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Working As A Legal Clerk

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $47,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Legal Clerk Do

Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.

Duties

Paralegals and legal assistants typically do the following:

  • Investigate and gather the facts of a case
  • Conduct research on relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles
  • Organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing systems
  • Gather and arrange evidence and other legal documents for attorney review and case preparation
  • Write or summarize reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
  • Draft correspondence and legal documents, such as contracts and mortgages
  • Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
  • Help lawyers during trials by handling exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing trial transcripts
  • File exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
  • Call clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors to schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions

Paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. 

Paralegals use technology and computer software for managing and organizing the increasing amount of documents and data collected during a case. Many paralegals use computer software to catalog documents, and to review documents for specific keywords or subjects. Because of these responsibilities, paralegals must be familiar with electronic database management and be current on the latest software used for electronic discovery. Electronic discovery refers to all electronic materials obtained by the parties during the litigation or investigation. These materials may be emails, data, documents, accounting databases, and websites.

Paralegals’ specific duties often vary depending on the area of law in which they work.

Corporate paralegals, for example, often help lawyers prepare employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and companies’ annual financial reports. Corporate paralegals may monitor and review government regulations to ensure that the corporation is aware of new legal requirements.

Litigation paralegals maintain documents received from clients, conduct research for lawyers, retrieve and organize evidence for use at depositions and trials, and draft settlement agreements. Some litigation paralegals may also help coordinate the logistics of attending a trial, including reserving office space, transporting exhibits and documents to the courtroom, and setting up computers and other equipment.

Paralegals may also specialize in other legal areas, such as personal injury, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate.

Specific job duties may also vary by the size of the law firm.

In small firms, paralegals’ duties tend to vary more. In addition to reviewing and organizing documents, paralegals may prepare written reports that help lawyers determine how to handle their cases. If lawyers decide to file lawsuits on behalf of clients, paralegals may help draft documents to be filed with the court.

In large organizations, paralegals may work on a particular phase of a case, rather than handling a case from beginning to end. For example, paralegals may only review legal material for internal use, maintain reference files, conduct research for lawyers, or collect and organize evidence for hearings. After gaining experience, a paralegal may become responsible for more complicated tasks.

Paralegals and legal assistants often work in teams with attorneys, fellow paralegals, and other legal support staff.

Unlike the work of other administrative and legal support staff employed in a law firm, the paralegal’s work is billed to the client.

Paralegals may have frequent interactions with clients and third-party vendors. In addition, experienced paralegals may assume supervisory responsibilities, such as overseeing team projects or delegating work to other paralegals.

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How To Become A Legal Clerk

Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies.

Education

There are several paths a person can take to become a paralegal. Candidates can enroll in a community college paralegal program to earn an associate’s degree. However, many employers prefer, or even require, applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

Because only a small number of schools offer bachelor’s and master's degrees in paralegal studies, applicants typically have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and earn a certificate in paralegal studies.

Associate’s and bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies usually offer paralegal training courses in legal research, legal writing, and the legal applications of computers, along with courses in other academic subjects, such as corporate law and international law. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for people who already hold college degrees.

Employers sometimes hire college graduates with no legal experience or legal education and train them on the job. In these cases, the new employee may have experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such tax preparation, nursing, or criminal justice.

Other Experience

In many cases, employers prefer candidates who have at least 1 year of experience in a law firm or other office setting. In addition, a technical understanding of a specific legal specialty can be helpful. For example, a personal-injury law firm may desire a paralegal with a background in nursing or health administration.

Work experience in a law firm or other office setting is particularly important for people who do not have formal paralegal training.

Many paralegal training programs offer an internship, in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a private law firm, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a corporate legal department, a legal aid organization, or a government agency. Internship experience helps students improve their technical skills and can enhance their employment prospects.

Certifications

Although not required, some employers may prefer to hire applicants who have completed a paralegal certification program. Many national and local paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to students able to pass an exam. Other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications for paralegals who meet certain experience and education criteria. For more information about paralegal certifications, see the More Info section.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney.

Computer skills. Paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support. They also use computer programs for organizing and maintaining important documents.

Interpersonal skills. Paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships. They must make clients feel comfortable sharing personal information related to their cases.

Organizational skills. Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time. They must adapt quickly to changing deadlines.

Research skills. Paralegals need good research and investigative skills to conduct legal research.

