How Much Does a Legal Assistant Earn?
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Legal Assistants are trained legal professionals who work with lawyers to provide a variety of different services for clients who need legal advice or assistance. They usually work under the guidance or supervision of a lawyer to provide support and assistance with their legal duties.
Legal Assistants can be found in a variety of working environments, including the public and private sector. They work with big law firms, private practices and sometimes in large corporations who have the need for ongoing legal assistance. They may specialize in one specific area of law, but their skills are usually more general and suited to any field of law.
Legal Assistants have a range of job duties that are all related to providing support and assistance to clients and attorneys throughout every aspect of legal proceedings. Their job duties include:
People in this profession complete, file and maintain paperwork and other legal documentation in paper or electronic form.
Legal Assistants have a variety of research duties. This may include but is not limited to researching clients and competitors in online databases, exploring laws and regulations that may be relevant to their cases, and investigating case information.
These legal professionals also take care of the scheduling for the cases they have been assigned. This means monitoring and meeting documentation deadlines, scheduling meetings and appointments for legal proceedings, and keeping track of the progress of their cases. To this end, they will usually handle all the preparations for meetings with clients and other lawyers and set up times for meetings, depositions and interviews.
Legal Assistants draft legal documents such as contracts and mortgages ready to be submitted to lawyers for approval or amendment before they are presented to clients.
People in this profession do not conduct trials themselves. However, they do they perform a range of duties that help prepare lawyers for trial. This includes writing and summarizing reports and research information that might be relevant in the trial and preparing all the required legal documentation such as affidavits and formal statements.
Legal Assistants may have to file all the documentation with the court and with the opposing counsel so the legal proceedings can go forward. This usually includes preparing and filing documents such as exhibits, appeals and briefs.
Legal Assistants can help lawyers during trials as well. They are often present in the courtroom, taking notes on the proceedings and handling exhibits so the lawyer can focus on what they are doing and still review the minutia of the trial later to check for problems or concerns. They may also review court transcripts if they cannot be physically present with the same aims.
One of the most important tasks these professionals need to undertake is to ensure that their clients are fully updated on the case and understand what is happening and what is going to happen. This means they have to communicate regularly with their clients, especially when anything new develops.
Legal Assistants are important because they perform some of the duties that were once taken care of by attorneys and free them up to deal with clients or to appear in court. Without their assistance, lawyers would spend all of their time doing paperwork and would have little time to actually practice law.
Legal Assistants are also important because of the complexity of the paperwork and procedures involved in the legal profession. Because they are primarily focused on this area, they are experts at ensuring that all the legalities are met properly and can help lawyers from making potentially costly mistakes with documentation and other paperwork.
They also assist with client understanding and take a more personal role in the relationship, helping clients fully understand the legal process, which can be essential in making them feel comfortable and safe.
Most legal assistants work in law offices, though some of them may work in big corporations that need a lot of legal assistance. Most of their work is performed within the office setting, though they may have to travel when they need to gather information or be present during a trial.
Legal assistants usually work normal office hours, from 9 to 5, but may have to work longer sometimes to meet deadlines or when a particular case proves to be time sensitive or problematic.
The environment at law offices can be extremely high stress, with a lot of deadlines and very high expectations, so people in this profession need to be prepared for this kind of setting.
Most Legal Assistants still work in offices, but it is now possible for them to their work from home. Hiring full time Legal Assistants can be expensive, and for smaller or mid-sized firms it can be easier and more cost effective to hire someone online. This allows the law firm to get help when they need it at a much reduced cost.
For people in this profession, there can be a number of benefits to this kind of position as well. It allows them to work from the comfort of their own home, mostly within the confines of their own schedule, and it means they can avoid working with bad employers. Any work an online Legal Assistant does must be checked by a lawyer before it can be sent to a client, and they are not permitted to provide legal advice to clients on their own. But apart from that, their job duties would be the same as if they were working in a law office.
There’s a lot to learn in a Legal Assistant Degree Program. Students have to do a variety of courses that will prepare them to work in the highly competitive field of law. Some of the most important things taught during this course are:
There are three ways to become a Legal Assistant. The first and most common is to complete an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. This is a postsecondary qualification that aims to teach students the basic skills and knowledge needed to work as a Legal Assistant. It usually takes around 2 years to complete and students will enjoy more job prospects and better pay once they have completed this course. Admission into these types of courses is simple as there are no prerequisites for admission. These courses may also include an internship to allow students to get training on the job.
The second way to move into this profession is to first complete a bachelor degree in an unrelated subject before completing a certificate in paralegal studies. This is also a very common way for applicants to move into this field, because not many institutions offer paralegal studies at the degree level. Students who choose this route will have to complete an intensive certification course that usually includes on the job training.
The third route into this profession is to be hired without training and trained on the job for the position. This is still a legal way to move into this profession, but it can result in lower wages and less advantageous working conditions. Most applicants prefer to get the formal education these days so they can ask for better wages and conditions.
Applicants who want to be a Legal Assistant don’t have to be certified to get a job, though many potential employers prefer it. As such, there are a number of schools and institutions that offer certification through their legal courses, but no set criteria for certification.
Professional certification exams are offered through three nationally recognized professional organizations. These are: The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and The Association for Legal Professionals (NALS). These associations offer a standardized assessment of the applicant’s legal skills and knowledge, and attaining this certification can mean better job prospects and higher wages.
Once certified, Legal Assistants are often referred to as paralegals, though this term is often used interchangeably with Legal Assistant.
Legal Assistants need a combination of hard and soft skills to be able to do their job properly and provide lawyers and clients with the support and assistance they need. Some of the skills they require include:
Being a Legal Assistant can offer a number of life and career benefits. These include:
The job outlook for Legal Assistants has been increasing steadily over the last few years and should continue to grow into the future. According to the BLS, employment in this field should grow 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Legal Assistants with strong computer skills should enjoy even better employment prospects in this time period as an understanding of various technologies and programs becomes even more vital for people in this position. There’s also a good chance that the job duties of Legal Assistants will grow and expand with time as they take over tasks previously completed by other legal support workers.
Trained and experienced Legal Assistants can advance their careers in a number of ways. They can continue in their original path, but move upwards into better companies and assist lawyers who attract higher paying clients. Moving into positions like these means they will be offered higher pay as well. They can even move into a supervisory position and work at the head of a team of similarly qualified legal professionals.
A great number of Legal Assistants choose to go back to school and complete their training to become lawyers themselves. This offers them the opportunity to demand better pay and take on greater responsibility.
They can also move into fields such as real estate or business where their legal skills and computer skills are usually in high demand.
There are several professions that are similar to being a Legal Assistant. These include:
Legal Secretaries focus more on the administrative duties in a law firm, though their job duties are closely related to those of Legal Assistants. They typically have less understanding of and training in the legal side of the business and focus on the administrative rather than the legal side of proceedings.
Lawyers oversee Legal Assistants and are usually in charge of legal cases and trials. To be a lawyer, applicants need at least a Bachelor’s Degree and often further education and training.
Court reporters are present in court during trials and they transcribe everything that is said during the trial into written form. They do this using voice recording equipment, machine shorthand or voice writing equipment. They produce and keep written records of everything that occurs for future reference.
People in these two professions have very similar job duties. Their role is to oversee and try to mediate legal disagreements. They do this by encouraging discussion and negotiation between disputing parties so conflicts can be resolved outside of the court system in a way that makes both parties happy.