As a legal assistant or paralegal you’ll assist the lawyers when they are readying a case for meetings, hearings, and trials. Your individual duties will depend on where you work and the size of the law firm. You may have to put in long hours, especially when a trial is coming up.
Legal Assistant Job Duties
- Helping to maintain and organize the client case files
- Assisting in research and fact gathering for the case
- Drafting any necessary legal documents
- Using an e-filing system
- Getting evidence gathered and arranged to prepare for a case
- Writing a legal summary or brief
- Preparing the affidavits and any formal statements
- Handling exhibits, taking notes, and reviewing transcripts during trials
- Filing any of the exhibits, briefs, and appeals with both the court and opposing attorneys
- Arranging client, witness, and lawyer meetings
How to Become a Legal Assistant or Paralegal
The skills conducive to being an effective legal assistant are the ability to research, write, and work under often extreme pressure.
To become a paralegal, you must:
- Graduate high school or get your GED.
- In some cases, a lawyer will hire someone right from high school and train them to be a legal assistant.
- Get accepted into a legal or paralegal studies program.
- Receive your associate’s degree (or bachelor’s degree) in paralegal studies.
- Gain that work experience through an internship or a job.
- Get your certification from the National Association for Legal Assistants. It’s voluntary, but many employers like to see it on a resume.
Paralegal/Legal Assistant Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps paralegals and legal assistants together. in 2021, the median annual salary for these careers is $56,230 per year. The top ten percent can earn over $88,000.
Your salary may look different depending on the size of the law firm you work in, how much experience you have, and what state you’re in. The top paying industry for legal assistants is the federal government, and the state governments generally pay the lowest salaries.