Do you have great organizational skills, an ability to research well, and in interest in the legal profession? If so, you might like to become a legal assistant.
A legal assistant is an administration role within the legal field.
In the past, much of this kind of work was done by lawyers themselves, but is now delegated to assistants.
There are many different types of legal assistants.
Some provide a secretarial service, answering phones and completing administrative duties, while others such as paralegals, have a complex role which involves legal work such as preparing a defense, legal research, and attending trials.
Education Requirements to Become a Legal Assistant
If you’re in high school you can start preparing to become a legal assistant.
Subjects like English and law will be of great assistance.
Other humanities subjects are also a good choice.
If you can get some work experience in an office environment this will also be helpful.
There are a few different education ways to become a legal assistant.
You could complete a two year associates degree at community college which is directed at those looking to work as a legal assistant.
Another choice is to complete a four year bachelors degree in criminal justice.
If you were looking at working in a role where you were completing legal work and research then the bachelors degree would be preferable.
Legal Assistant Job Description
Your job description as a legal assistant will depend on the kind of role that you are looking to work in.
As a legal secretary, you could expect to be completing diary management, greeting clients on the phone and in person, as well as some administrative tasks
Some legal assistants have a role that is more focused on the legal side of their work.
They could investigate a legal case, prepare a defense, interview witnesses, and look for precedent.
The role you take on will really depend on your preference.
With the right education you can be prepared for either.
Of course, you might prefer to do one type of work at an earlier stage in your career, and another later on when you circumstances and lifestyle changes.
Here are some of the responsibilities you might take on as a legal assistant:
- Preparing legal documents and contracts
- Preparing a legal case or defense
- Interviewing clients and witnesses
- Completing legal research
- Attending a trial
- Answering phone calls
- Taking client inquiry
- Meeting with clients
Legal Assistant Salary and Career Path
When you become a legal assistant, it’s likely you will begin your career in an administration role.
You could also start our working as an assistant to an experienced paralegal.
With some experience you could expect to move on to more complex roles.
Legal assistants work for lawyers, judges, public defenders, and within the court system.
In a smaller firm, a legal assistant would have a much broader range of duties, whereas in a larger firm they are expected to specialize in a particular area.
If you are looking for advancement then a larger firm is the best place for the most opportunity.
Many legal assistants work a forty hour week, but those in more involved legal roles might be expected to work overtime.
With this in mind, they also receive many benefits such as paid leave as well as health and dental insurance.
The median wage for a legal assistant is $45,000 a year.
The top 10% of earners make more than $70,000 a year.
Some similar roles to that of legal assistant include:
Some legal assistants will be promoted to the more demanding and challenging work of a paralegal.
Some complete further study to become lawyers themselves.
Others move on to administration roles such as an office manager.
A good source on further information on a career as a legal assistant is The National Association of Legal Assistants.
If you are interested in the law and are a strong student of the humanities, then you might like to become a legal assistant.
There is lots of variation in the roles offered in this field, and once you have completed your initial qualification, there will be many different opportunities to work in various roles.
There is also plenty of opportunity for professional development.