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Legal Research Assistant Employment Information

Learn about the job responsibilities of a legal research assistant. Find out what education is needed, and check the employment outlook and salary information in order to make the right career decision.

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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 (2015)* $48,810 for paralegals and legal assistants
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% for paralegal and legal assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

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.

Skills Required

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 $48,810 as a median salary in 2015. They should expect to see an 8% increase in the number of available positions from 2014-2024, which is about 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.

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Alternative Careers

Here are some other options for careers in law:

Legal Secretary

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 4% decline in employment of legal secretaries during the 2014-2024 decade. It also determined that legal secretaries earned a median salary of $43,200 as of May 2015.

Lawyer

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 43,800 new jobs should be created for lawyers between 2014 and 2024, with an estimated job growth of 6%, according to the BLS. These legal professionals received a median salary of $115,820, as estimated in 2015 BLS figures.

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