Maryland does not have any legal, certification, or licensing requirements for paralegals, but voluntary certification programs can distinguish a paralegal in competitive hiring situations. Smaller Maryland firms can offer a more general introduction to paralegal work, which can be beneficial for those new to the field. Salaries for paralegals vary widely by employer and industry, as well as with the experience of each paralegal. In addition, corporate positions for paralegals are expected to increase and translate into a higher average salary in Maryland over the next decade.
The state does not require any education, training, or certification for paralegals and paralegals, as long as they only work under the supervision of a qualified attorney. However, potential paralegals and paralegals are encouraged to obtain a national certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI), or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). These organizations set the industry standard for professional excellence within the profession. After graduating from a paralegal program, individuals can pursue a career in a variety of legal environments, including private firms, corporations, banks, and government agencies. Many schools in Maryland offer paralegal study programs, including certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees.
The lack of mandatory certification in Maryland means that paralegals and paralegals can still prepare for their careers with on-the-job training. Some paralegals participate in internships during their degree programs, and others work preparing documents or as legal secretaries to gain practical experience and get to know employers. Legal assistants interested in the business world can choose from several companies included in Maryland's Fortune 500 list, such as Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Coventry Health Care, and Host Hotels & Resorts. Salaries for paralegals tend to be higher in companies and large firms, and in urban areas where employers must compete for the most talented and qualified candidates. Future paralegals should keep this in mind when considering job opportunities.