LEGAL ASSISTANTS/PARALEGALS help lawyers in their work by doing research and preparing documents. They do the preparatory work for lawyers involved in closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. They investigate the facts of cases to make sure they have all the relevant information. They conduct legal research in law libraries to identify certain laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other items relevant to assigned cases. They prepare written reports, and may help prepare legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, obtain affidavits, and assist lawyers during trials. They also keep files of all documents and correspondence important to cases.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $56,500 average per year ($27.25 per hour)
- A large occupation (315,200 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow rapidly (2.6% per year)
Employers prefer LEGAL ASSISTANTS/PARALEGALS who are graduates of 4-year paralegal programs, or college graduates who have completed paralegal certification programs. Some employers prefer to train paralegals on the job, promoting experienced legal secretaries. Many employers prefer those with training in a specialized area of the law. Four-year colleges and universities, law schools, community and junior colleges, business schools, and proprietary schools offer paralegal training. The National Association of Legal Assistants offers voluntary certification.