Legal office assistants support lawyers by performing varied administrative tasks. Their daily functions may include interacting with clients, conducting legal research, and processing important documents. An associate's degree in paralegal studies or bachelor's degree is sometimes required.
Legal office assistants and paralegals complete many routine administrative tasks and assist lawyers with legal work, including research, court filings and client communication. Legal office assistants and paralegals often have associate's degrees, and some employers might prefer to hire those with some postsecondary education in legal studies or bachelor's degrees in other fields. Basic word processing skills and the ability to operate office equipment is also necessary.
|Required Education||Associate's degree, bachelor's degree sometimes required|
|Other Requirements||Basic word processing skills and the ability to operate office equipment|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8% for paralegals and legal assistants|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$48,810 annually for paralegals and legal assistants|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Description of a Legal Office Assistant
Legal office assistants work under the direction of lawyers and help them prepare for meetings, hearings and trials. These professionals frequently undertake research projects for multiple cases to determine precedent, draft or complete legal documents and ensure the correct paperwork is filed with the courts within a specific time period. In many cases, legal office assistants work directly with clients in a non-advising capacity, such as answering questions, scheduling appointments and making sure all court requirements are met.
Other routine tasks, such as processing and transcribing documents, entering data, scheduling and taking dictation are common duties of a legal office assistant. They could also handle typical office duties, such as answering phones, managing inventory or performing accounting tasks.
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Requirements for a Legal Office Assistant
Legal office assistants must be able to operate office equipment and perform basic word processing. Most legal assistants have associate's degrees in paralegal studies or bachelor's degrees in other fields. Certificate and associate degree programs are available through several community colleges, vocational schools and technical institutions and are specifically designed to prepare students for work as legal office assistants. Common courses in these training programs include law office practices, litigation procedures, court documentation and the fundamentals of the U.S. justice system.
Though legal office assistants aren't required to obtain certification, career advancement might prove easier for those who seek voluntary credentials as a legal assistant or paralegal. Organizations, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), offer credentials that demonstrate an individual's knowledge and expertise. Legal office assistants who wish to advance could become paralegals or enter office management positions in law practices.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 8% job growth for legal assistants and paralegals, from 2014-2024. In 2015, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $48,810 for these professionals.
Legal office assistants perform broad based administrative tasks to assist lawyers with many important aspects of their job. Some obtain an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor's degree in another field. Legal office assistants earned a median annual salary of $48,810 in 2015.