A legal assistant increases the efficiency of a law firm by providing office services and other support measures to lawyers. While the work involves a lot of secretarial work, such as answering the phone, scheduling appointments, and filling out paperwork, there are additional tasks, including attending court hearings and researching information for a specific case. National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) If you`re considering hiring an independent legal assistant, there are two general paths: The average salary for legal assistants varies – as for lawyers – depending on factors such as field of activity, experience and location. For example, paralegals who work in metropolitan areas (where the cost of living is higher) and some states typically receive higher salaries. Legal assistants assist with administrative and customer service tasks, including: In a secretarial role, you would take care of office tasks, such as answering the phone, filling out paperwork, and scheduling appointments. Legal training can be helpful in transcribing a lawyer`s notes or typing documents. In other workplaces, however, paralegals perform similar tasks to paralegals. The American Bar Association (ABA) defines a paralegal as a person “qualified by education, training, or work experience, employed or owned by a lawyer, law firm, corporation, government agency, or other entity, and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which an attorney is responsible.” The term “legal assistant” was removed from the definition in 1997 to better reflect the type of work performed by paralegals. Part of the value of a legal assistant is that their exact role and responsibilities can vary depending on the specific needs of a law firm. However, the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) classifies legal assistants as individuals whose work includes certain administrative and secretarial tasks to assist a lawyer, with some tasks overlapping those of a paralegal. These paralegal duties include legal research if the person has sufficient training and experience. Your training as a paralegal can also help prepare you for other careers.
For example, you may want to consider working as a legal secretary. Your legal education can be beneficial in this position. While paralegals certainly have a lot to offer law firms, they fulfill a different role in a law firm. Paralegals focus on substantive legal work on behalf of supervising lawyers. Conversely, although legal assistants also work on behalf of lawyers, they focus more on administrative support tasks. This distinction is more important than it seems at first glance. Law firms that don`t recognize the unique roles of paralegals may miss out on the value paralegals can bring to a law firm. Paralegal and paralegal positions allow you to work in the legal field without going to law school. You can enjoy a career as a legal assistant if you want to perform administrative work in a legal environment. If you prefer to play a bigger role in case preparation, a career as a paralegal may be right for you. Paralegals generally do not require formal training beyond a high school diploma or GED.
However, many are pursuing additional legal studies (e.g. a legal assistant certificate) or gaining legal training in the workplace. You do not need to be a lawyer to work in the legal profession. Two of the most common jobs in this industry are paralegals or paralegals. In this article, we discuss what a paralegal and a legal assistant are, as well as the main similarities and differences. We explored the answer to the question “What is a legal assistant?” earlier in this blog post. While the terms “legal assistant” and “paralegal” are often used interchangeably, the roles of today`s paralegals and paralegals are different. In fact, it wasn`t until 2020 that the American Bar Association (ABA) revised its definition of a paralegal to remove the term “legal assistant.” Part of this process may involve finding a legal assistant with certain skills and characteristics. These skills and traits may be slightly different from what you`re looking for when hiring another lawyer. When hiring a legal assistant, consider the following key qualities: While you can often answer a client`s questions, you are not allowed to provide legal advice. Legal assistants work more administratively when assisting lawyers. You can track appointments, prepare documents, and help with financial or operational tasks.
Because of their administrative duties, their job often resembles that of a legal secretary. They can also answer basic questions about your company`s services. However, for incoming requests, take the messages and forward them to other members of the legal team. We often think that lawyers are the most common professionals in the legal field. However, lawyers work with a team of specialized professionals, including paralegals and paralegals, who assist in a variety of capacities. Collect and organize legal evidence and documents that the lawyer can review As a legal administration specialist, most of your client contacts are transactional in nature. For example, you can schedule appointments or take notes about a new client`s needs. While many work in private practice, it is also common for paralegals and paralegals to work in real estate, in-house legal services, health care, and not-for-profit organizations. However, paralegals cannot replace lawyers.
Paralegals are not able to legally represent their clients, offer legal advice, or sign documents that require a lawyer`s signature. The average salary for legal assistants is $44,730, which translates to about $21.51 per hour. As you might expect, more experience warrants higher salaries. The highest paid legal secretaries can earn up to $76,500. Now that we understand “what a legal assistant is,” we understand that most lawyers and law firms can benefit from the assistance of a legal assistant. But hiring full-time legal counsel isn`t always the best solution, especially for small businesses. In these cases, turning to an independent or virtual legal assistant is an effective solution that allows companies to delegate routine and time-consuming support tasks to a legal assistant when needed. For paralegals and legal assistants, salaries depend on geographic location, experience and education. Metropolitan areas tend to pay more, but their cost of living can be higher. Here are some of the highest-paid cities for paralegals: The average annual salary of a legal assistant is $42,573 per year, while paralegals earn $49,177 per year.
Paralegals who hold a paralegal certificate typically earn 15% more than the average base salary. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link for each position. Gaining experience as a paralegal can also help you decide if you want to study law and become a lawyer. To learn more about how law firms can engage independent legal professionals – such as independent legal assistants – to become more efficient and cost-effective, watch our webinar recording on Embracing the Freelance Legal Professional. For both roles, education can be the key to a good start. You can start exploring accredited schools today to find the paralegal or paralegal training program for you. Going solo is an important step in your legal career. Move forward with confidence with our guide, which includes ideas and advice from legal experts.
One of the main differences between paralegals is the type of training required to qualify for their position. Most paralegals have a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor`s degree. Training requirements for paralegals and legal assistants have evolved in response to an increasingly competitive labour market.