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Legal Administrative Assistant: Job Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a legal administrative assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and skills necessary to find out if this is the career for you.

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In addition to secretarial experience, legal administrative assistants need to have a knowledge of various law practices, as some of their responsibilities include preparing subpoenas and other legal documentation. An associate's degree may be preferred by some employers, although it is not always required.

Essential Information

Legal administrative assistants support legal staff by managing the day-to-day operations and clerical duties of law offices. This job only requires a high school diploma, though an associate's degree or some college education frequently leads to better job prospects.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; an associate's degree or some college education is often preferred
Other Requirements On-the-job training in legal practices and terminology
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024)* -4% (decline) for legal secretaries
Median Salary (2015)* $43,200 annually for legal secretaries

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Legal Administrative Assistant Job Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, legal administrative assistants (sometimes called legal secretaries) are professional assistants who have a substantial legal skill set in addition to their secretarial background (www.bls.gov). Along with the standard tasks of answering telephone calls and greeting clients, legal administrative assistants may also complete legal tasks delegated to them by lawyers and paralegals, such as preparing legal documents. These may include subpoenas, complaints and appeals. Other duties may include gathering information on employment and other records, maintaining law libraries, organizing case files and filling out legal forms, like courtroom requests.

Technology-Related Duties

Because today's law offices are increasingly taking advantage of computers to make legal work more efficient, the role of legal administrative assistants is also technology-intensive. Legal administrative assistants often work with spreadsheet or accounting programs, Internet-based filing and docket systems, computerized legal research databases and word processing applications.

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Legal Administrative Assistant Requirements

According to O*NET OnLine, most legal administrative assistants have either some college education or an associate's degree (www.onetonline.org). Prospective candidates may look to vocational schools and community colleges to find 1-2 certificate and associate's degree programs to prepare for their careers. Classes cover topics from word processing to legal procedures. Advanced courses may delve into civil litigation and legal research. Students may also have the opportunity to take electives in employment law, legal writing and credit law.

Certifications

Some legal administrative assistants also seek certification by a professional organization such as the National Association of Legal Secretaries. These certifications are usually awarded after the applicant has passed an exam that covers several skill areas important to the profession, such as proficiency in writing and understanding of legal concepts.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

As of 2015, legal secretaries earned an annual median salary of $43,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment growth for this group of secretaries and administrative assistants was expected to decline 4% from 2014-2024, compared to a 3% increase in employment opportunities for secretaries and administrative assistants in general, per the BLS.

Legal administrative assistants must have strong computer skills, possessing an understanding of word processing software, spreadsheets, and research databases. The two most common industries employing legal secretaries are government and legal services.

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