, Haynes and Boone seeks the most qualified applicants for its paralegal openings. Andrews Kurth LLP has been recognized by US News and Best Lawyers as a first tier law firm. Andrews Kurth puts an emphasis on cultivating a professional and engaging workplace culture and strives to provide its paralegals with training and growth opportunities. Jackson Walker LLP has been in business for over 125 years, and this high volume, broad practice firm needs paralegals to support and fuel its continuing growth.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in Texas

An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Amarillo College (Amarillo)*
Associate of Applied Science | Legal Studies
Professional Certificate | Legal Studies/Paralegal

Austin Community College District (Austin)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Advanced Technical Certificate | Paralegal

Brightwood College (Dallas; San Antonio)
Associate Degree | Paralegal
Certificate | General Practice Paralegal

Central Texas College (Killeen)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Certificate | Paralegal/Legal Assistant

Collin College (Plano)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Certificate | Paralegal

Del Mar College (Corpus Christi)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal

El Centro College (Dallas)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal

El Paso Community College (El Paso)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Certificate of Completion | Paralegal

Lamar State College-Port Arthur (Port Arthur)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Lee College (Baytown)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Lone Star College-North Harris (Houston)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Advanced Technical Certificate | Paralegal Studies

McLennan Community College (Waco)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal

Midland College (Midland)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Beginning Legal Technician

Navarro College (Corsicana)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies: Criminal Justice
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

San Jacinto College (Houston*; Pasadena)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

South Plains College (Levelland)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

South Texas College (McAllen)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal

Tarrant County College (Fort Worth)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Texas A & M University-Commerce (Commerce)*
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies

Texas State University-San Marcos (San Marcos)*
Master of Arts | Legal Studies
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal Studies

The University of Texas at Brownsville (Brownsville)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Tyler Junior College (Tyler)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal

Wharton County Junior College (Wharton)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)

Additional Resources

  • State Bar of Texas: Paralegal Division – Provides useful information to paralegals and prospective paralegals in the state, including membership information, codes of ethics, and events.
  • Texas Alliance of Paralegal Associations – Offers networking opportunities and information about continuing education, public relation projects, and recent legislation and law.
  • North Texas Paralegal Association – Affiliated with the National Association of Legal Assistants/ Paralegals (NALA), this organization was established to support legal assistants and paralegals in the northern Texas region.
  • West Texas Paralegal Association – Association for paralegals in West Texas affiliated with the National Association of Legal Assistants/ Paralegals (NALA).

References:
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm