You’re not alone in wondering, “What is a legal assistant?” Legal assistants are not the same as paralegals, despite the name.
While paralegals have a lot to offer law firms and companies, they have different positions in a legal business. On behalf of supervising attorneys, paralegals focus on substantive legal work. Legal assistants, on the other hand, operate on behalf of attorneys but are primarily concerned with administrative support. This distinction is more significant than it appears on the surface. Law companies that fail to acknowledge the specific functions of legal assistants may miss out on the value legal assistants can offer to a company.
This blog post will address the primary benefits lawyers can obtain from working with legal assistants, from the types of responsibilities legal assistants commonly take on to recruiting and working with them.
Legal Assistant Requirements
To be a legal assistant, you don’t need a degree. You don’t have to finish the Legal Practice Course or any academic coursework. However, because it is a tough career, most employers will expect you to have completed your A levels. Of course, it is dependent on the location where you are applying. If it’s a reputable firm, they’ll want a law degree or course completion.
However, if you desire this career, you must have specific talents. These abilities are:
- Excellent Communication Skills
- Observant of small details
- Skills in Analysis
- Logical Argumentation
- Deep understanding of legal concepts and terms
- Skills in Legal Analysis and Research
- Computer Organizational Skills
What steps do you need to take to work as a legal assistant?
You need to have some legal training or experience to work as a legal assistant. Some people who want to be lawyers work as legal assistants first and then apply to law school afterwards. Working as a legal assistant can help you prepare for higher-level legal employment or degrees. Here are some stages to becoming a legal assistant, depending on your professional objectives:
- Obtain a certificate by completing a programme.
Certification will help you prepare for a career as a legal assistant and may open up more job prospects. To inquire about state-approved paralegal certification programmes, contact your state bar association. After that, you must study for and pass the certification exam.
- Develop your skills.
Apply for an internship with a law firm, a government agency, a business legal department, a public defender’s office, or another legal organisation. This will help you gain the experience you’ll need to be considered for a position as a legal assistant. It could even result in a direct job offer from that company. Before aspiring legal assistants can become certified, several certification programmes require them to undergo an internship or similar training.
- Fill out a job application.
Apply for legal assistant positions with law firms, insurance firms, banks, real estate firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. You could look for work in fields like immigration, criminal, bankruptcy, family, or corporate law, which you may have studied or have a special interest in. Some organisations will recruit a legal assistant with no prior job experience, while others would demand legal experience.
What is the average salary of a legal assistant?
The average wage for a legal assistant varies depending on the size and type of law firm, the individual’s experience, and the firm’s location. Employers frequently pay legal assistants by the hour because they are usually entry-level. The majority of legal assistants work full-time, however some work part-time or on a contract basis. Click the pay link for the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed.
In the United States, the average hourly wage is $16.35
Hourly wages range from $7.25 to $32.50.
In France, a Legal Assistant earns roughly 24,800 EUR per year. Salaries range between 13,200 EUR (lowest) and 37,800 EUR (highest) (highest).
Is there a precise distinction between a paralegal and a legal assistant?
Even though the two names are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a distinction between them. The National Association of Legal Assistants created it in 2004 in the USA.
A paralegal has passed their NALA certification exam, whereas a legal assistant has not. Paralegals are more directly involved in courtroom work and legal proceedings, and they must be well-versed in their chosen field of law.
However, there are a lot of similarities between them. Billing and organising customer meetings are responsibilities that can be shared by both roles. They both conduct research for lawyers and prepare legal documents. They can also work for a corporation or as a freelancer.
Benefits of a Legal Assistant
However, many lawyers are hesitant to hire Legal Assistants because they are doubtful of their abilities and qualifications, or simply because they are unwilling to invest time in training someone who they fear will leave if a better offer comes along. An assistant can be a great asset to any law office, regardless of size.
Take a look at the list of advantages below:
- With the assistance of legal assistants, a smooth law office administration can be achieved.
The presence of Legal Assistants on the team guarantees that the office operates well and that lawyers may focus on their research and other administrative duties.
A legal assistant can help the attorney set up witness interviews, contact clients, handle travel, schedule events, and manage the lawyer’s calendar.
They do far more than just clerical and administrative work.
- Legal assistants are a cost-effective option.
The cost of employing a Legal Assistant vs. the cost of engaging a lawyer differs significantly.
Filing and research chores can be performed by Legal Assistants for a fraction of the cost of a lawyer’s hourly rate. A trained Legal Assistant can complete these activities at a very low cost without losing quality.
- Client Service at its Finest
Your clients will receive outstanding service when you engage a Legal Assistant for your firm. With them on your team, you can ensure that you keep all of your promises to your clients and that no one is forgotten, which is a common mistake made by many law firms.
Your Legal Assistant will keep in touch with your clients by sending birthday and special occasion greetings. This gives your customers a more personalised experience.