About 5,330 paralegals were employed in Washington DC as of 2018, one of the highest concentrations of paralegals in the country.1 In the greater metropolitan area that includes DC, Arlington, and Alexandria, about 11,540 paralegals were employed during the same time period.1 Washington DC has a huge legal community and paralegals play a key role at thousands of law firms, government agencies, and corporations. Paralegal schools in the Washington DC area offer specialized training for individuals interested in the growing legal field.
How to Become a Paralegal in Washington DC
To become qualified to work as a paralegal in DC, a common path is to earn a paralegal degree at an accredited college. While there is no particular education requirement set by law for DC paralegals, earning a degree can qualify you to apply for voluntary national paralegal certification, which can help you secure a job. Individual employers have varying levels of education requirements for job candidates, but in the competitive District of Columbia jobs market, highly qualified applicants have an edge.
Washington DC Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
While some new law school grads have struggled to find employment, the market for paralegals has been more favorable due to factors like their lower cost to employers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for paralegals in Washington DC in 2015 was $80,470 per year, the highest in the nation by a notable margin, though this is likely offset at least in part by the high cost of living in DC.1 The outlook for DC paralegals is solid, with a projected growth rate of 10.6% expected through 2026.2
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Washington DC
George Washington University: A paralegal studies graduate certificate and a master’s degree in paralegal studies are housed within the College of Professional Studies at George Washington University. Both programs offer classes at the Foggy Bottom Campus or online. The graduate certificate consists of 18 credit hours, while the master’s degree is 32 credit hours. The core course sequence for both plans includes American Jurisprudence, Legal Research and Writing, Litigation, and Corporate and Contracts Law.
Howard University: The Howard University School of Law offers a paralegal certificate program that focuses on hands-on learning to build real-world skills. Course requirements can be completed in four months, and course schedules are designed for students who are currently working full-time, allowing flexibility for those who are seeking to build their paralegal careers. Students pursuing the certificate learn legal fundamentals including court rules, discovery, legal research, and preparing legal documents. Paralegal students have access to the extensive Howard University Law Library as well as cutting edge research tools and online study aids, including mock exams.
Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Washington DC
- Williams & Connolly LLP has been recognized for its top tier performance by such publications as the Vault Guide, The National Law Journal, Chambers USA, and The American Lawyer. Williams & Connolly is a global firm but maintains only one office, which is located in Washington, DC. Williams & Connolly is interested in recruiting exceptional paralegal candidates with developed skills.
- BuckleySandler LLP has also been recognized for excellence by Chambers USA, as well as The Legal 500, Super Lawyers, and Smart CEO. It represents primarily corporate and business clients in related areas of the law. BuckleySandler supports the personal and professional growth of its staff and welcomes inquiries from qualified paralegal candidates.
- Sidley Austin LLP is a well-known firm, and its office in Washington, DC handles civil and administrative litigation as it relates to federal law. Sidley Austin is a world-class firm that seeks world-class candidates for its openings.
Paralegal Schools and Programs in District of Columbia (Washington DC)
An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
American University (Washington DC)
Master of Legal Studies
Catholic University of America (Washington DC)
Certificate | Paralegal Studies
George Washington University (Washington DC)
Graduate Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Graduate Certificate | Paralegal Studies (online program)
Masters Degree | Paralegal Studies
Masters Degree | Paralegal Studies (online program)
Georgetown University (Washington DC)*
Master of Law | Individualized Studies
Master of Law | International Legal Studies
Master of Law | Global Health Law
Master of Law | Global Health Law and International Institutions
Master of Law | International Business and Economic Law
Master of Law | National Security Law
Master of Law | Securities and Financial Regulation
Master of Law | Taxation
Dual Master | International Affairs and Law
Certificate | Employee Benefits Law
Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Howard University (Washington DC)
Certificate | Paralegal
University of the District of Columbia Community College (Washington DC)
Associate of Applied Science | Legal Assistant
*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)
- National Capital Area Paralegal Association (NCAPA) – Non-profit organization that was formed to support paralegals working in the DC-suburban Maryland-northern Virginia area.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
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