Environmental Law Paralegal: Career and Education Related Information

Apr 26, 2021

Paralegals are typically required to have a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies. This helps prepare them for their role assisting attorneys. Those interested in environmental law may wish to include environmental law studies in their training to prepare to specialize in this field.

Essential Information

Environmental law paralegals assist licensed attorneys with preparing for cases involving environmental regulations and litigation. Paralegals who specialize in environmental law may work in law firms, government agencies and corporations. Paralegals typically need a certificate or associate's degree for entry-level employment.

Required Education Associate's degree or certificate
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 10% for all paralegals and legal assistants
Average Annual Salary (2020)* $56,610 for all paralegals and legal assistants

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Environmental Law Paralegal Career Information

Job Description

Environmental law paralegals assist environmental lawyers in researching relevant laws, investigating facts and writing reports on cases that deal with environmental regulations. For example, environmental law paralegals might work with lawyers to investigate corporations suspected of improperly disposing of harmful chemicals and materials. Additionally, environmental law paralegals review and organize legal documents in a case. Environmental law paralegals who work for corporations, may draft applications for regulatory permits, such as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Employment Outlook

Paralegals can complete legal tasks without much supervision, which can make hiring a team of paralegals more cost-effective than hiring full-time lawyers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that between the years 2019 and 2029 job openings for paralegals and legal assistants will increase much faster than the average.

Salary Statistics

In May 2020, the BLS reported that paralegals and legal assistants in all fields earned a mean annual salary of $56,610. Environmental paralegals can work in a variety of non-profit organizations, government agencies, law firms and industries, such as the oil and gas extraction industry and the coal and petroleum products manufacturing industry.

Education Information for Environmental Law Paralegals

Many paralegals gain academic training through either associate degree or certificate programs in paralegal studies. Many programs provide general classroom lectures and internship training for paralegals in all legal fields, so those interested in environmental law may have to take elective coursework to gain a deeper understanding of environmental law issues. Typical coursework in a paralegal studies program includes legal research and writing, litigation, legal technology and legal terminology. Specific coursework in environmental law covers topics in federal environmental policies, toxic substances control, natural resources management and state environmental regulations.

Paralegals perform research for lawyers and may be responsible for completing paperwork and writing reports. Environmental law paralegals work on cases involving environmental regulations. It is common for environmental law paralegals to work for government agencies or non-profit organizations, as well as law firms.

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