Legal assistants, formally known as paralegals, are an important part of the legal machinery in the US. These are people who act as helpers to attorneys and help them in several aspects of preparing and arguing their cases. It can be easily said that without legal assistants, it would be very difficult for attorneys to handle their various tasks. Naturally, there’s quite a demand for these jobs throughout the nation. Probably you are thinking of getting into this profession as well. However, before doing that, it is good to know basic facts about what these jobs entail.
What Are Legal Assistants Supposed to Do?
People who are working in this profession are mainly expected to work with attorneys in planning and implementing their arguments for court cases. They handle the research aspect of the job as well, foraging for past examples of cases and seeing how they can be implemented for current cases. They maintain records of the cases and present them whenever they are needed. They also take appointments with various people connected with the cases, interview them and record and report what they find out. They may also be responsible for accounting aspects of the attorney’s business. In some cases, they can handle special tasks such as serving notices and subpoenas, preparing divorce and separation settlements, preparing contracts and real estate agreements and so on.
However, legal assistants are only expected to help attorneys with the cases; they never have to make a direct appearance in court or to try the cases.
What Qualifications Are Needed?
You could become one by completing either an Associate’s Program or a Bachelor’s Program. These programs go on for 2 and 4 years respectively. Once you have these certificates in your hand, you can apply for paralegal professions. You could also specialize yourself in various aspects of legal assistant studies later on, such as real estate, marriage and divorce, immigration, drug laws, etc.
Where Are Legal Assistants Needed?
You will certainly want to know where the main prospects for legal assistant jobs lie. The best place to seek employment is in private law offices, where there is perennially a need for good assistants. You could also be employed by the government. However, these employments are given only to people with experience. There are paralegals needed for special purposes as well such as drafting agreements, making contracts, etc. for which you can work on a freelancing basis. There are also some paralegal jobs available on the Internet where people looking for legal advice or some other similar requirement post their needs.
What Salaries Can Be Expected?
Legal assistants are among the most highly-paid professionals today. Even a legal assistant who is just starting out will easily get an annual salary of between $40,000 and $50,000, which is certainly quite good. The salary rises quickly as the professional gains experience and begins working for institutions that have a good name. However, the scenario of getting legal assistant jobs is quite competitive and you would need to have the right kind of qualifications and training to get gainful employment in this field.