What does a Legal Assistant do?
Legal Assistants are an important part of any legal team. They are the core people who perform research and organizational tasks to prepare for most hearings, trials, and other court proceedings. They gather and collate evidence, organize files and paperwork, maintain schedules and calendars, correspond with clients and witnesses, and ensure that the entire process proceeds smoothly and efficiently. Some work part-time and others full-time, and specialty areas exist, such as Litigation Legal Assistants and Senior Legal Assistants who supervise entire Paralegal teams.
Legal Assistant skills and qualifications
Performing the above duties and skills of a Legal Assistant position requires extensive, specialized knowledge. Some of the skills and qualifications of a Legal Assistant include:
- Performing legal research
- Understanding of legal terminology
- Working knowledge of civil and criminal law
- Organizational skills
- Advanced knowledge of legal software
- Typing speed of at least 70 words per minute
- Interpersonal and communication skills
- Ability to work independently and take direction
Legal Assistant experience requirements
Most Legal Assistants have at least two years’ experience working in a law office as a Legal Secretary or Administrative Assistant, with additional experience in various areas of legal practice. There are several levels of Legal Assistant, from entry-level to senior, with each having differing degrees of responsibility. Entry-level Legal Assistants, for example, may not work as closely with Attorneys in trial prep but may perform more research and administrative duties while they learn the ropes.
Legal Assistant education and training requirements
Most Legal Assistants have an associate degree in paralegal studies. Many employers prefer a higher-level education, such as a bachelor’s degree in law or paralegal studies. Some firms prefer formal training and may choose to provide it through an internship or as a Junior Legal Assistant to prepare the candidate for independent work. Some specialize in specific areas of law, such as criminal, civil, or real estate law.
Legal Assistant salary expectations
According to information from Indeed Salaries, Legal Assistants make, on average, $50,856 per year. This may vary according to experience, education, location, and the company.
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