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Paralegals’ total pay jumped to nearly $60,000 this year and their hourly billing rates increased to $160, according to a new nationwide survey. Their total compensation package increased by 9% from last year while paralegal managers’ total pay grew by 7%, to about $109,000. The 2007 compensation survey for paralegals, legal assistants and managers, released Tuesday, shows increases in total cash compensation for most of the 11 paralegal positions in law firms and law departments. The figures include salary, as well as overtime pay and cash bonuses. The survey was conducted by Altman Weil Publications in Newton Square, Pa., which publishes surveys on the legal profession, in partnership with the International Paralegal Management Association in Avondale Estates, Ga., which promotes the development, professional standing and visibility of paralegal management professionals. The data is based on information from 274 law firms and 78 law departments for a total of 14,052 paralegal positions. Paralegal specialists, who have training in areas such as nursing and accounting, received $84,000 this year, up by 6.5% from last year. The survey also found that law firms offered better pay packages than legal departments. For example, paralegals in law firms are taking home 9.5% more on average than their counterparts in law departments. As far as practice areas, paralegals in intellectual property/patent/trademark fields earned the most at law firms while those in corporate practice were the highest paid in law departments. The average paralegal billing rate of $160 an hour represents a 7% increase from last year. Paralegals billed an average of 1,490 hours a year, with insurance paralegals logging the most hours, followed by those in litigation.

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