If you’ve ever had an issue that required the expertise of an attorney, most likely, you’ve also dealt with a Paralegal or Legal Assistant in the process. As they are tasked with assisting the lawyer, they are a crucial part of the legal team and keep things running smoothly in the office.
Check out how you can become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant with minimum educational requirements!
Related Article: 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education
Table of Contents
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What does a Paralegal or Legal Assistant do?
- What are the differences between a Paralegal and a Legal Assistant?
- How do I become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
- What will I learn in an associate degree program to become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
- Do I need to be a Legal Assistant before I become a Paralegal?
- Do I need to have licensure or certifications to be a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
- What qualities would make me a good Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
- What kind of salary can I expect as a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
- Is there a demand for Paralegals or Legal Assistants?
- Can a Paralegal become a Lawyer?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does a Paralegal or Legal Assistant do?
As a Paralegal or Legal Assistant, you will be tasked with the following:
- Conduct legal research
- Gather and verify facts, researching as needed
- Keep detailed records, file and organize them
- Draft legal documents, such as contracts, mortgages, and other office correspondence
- Help attorneys prepare for trial
- Assist lawyers during trials
- File briefs and submit evidence to opposing counsel
- Schedule meetings, interviews, depositions
- Answer telephone calls
- Use applicable computer software
- And, much more!
What are the differences between a Paralegal and a Legal Assistant?
While both positions are focused on law, a Paralegal will focus on litigation work, thus requiring them to have a deeper understanding of the law. A Legal Assistant is primarily tasked with administrative duties.
How do I become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
The most popular pathway to becoming a Paralegal is to obtain an Associate of Paralegal Studies degree. However, potential employers may require a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, some may only require a certificate program approved by the American Bar Association.
To become a Legal Assistant, you may not be required to have a college degree, although a certificate program may be necessary to gain the skills needed in this field.
In addition, on-the-job training is a must!
What will I learn in an associate degree program to become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
Coursework will include classes in:
- General Paralegal Administrative Skills
- Corporate Law
- International Law
- Investigation Skills
- Writing Skills
- Civil Litigation
- Legal Research
- Legal Ethics
- Conducting Interviews
You may also be exposed to the following specializations:
- Probate Law
- Family Law
- Wills and Estate Law
- Bankruptcy Law
- Property Law
- Personal Injury Law
- Real Estate Law
- And, much more!
Do I need to be a Legal Assistant before I become a Paralegal?
Becoming a Legal Assistant first before pursuing a career as a Paralegal is a great way to receive valuable training to see if entering a Paralegal degree or certificate program is for you.
However, if you are certain of your end goal… to become a Paralegal… being a Legal Assistant first is not a requirement. But… putting in the work to earn post-secondary education will be!
Do I need to have licensure or certifications to be a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
Depending on your employer, completing a paralegal certification program may be required to get started, as well as continued education opportunities to stay on top of things.
What qualities would make me a good Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
Besides the obvious of understanding of legal terminology, the following skills will be helpful as well:
- Oral & written communication skills
- Computer skills
- Research skills
- Team player
- Organizational skills
- Time management skills
In addition, tact and empathy should be used when people come to you for help with their problems. A sympathetic heart that is prepared to help others in their hour of need truly is a must!
What kind of salary can I expect as a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?
As a Paralegal or Legal Assistant, the BLS reported average earnings of approximately $52,920 per year, as of May 2020. The highest 10% earned upwards of $85,160 annually.
Is there a demand for Paralegals or Legal Assistants?
According to the BLS, this particular field in law is projected to grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030. Over the next ten years, 43,000 openings for Paralegals and Legal Assistants will become available each year.
The future holds an interesting trend for up-and-coming Paralegals and Legal Assistants. Some law firms are combining the duties of the two positions to cut costs, and larger corporations are hiring in-house Paralegals to handle their legal issues, reducing the need for high-priced lawyer fees. In addition, a Paralegal’s services cost less for the client in general.
Can a Paralegal become a Lawyer?
Of course, you can! What better way to learn the legal system from the ground up, right? If you enjoy your job as a Paralegal, the next logical step is to open your own law practice if you’d like.