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Legal Clerk Career Paths

Legal Clerk
Attorney Partner Owner
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Attorney Partner Vice President
Vice President And Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Attorney Partner President
Board Of Directors Member
8 Yearsyrs
Law Clerk Consultant General Manager
Managing Partner
9 Yearsyrs
Law Clerk Consultant Office Manager
Business Office Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Law Clerk Consultant Assistant Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Paralegal Legal Secretary Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Paralegal Executive Assistant Office Manager
Office Manager Of Human Resources
6 Yearsyrs
Paralegal Executive Assistant Account Executive
Vice President, Business Development
13 Yearsyrs
Legal Secretary Litigation Paralegal
Senior Paralegal
7 Yearsyrs
Legal Secretary Owner Director
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Contract Attorney Senior Associate Director
Chief Of Staff
7 Yearsyrs
Contract Attorney Senior Associate Senior Accountant
Accountant And Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Contract Attorney Senior Associate President
Commissioner
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Attorney Adjunct Professor Senior Accountant
Accounts Receivable Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Litigation Paralegal Supervisor Unit Manager
Collections Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Litigation Paralegal Contracts Administrator Office Manager/Administrative Assistant
Office Manager And Legal Assistant
5 Yearsyrs
Fellow Liaison Legal Assistant
Senior Legal Assistant
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Assistant Contracts Administrator Senior Paralegal
Legal Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Attorney Corporate Counsel Legal Counsel
Legal Department Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Legal Clerk?

Legal Clerk Demographics

Gender

Female

54.4%

Male

35.4%

Unknown

10.2%
Ethnicity

White

56.8%

Hispanic or Latino

19.5%

Black or African American

11.7%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.7%

French

9.4%

Mandarin

4.1%

Italian

3.8%

Chinese

3.8%

German

2.9%

Korean

2.3%

Portuguese

2.3%

Japanese

2.3%

Arabic

2.3%

Hindi

2.1%

Russian

2.1%

Urdu

1.8%

Hebrew

1.2%

Tagalog

1.2%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Greek

0.6%

Polish

0.6%

Swedish

0.3%

Samoan

0.3%
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Legal Clerk Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

13.1%

Southwestern Law School

5.9%

George Washington University

5.5%

South Texas College of Law

5.3%

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

5.3%

Kaplan University

5.1%

University of Texas at Austin

5.1%

University of Houston

4.7%

American University

4.7%

Texas Tech University

4.5%

Suffolk University

4.5%

John Marshall Law School

4.3%

Tidewater Community College

4.3%

Arizona State University

4.1%

Santa Clara University

4.1%

Thomas M. Cooley Law School

3.9%

Southern Methodist University

3.9%

New York Law School

3.9%

University of Miami

3.9%

DePaul University

3.7%
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Majors

Law

34.7%

Business

13.9%

Criminal Justice

8.1%

Legal Support Services

7.9%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

5.2%

Political Science

5.1%

Psychology

2.9%

Accounting

2.8%

English

2.3%

Health Care Administration

1.9%

Communication

1.9%

Legal Studies

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.7%

General Studies

1.6%

Management

1.5%

Finance

1.5%

History

1.5%

Education

1.4%

Human Resources Management

1.3%

Sociology

1.2%
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Degrees

Doctorate

29.2%

Bachelors

27.4%

Other

16.0%

Associate

10.3%

Masters

9.8%

Certificate

6.1%

Diploma

1.1%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$47,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$27,000
Min 10%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
SYNNEX
Highest Paying City
San Luis Obispo, CA
Highest Paying State
Maryland
Avg Experience Level
2.3 years
How much does a Legal Clerk make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Legal Clerk in the United States is $47,690 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $81,000.

Real Legal Clerk Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Legal Clerk Shiboleth LLP New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $62,610
Legal Clerk LKP Global Law, LLP Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2013 $60,106
Foreign Legal Clerk Jiang & Associates, P.C. New York, NY Dec 01, 2009 $60,000
Legal Clerk Intellipro Group, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Nov 20, 2015 $55,000
Senior Legal Clerk Law Offices of Luisito L. Lopez Carson, CA Jan 08, 2016 $53,615
Senior Legal Clerk Law Offices of Luisito L. Lopez Carson, CA Sep 01, 2015 $52,885
Legal Clerk Law Offices of Guang Jun Gao NY Dec 01, 2011 $45,500
Legal Clerk Law Offices of Guang Jun Gao NY Sep 01, 2012 $42,500
Legal Clerk Lee Litigation Group, PLLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2013 $42,000

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Top Skills for A Legal Clerk

  1. Legal Documents
  2. Court Hearings
  3. Trial Preparation
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed legal research as needed/required and creates original legal documents.
  • Transcribed documents, such as but not limited to, police interrogatories, depositions, and court hearings.
  • Conducted on site trial preparation including assembly of exhibits, summarizing of depositions and assisting with witness preparation.
  • Resolved problems related to correct data entry procedures.
  • Summarized depositions, interviewed new clients, drafted discovery questions, and answered discovery.

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Top 10 Best States for Legal Clerks

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Connecticut
  3. Washington
  4. Nevada
  5. Colorado
  6. New Jersey
  7. Illinois
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Texas
  10. Alaska
  • (75 jobs)
  • (66 jobs)
  • (166 jobs)
  • (32 jobs)
  • (110 jobs)
  • (314 jobs)
  • (218 jobs)
  • (125 jobs)
  • (371 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)

Top Legal Clerk Employers

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