Why Should I Become a Legal Administrative Assistant?
Studying to become a legal administrative assistant can give you the skills you need to manage an office for an attorney, government agency, or legal department at a large corporation. The outlook for legal assistants is good and the number of jobs is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What Do Legal Administrative Assistants Do?
Legal assistants work for lawyers in public and private practices, the judicial system, the government, or large companies. They also work for the military, insurance companies, and mortgage firms. Generally, their duties include preparing and processing legal documents, such as subpoenas, complaints, motions, and summonses. They also help clients fill out forms and transcribe letters and memos. Legal administrative assistants also make copies of documents, do work on computers, and supervise staff.
Being organized and thorough can be an asset in this career since you may be responsible for doing legal research or reviewing legal journals. You may even be responsible for training new lawyers on how to prepare legal documents to submit to courts.
What Education Is Needed to Become a Legal Assistant?
While you may be able to get an entry-level job with only a high-school education, you'll need more training to move up in this career. A one- to two-year program at a business or vocational school or community college can help you become familiar with office technologies, software, and other tools used by secretaries and administrative assistants. Legal assistants should be familiar with legal terminology and processes.
Depending upon how specialized you become, certification programs can give you training in areas that include intellectual property, civil litigation, and business law. You may be required to continue your education to gain new skills and keep up with changing technology. Training and certification is offered by organizations that include the National Association of Legal Secretaries and Legal Secretaries International.
Legal administrative assistants need to be detail-oriented, able to work as part of a team or lead others, and have good oral and written communication skills. It's also helpful to be flexible and able to multi-task since you'll probably deal with different cases at the same time. There also may be situations where you'll need to be diplomatic when dealing with clients and other legal professionals. The legal profession also requires high ethics and the ability to maintain confidentiality.
Job and Salary Outlook
There were more than 4.6 million secretaries and administrative assistants in 2006, and 275,000 of them were legal secretaries, according to the BLS. By 2016 the ranks of legal administrative assistants are expected to grow to 308,000. The median annual salary for legal secretaries was $39,860 in 2008, according to the BLS. But salaries can vary depending upon where you work, your skills and certifications, and your knowledge of office technology.