As a legal assistant you’ll be responsible for a wide variety of tasks and duties at the law or legal office that you’ll work at. Depending on the type of legal professional you’ll work with it could include collecting and gathering important documents that will assist the lawyers in trial. Often legal assistants do a great deal of research for their law firm. They will be given a task to perform that could include finding out facts and researching affidavits and court documents. The main duty is to provide support to the law team you are working with and gathering and organizing legal documents for court. One thing you won’t be able to do as a legal assistant or paralegal is give legal advice. Legal advice can only be given by a licensed lawyer.
When deciding on what career path you’ll need to first decide when you would like to enter the market. If finding a job as soon as possible is your goal then enrolling in a legal assistant program is your best bet. Legal assistant programs can be 6-12 months in length and many can be taken online. The cost of these training programs can range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the school so make sure you research trade schools in your area first. A paralegal takes more education and is considered a more prestigious career in law. As a paralegal you can earn your Bachelor’s degree which is also a great way to make your experience stand out when looking for a job. Most lawyers will want someone with a paralegal degree. A typical paralegal degree from an accredited college runs between $20,000-$50,000. One of the advantages of getting your Bachelor’s degree is that if you ever decide after working for a law firm you want to become a lawyer then you’ll already have a lot of the pre-requisites needed to apply for law school.
Salaries and Work
A simple search online will show you the vast amount of companies that are looking for trained paralegals and legal assistants. Some of the things these companies look for in a candidate include:
- The ability to multi-task and work well in a close team environment.
- Have a great positive attitude and be able to communicate with clients and team both verbally and in proper grammar.
- Have the ability to organize files and prepare them accurately to lawyers.
- Very detailed oriented, organized and reliable. Be able to come to work each day with a professional, positive work attitude.
- Be experienced in Microsoft Office products and be willing and eager to learn.
- Understand the court system and be able to file legal documents in court based on the instructions from the legal team.
- Have the ability to create and modify documents including supporting other legal departments.
- Create agendas and transcribe minutes for all minutes.
- Demonstrate strong attention to details and a high standard of excellence including ethics and integrity.
- Be able to maintain confidentiality in all aspects of the clients, staff and external vendors that you will be required to work with on case information.
- Have the ability to docket and calendar case deadlines making sure things run smoothly.
As you can see becoming a legal assistant or paralegal can be a very promising and satisfying career. To be successful you’ll need to not only have had trained in school but have the right attitude.
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