Legal assistants are responsible for doing most of the administrative or clerical needs of a lawyer. They support lawyers by preparing documents for hearings or trials, conducting research for legal cases, organizing files and records, managing schedules, manning phone lines, communicating with legal clients, documenting meeting minutes, and setting up appointments. It is important for legal assistants to have a basic knowledge of laws and the judiciary system so that they can provide better support to lawyers. They should also be detail-oriented, organized, and excellent communicators.

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Legal Assistant Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real legal assistant resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Complete accounting and payroll functions.- gather and process client documents.- manage daily operations of office.
  • Manage document production with various internal departments for response to DCAA investigations and third party subpoenas.
  • Assist patent attorneys by managing invention disclosure documentation and relate correspondence with outside counsel and USPTO.
  • Relocate temporarily to Chicago, Illinois to facilitate and manage electronic discovery exchange in preparation for arbitration.
  • Perform administrative tasks for managing partner and trial attorney at a medical malpractice litigation firm including daily transcription and stenography.
  • Gather and prepare documents for binders/notebooks for depositions, arbitration, hearings/trial; manage incoming document production mostly for litigation purposes.
  • Work under close supervision of an experience general practice attorney in family law, civil litigation and criminal defense matters.
  • Prepare all types of litigation correspondence including interrogatories, request for production of documents, subpoenas, and judgment debtor examinations.
  • File/Serve via mail, fax, e-file or messenger service.
  • Draft complaint and summons on new cases and e-file with the court.
  • Type correspondence and legal documents such as preparation of summons & complaint.
  • Prepare motions by researching the relevant documents, proofreading papers, and creating the index.
  • Process services including but not limit to personal deliveries, serving of legal and/or court documents such as subpoenas and summonses.
  • Transcribe correspondence and documents from dictation.
  • Prepare general correspondence, typing and proofreading document.

Legal Assistant Job Description

When it comes to understanding what a legal assistant does, you may be wondering, "should I become a legal assistant?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, legal assistants have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 12% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of legal assistant opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 39,000.

On average, the legal assistant annual salary is $42,387 per year, which translates to $20.38 an hour. Generally speaking, legal assistants earn anywhere from $30,000 to $58,000 a year, which means that the top-earning legal assistants make $25,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

It's hard work to become a legal assistant, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a law clerk, real estate paralegal, contractor-paralegal, and corporate paralegal.

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Legal Assistant Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 12% of Legal Assistants are proficient in Litigation, Legal Correspondence, and Discovery Responses. They’re also known for soft skills such as Communication skills, Computer skills, and Research skills.

We break down the percentage of Legal Assistants that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Litigation, 12%

    Assisted sole practitioner with varied practice involving business and real estate transactions, immigration visas, and occasional employment discrimination litigation.

  • Legal Correspondence, 10%

    Prepared affidavits and exhibits and other documents, legal correspondence, organized and maintained documents in paper or electronic filing system.

  • Discovery Responses, 6%

    Prepared and forwarded subpoenas and notices of production of non-party pursuant to discovery responses and investigative work.

  • Legal Research, 6%

    Enhance attorney effectiveness by developing case information, performing legal research, monitoring calendars, and keeping cases organized.

  • Law Firm, 5%

    Supported senior partner of international law firm in management of approximately 40 litigation matters per month.

  • Subpoenas, 5%

    Managed document production with various internal departments for response to DCAA investigations and third party subpoenas.

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Some of the skills we found on legal assistant resumes included "litigation," "legal correspondence," and "discovery responses." We have detailed the most important legal assistant responsibilities below.

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a legal assistant to have happens to be communication skills. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney." Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that legal assistants can use communication skills to "communicated with opposing lawyer, clients, witnesses, insurance adjusters, medical staff, maintaining communication throughout litigation process. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling legal assistant duties is computer skills. According to a legal assistant resume, "paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support." Here's an example of how legal assistants are able to utilize computer skills: "created computer database to organize information on thousands of documents produced in litigation. "
  • Research skills is also an important skill for legal assistants to have. This example of how legal assistants use this skill comes from a legal assistant resume, "paralegals gather facts of the case and research information on relevant laws and regulations to prepare drafts of legal documents for attorneys and help them prepare for a case." Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "researched evidence for personal injury and civil litigation cases. "
  • A thorough review of lots of resumes revealed to us that "interpersonal skills" is important to completing legal assistant responsibilities. This resume example shows just one way legal assistants use this skill: "paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships" Here's an example of how this skill is used from a resume that represents typical legal assistant tasks: "provided strong interpersonal skills to intense emotional situations with clients, process payments to trustees and perform legal research. "
  • Yet another important skill that a legal assistant must demonstrate is "organizational skills." Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time This is clearly demonstrated in this example from a legal assistant who stated: "created and maintained organizational notebooks for managing principal's various arbitrations and mediations meetings. "
  • See the full list of legal assistant skills.

    Before becoming a legal assistant, 51.3% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 4.4% legal assistants went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be possible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most legal assistants have a college degree. But about one out of every six legal assistants didn't attend college at all.

    Those legal assistants who do attend college, typically earn either legal support services degrees or business degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for legal assistants include criminal justice degrees or political science degrees.

    Once you're ready to become a legal assistant, you should explore the companies that typically hire legal assistants. According to legal assistant resumes that we searched through, legal assistants are hired the most by Robert Half, Organon, and Cornerstone OnDemand. Currently, Robert Half has 141 legal assistant job openings, while there are 63 at Organon and 47 at Cornerstone OnDemand.

    But if you're interested in companies where you might earn a high salary, legal assistants tend to earn the biggest salaries at Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey Pc, Buckley King, and Brennan Manna Diamond. Take Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey Pc for example. The median legal assistant salary is $102,456. At Buckley King, legal assistants earn an average of $87,336, while the average at Brennan Manna Diamond is $81,633. You should take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies.

