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Working As A Senior Legal Assistant

  • 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

  • $54,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Legal Assistant 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 Senior Legal Assistant

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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Senior Legal Assistant Career Paths

Senior Legal Assistant
Senior Paralegal Paralegal/Office Manager Office Manager
Business Office Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Paralegal Paralegal/Office Manager Owner
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Paralegal Office Manager General Manager
Managing Partner
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Paralegal
7 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Owner Vice President
Vice President And Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Paralegal/Office Manager Owner President
Commissioner
5 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Operations Manager Property Manager
Director Of Property Management
6 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Account Manager
Client Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Account Manager Property Manager
Real Estate Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Manager And Legal Assistant Executive Assistant/Office Manager Operations Director
Compliance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Office Manager And Legal Assistant Manager Property Manager
Compliance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Office Manager And Legal Assistant Owner/Manager Board Member
Trustee
6 Yearsyrs
Manager Department Manager Administrative Manager
Human Resources Administration Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Manager Account Manager Client Services Manager
Client Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Business Owner Business Office Manager
Accounts Receivable Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Business Manager Treasurer
Accountant And Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager General Manager Center Manager
Collections Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Executive Assistant Office Manager/Administrative Assistant
Office Manager Of Human Resources
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Executive Assistant Executive Assistant To General Manager Office Manager/Administrative Assistant
Office Manager And Legal Assistant
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Senior Legal Assistant?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Paralegal 5.3 years
Legal Secretary 5.0 years
Paralegal 3.7 years
Legal Assistant 3.6 years
Legal Technician 3.3 years
Legal Clerk 2.3 years
Legal Aide 1.7 years
Top Careers Before Senior Legal Assistant
Paralegal 8.9%
Internship 3.3%
Secretary 2.7%
Law Clerk 1.6%
Top Careers After Senior Legal Assistant
Paralegal 14.9%
Attorney 2.2%
Internship 1.9%

Do you work as a Senior Legal Assistant?

Average Yearly Salary
$54,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$32,000
Min 10%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$92,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Aetna
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
5.1 years
How much does a Senior Legal Assistant make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Legal Assistant in the United States is $54,798 per year or $26 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $32,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $92,000.

Real Senior Legal Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Legal Assistant Petrochina International (America), Inc. Houston, TX Sep 10, 2015 $150,000
Senior Legal Assistant Petrochina International (America), Inc. Houston, TX Oct 09, 2016 $150,000
Senior Legal Council Tata Consultancy Services Limited New York, NY Apr 20, 2015 $125,400
Senior Legal Assisstant Petrochina International (America), Inc. Houston, TX Sep 10, 2012 $90,000
Senior Legal Assistant Cedar ZEN USA LLC South San Francisco, CA Nov 15, 2010 $64,500
Senior Legal Assistant Lan & Associates, P.C. NY Aug 26, 2016 $60,293
Senior Legal Assistant Huang Law Offices LLC Norcross, GA Aug 30, 2016 $56,701
Senior Legal Assistant Huang Law Offices LLC Norcross, GA Sep 15, 2016 $56,701
Senior Legal Assistant Lan & Associates, P.C. NY Aug 26, 2016 $56,641
Senior Legal Assistant Lan & Associates, P.C. NY Aug 17, 2014 $56,641
SR. Legal Support Saleh & Associates, P.A. Coral Gables, FL Mar 23, 2016 $49,234
SR. Legal Assistant Pannun The Firm PC NY Oct 01, 2013 $49,000 -
$50,000
Senior Legal Assistant Law Offices of Misbah Chaudhry Houston, TX Jul 31, 2016 $46,874
Senior Legal Assistant Slawek W. Platta, PLLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $43,576

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Top Skills for A Senior Legal Assistant

  1. Legal Documents
  2. Trial Preparation
  3. Counsel
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared and drafted legal documents for filing with courts and necessary document correspondence.
  • Prepared motions and subpoenas for discovery and trial and participated in trial preparation.
  • Established and maintained effective relationships with clients, opposing counsel and court staff with clear communication channels to ensure effective representation.
  • Assist with the processing of institutional contracts involving procurement, real estate, professional services and educational affiliation agreements.
  • Organized international and domestic travel arrangements and processed expense reports through GEER Expense Reporting System.

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Legal Assistants

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Connecticut
  3. Washington
  4. Nevada
  5. Colorado
  6. Texas
  7. California
  8. Illinois
  9. Minnesota
  10. Massachusetts
  • (79 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (72 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)
  • (191 jobs)
  • (356 jobs)
  • (102 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (55 jobs)

Senior Legal Assistant Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 2,005 Senior Legal Assistant resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Senior Legal Assistant Resume

View Resume Examples

Senior Legal Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

76.4%

Male

14.5%

Unknown

9.2%
Ethnicity

White

57.8%

Hispanic or Latino

19.5%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.5%

French

8.5%

German

5.3%

Japanese

4.3%

Arabic

3.2%

Portuguese

2.1%

Chinese

2.1%

Turkish

2.1%

Russian

2.1%

Dari

2.1%

Italian

2.1%

Khmer

1.1%

Ukrainian

1.1%

Galician

1.1%

Persian

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Korean

1.1%

Cantonese

1.1%
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Senior Legal Assistant Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.1%

New York University

8.1%

University of Miami

5.9%

George Washington University

5.4%

University of Houston

5.4%

Kaplan University

5.4%

Roosevelt University

4.8%

Brooklyn Law School

4.3%

Georgetown University

4.3%

Adelphi University

4.3%

Northeastern University

4.3%

University of South Florida

3.8%

San Francisco State University

3.8%

Florida Atlantic University

3.8%

University of Connecticut

3.8%

Miami Dade College

3.8%

Broward College

3.8%

Florida International University

3.8%

University of San Francisco

3.2%

Center for Advanced Legal Studies

3.2%
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Majors

Legal Support Services

24.1%

Business

20.3%

Law

12.5%

Criminal Justice

6.5%

Political Science

4.8%

Legal Studies

4.0%

English

3.6%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

3.4%

Psychology

3.0%

Accounting

2.9%

Education

1.9%

Management

1.8%

Communication

1.6%

Human Resources Management

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.5%

Finance

1.5%

Sociology

1.4%

Marketing

1.2%

Public Administration

1.2%

Health Care Administration

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.0%

Other

20.4%

Certificate

13.9%

Masters

11.5%

Associate

10.6%

Doctorate

9.4%

Diploma

1.7%

License

0.5%
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Top Senior Legal Assistant Employers

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Senior Legal Assistant Videos

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