Legal Administrative Assistant: Salary and Career Facts
Explore the career requirements for legal administrative assistants. Get the facts about salary, job duties, education requirements and career outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Is a Legal Administrative Assistant?
Legal administrative assistants are also known as paralegals, legal assistants or legal secretaries. They primarily work in offices and perform clerical tasks under the supervision of lawyers. They may research matters pertaining to a case. They may also prepare documents for court or invoices for clients. They may answer calls, greet guests, schedule appointments, update files and file documents. Legal secretaries do not necessarily need postsecondary training, but paralegals and legal assistants typically need an associate's degree.
|Education Required||High school diploma, but there are associate's degree programs in paralegal studies|
|Key Skills||Communication, research, writing, organization|
|Certification||Certification is optional|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||-21% for legal secretaries; 12% for paralegals and legal assistants|
|Median Salary (2018)||$46,360 for legal secretaries; $50,940 for paralegals and legal assistants|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Activities Does a Legal Administrative Assistant Perform?
O*NET OnLine indicates that legal administrative assistants may also be referred to as legal assistants, secretaries or litigation assistants (www.onetonline.org). While job descriptions and duties vary, legal administrative assistants provide various levels of support to individual attorneys, corporations, law firms, government offices and other agencies within the public and private sector. While performing this job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that you'll probably use various types of office equipment and computer software (www.bls.gov). This may include desktop publishing and word processing software, database management systems and other relevant technology, such as video-conferencing programs and equipment. You may also conduct library and Internet research, manage documents and case files and handle travel arrangements.
What Skills Do I Need?
In general, the BLS states that you would need a working knowledge of legal terminology, computer, communication, research and writing skills. This is due to the likelihood that you'll handle formal business and legal documents, such as correspondence, motions, summonses and subpoenas. You may also engage in fact checking and assist new lawyers with document preparation and court procedures.
If your position requires you to function as a legal assistant, or paralegal, then the BLS indicates you're likely to handle tasks that used to be provided exclusively by lawyers. You may, for example, assist attorneys with their closings and hearings, research relevant laws and judicial precedents and even provide preliminary drafts of contracts and motions.
Litigation paralegals, while similar to legal assistants, may have increased responsibility, according to the BLS. This may include the opportunity to prepare and present public or in-house material on laws, policies and regulations. In some cases, and when legally authorized, you may be able to represent clients in situations such as administrative hearings.
What Type of Training Do I Need?
The BLS indicates that there is more than one way to become a paralegal. If you're currently enrolled in college, you may want to consider obtaining an associate's degree in paralegal studies. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you may want to look into obtaining a certificate in paralegal studies. Some businesses and firms may provide on-the-job training as well.
You can also voluntarily pursue professional certification. There are a variety of organizations that may assist you in your search. According to the BLS, these include the National Association of Legal Assistants, the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc., the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the National Association of Legal Secretaries. Each one of these organizations provides information or certification, recertification and other continuing education opportunities necessary for obtaining or maintaining your credentials.
What Salary Could I Expect?
According to the BLS May 2018 wage report for legal secretaries, the median wage was $46,360 per year. The median wage for paralegals was $50,940 per year.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
The work that secretaries, administrative assistants and receptionists perform is similar to the work that a legal administrative assistant does. Secretaries perform many clerical tasks, such as preparing documents and filing paperwork. Receptionists greet guests, answer phones and schedule appointments. Administrative assistants may also schedule appointments, prepare paperwork and file documents. Postsecondary training is not necessarily required to begin a career as a secretary, administrative assistant or receptionist.