    View more details on legal assistant salaries across the United States.

    Some other companies you might be interested in as a legal assistant include Law Office, Skadden, and Robert Half. These three companies were found to hire the most legal assistants from the top 100 U.S. educational institutions.

    For the most part, legal assistants make their living in the professional and government industries. Legal assistants tend to make the most in the professional industry with an average salary of $47,979. The legal assistant annual salary in the finance and manufacturing industries generally make $44,375 and $43,063 respectively. Additionally, legal assistants who work in the professional industry make 31.0% more than legal assistants in the government Industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious legal assistants are:

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    What Law Clerks Do

    Law clerks are employees in a legal firm who handle clerical tasks for the office. They handle the office's official phone lines, answering incoming calls, and making outgoing calls. They also field office correspondence, often receiving incoming mail and distributing them to their addressees. They manage office documents and ensure that they are correctly filed and labeled in their respective storage bins. Law clerks help make office life more comfortable because they make sure that the office is running well. They also manage appointments and office calendars.

    We looked at the average legal assistant annual salary and compared it with the average of a law clerk. Generally speaking, law clerks receive $13,529 higher pay than legal assistants per year.

    While the salaries between these two careers can be different, they do share some of the same responsibilities. Employees in both legal assistants and law clerks positions are skilled in litigation, discovery responses, and legal research.

    These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. A legal assistant responsibility is more likely to require skills like "legal correspondence," "trial preparation," "scheduling appointments," and "affidavits." Whereas a law clerk requires skills like "legal memos," "pre-trial motions," "summary judgment," and "settlement agreements." Just by understanding these different skills you can see how different these careers are.

    Law clerks really shine in the professional industry with an average salary of $98,674. Whereas legal assistants tend to make the most money in the professional industry with an average salary of $47,979.

    The education levels that law clerks earn is a bit different than that of legal assistants. In particular, law clerks are 1.0% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a legal assistant. Additionally, they're 24.7% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Real Estate Paralegal?

    A Real Estate Paralegal helps real estate lawyers with a variety of tasks, such as offering advice to clients, doing research, and preparing documents. They collaborate with landlords, housing managers, or other real estate personnel.

    Next up, we have the real estate paralegal profession to look over. This career brings along a higher average salary when compared to a legal assistant annual salary. In fact, real estate paralegals salary difference is $26,000 higher than the salary of legal assistants per year.

    Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Legal assistants and real estate paralegals both include similar skills like "litigation," "legal research," and "law firm" on their resumes.

    But both careers also use different skills, according to real legal assistant resumes. While legal assistant responsibilities can utilize skills like "legal correspondence," "discovery responses," "trial preparation," and "scheduling appointments," some real estate paralegals use skills like "due diligence," "estoppel," "real estate transactions," and "lenders."

    Real estate paralegals may earn a higher salary than legal assistants, but real estate paralegals earn the most pay in the finance industry with an average salary of $72,649. On the other side of things, legal assistants receive higher paychecks in the professional industry where they earn an average of $47,979.

    In general, real estate paralegals study at similar levels of education than legal assistants. They're 0.9% less likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 24.7% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Contractor-Paralegal Compares

    A Contractor-Paralegal works for a law firm or corporate legal department for a specified amount of time, or for a specified task. They can be specialized in the entertainment industry or in providing services to healthcare companies and insurance providers.

    Let's now take a look at the contractor-paralegal profession. On average, these workers make higher salaries than legal assistants with a $18,299 difference per year.

    Using legal assistants and contractor-paralegals resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "litigation," "legal correspondence," and "discovery responses," but the other skills required are very different.

    There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, a legal assistant is likely to be skilled in "scheduling appointments," "affidavits," "real estate closings," and "word processing," while a typical contractor-paralegal is skilled in "in-house counsel," "contract database," "real estate," and "due diligence."

    Additionally, contractor-paralegals earn a higher salary in the finance industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $79,049. Additionally, legal assistants earn an average salary of $47,979 in the professional industry.

    Contractor-paralegals typically study at similar levels compared with legal assistants. For example, they're 1.7% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 3.4% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Corporate Paralegal

    A Corporate Paralegal helps attorneys gather information and materials in preparation for different kinds of cases, hearings, or meetings. They also work in the legal departments of large corporations and for government agencies.

    Corporate paralegals tend to earn a higher pay than legal assistants by about $25,128 per year.

    According to resumes from both legal assistants and corporate paralegals, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "litigation," "legal research," and "subpoenas. "

    While some skills are shared by these professions, there are some differences to note. "legal correspondence," "discovery responses," "law firm," and "trial preparation" are skills that have shown up on legal assistants resumes. Additionally, corporate paralegal uses skills like corporate governance, mergers, securities, and excellent organizational on their resumes.

    Corporate paralegals earn a higher salary in the finance industry with an average of $76,737. Whereas, legal assistants earn the highest salary in the professional industry.

    In general, corporate paralegals reach similar levels of education when compared to legal assistants resumes. Corporate paralegals are 2.5% more likely to earn their Master's Degree and 0.6% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What a Legal Assistant Does FAQs

    Is A Legal Assistant A Good Job?

    Yes, being a legal assistant is a good job. If you are looking for a steady day job, being a legal assistant is a good choice. If you decide to become a legal assistant, you'll be signing up for a career in a fast-evolving field where your talents and worth ethic could be the key factor of your success.

    Is A Legal Assistant The Same As A Paralegal?

    No, a legal assistant is not the same as a paralegal, although they are very similar jobs. While a legal assistant's work is more administrative, a paralegal gathers information for trials.

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