As a legal assistant, you will spend a large portion of your day carrying out activities for the benefit of a lawyer. You might assemble a case’s facts or arrange papers; you might even aid the attorney in getting ready for a trial. You are ready to assist the lawyer with whatever task they require you to complete.
Although a large percentage of legal aides work for legal firms or perhaps even government bodies, there are many different industries where you might obtain employment.
You should probably obtain your associate’s degree or at the very least a paralegal studies certificate if you want to work as a legal assistant. In some cases, employers will only consider applicants having a bachelor’s degree. You should anticipate some on-the-job training in either case.
How a Legal Assistant Works
Many legal assistants need to possess specific talents to carry out their duties. We were able to focus on the most typical competencies for someone in this position by looking through resumes. We found that a lot of resumes listed research, computer, and communication skills.
Job Description for a legal assistant
Legal assistants collaborate with attorneys to ensure that their cases are handled effectively. They might prepare drafts of legal papers, check them before the lawyer signs them, provide preliminary recommendations on important matters, schedule appointments, and perform other administrative tasks.
Career routes and typical salaries
The average yearly pay for a legal assistant is $32,593, or $15.67 per hour, according to Indeed Salary. A professional’s career path generally begins with being a legal assistant.
Getting a Job as a Legal Assistant
How much schooling you need is one of the most important things to think about if you’re interested in working as a legal assistant. 51.3% of legal assistants, according to our research, hold a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education, we discovered that master’s degrees are held by 4.4% of legal assistants. Even though most legal assistants hold a college degree, you can still work in the field with just a high school diploma or GED.
1. Get all the necessary education
Someone seeking to work as a legal assistant is advised to pursue a two-year associate degree in paralegal studies or a related field. A bachelor’s degree may be required by some employers, so it’s a good idea to pursue your education as far as you can.
Students who pursue paralegal studies degrees are taught legal writing and the several categories of law that legal professionals are likely to encounter. If there isn’t a paralegal studies degree in your area, you could instead study a related subject like criminology.
A legal assistant certification is probably provided by your state bar association. Although it’s not necessarily necessary for students to pursue certification to find employment, some employers do filter through resumes in search of certified legal assistants (CLA).
2. Look for jobs with local businesses.
Visit the career services department of your law school. Their job is to help you get employment; take advantage of this! Get names of companies where graduates and students have found employment. You can find out which law firms could be interested in employing students from your school using this information.
3. Check online job portals
Search LinkedIn for former students from your law school. To locate former students from your law school in the city and state of your choice, try utilizing the “people” and “all filters” search options.
You may also use this to uncover the names of companies that have employed graduates of your law school. To find law firms by practice area, size, or geography, try using a reliable legal search engine like Martindale.
(The career services office at your law school may be able to recommend additional search engines, such as internal directories.) Finding legal firms that handle the area of law you wish to obtain expertise in is made easy using this method.
4. Prepare your resume.
You can find solace in the fact that the majority of students have little to no prior legal training when they enroll in law school. That’s fine, but it doesn’t imply that the first page of your resume should be blank. Make sure your law school resume complies with these guidelines before contacting prospective law firms or other companies.
5. Look for an internship or volunteer experience
It could be advisable to participate in summertime volunteer work if you lack significant legal experience. While there are no classes, it might be for eight to ten weeks. This is frequently a fantastic approach to acquiring pertinent practical legal experience. Consider this work as a component of your legal training that you will use in the real world, much like the training you may receive in a legal clinic at your law school.
6. Look for hiring firms
Find someone at the legal firm who has “hiring power” once you’ve made a list of the law firms you’d like to work for. This person has the authority to decide which interns should be recruited. A leader in the legal firm, such as a partner, member, or director of recruiting, is someone you can presume to have “hiring power” if you’re an outsider. You can attempt to get in touch with one of those individuals; law firms also include contact details for their lawyers on their websites.
Give them a well-written, specifically tailored, and brief email outlining your services and goals, emphasizing why you believe the company is the ideal fit for you. Send your resume along and observe the results. If you don’t hear back after a week or so, don’t be scared to send a polite follow-up email.
This strategy, in my experience, performs very effectively when aimed at small legal firms with less than 25 practitioners and/or law firms situated outside of large cities. These modest suburban legal offices frequently receive few requests for internships from law students. They frequently value a pupil who makes an effort.