Career Definition for a Legal Research Assistant
Legal research assistants aid attorneys in preparing relevant legal research for court cases. They spend a lot of time researching information on the Internet and in libraries to discover information for depositions, meetings and court hearings. They also maintain files and keep records of the research they have conducted to help attorneys win cases and communicate with other legal staff.
|Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree in paralegal studies|
|Job Skills||Independent worker, time management, knowledge of legal terminology and research techniques|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$50,410 for paralegals and legal assistants|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||15% for paralegal and legal assistants|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Several courses in legal studies and law research are imperative for a successful career as a legal research assistant. These courses should lead to an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in paralegal studies. Completion of the associate's degree program or bachelor's degree program can take 2-4 years. Many community colleges offer these types of programs.
Legal research assistants must be independent workers because they tend to work alone to find information needed to assist their legal counterparts. Since they work in deadline-driven environments, they must be able to manage their time well. It is important that they possess knowledge of legal terminology and legal research techniques.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), paralegals and legal assistants made $50,410 as a median salary in 2017. They should expect to see an 15% increase in the number of available positions from 2016-2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The increase is thought to be due, in part, to an effort by employers to increase the efficiency of legal services and reduce costs.
Here are some other options for careers in law:
Those interested in providing support to lawyers at a law firm should also consider a career as a legal secretary. Legal secretaries prepare legal documents such as wills, motions and other court papers, in addition to managing correspondence and assisting lawyers with some research tasks. To work in this field, a high school diploma and some education in legal terminology and procedures may be all that is necessary. Legal secretaries sometimes also pursue optional professional certification to gain a competitive edge. The BLS projected a 19% decline in employment of legal secretaries during the 2016-2026 decade. It also determined that legal secretaries earned a median salary of $44,730 as of May 2017.
If working in the field of law is appealing, then becoming a lawyer is an additional career option to think about. Lawyers take on clients who need legal advice and representation. They research issues and cases, analyze evidence, prepare legal paperwork and argue cases before a judge or jury. Lawyers can specialize in areas of law such as criminal, corporate, tax, environmental and intellectual property law. To practice law, all lawyers must first graduate from a law program at an accredited school and earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. They must also pass the bar exam for their state. About 65,000 new jobs should be created for lawyers between 2016 and 2026, with an estimated job growth of 8%, according to the BLS. These legal professionals received a median salary of $119,250, as estimated in 2017 BLS figures.