Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Paralegal and Legal Assistant Job Description

Paralegals and legal assistants work closely with lawyers to provide clerical, research, and organizational support. They offer essential assistance that will help legal cases proceed more efficiently. Paralegals may draft leases, contracts, and other legal documents so they’re ready for lawyers when needed. 

What is a Paralegal or Legal Assistant?

If you have an interest in the legal industry but you’re not ready to commit to the lengthy education required to become a lawyer, you may find a satisfying career available to you as a paralegal or legal assistant. This position will let you work closely with lawyers, yet requires far less education, making it an accessible short-term prospect. If you have outstanding attention to detail and strong research skills, you could make an excellent paralegal or legal assistant. 

The terms paralegal and legal assistant are typically used interchangeably, though there are some specialties in this area, such as a corporate paralegals, who focuses on serving lawyers who work with business clients. 

Lawyers have a heavy workload with a broad range of responsibilities that they have to take care of. Paralegals and legal assistants are the critical right hand for these professionals. When additional information is needed, a legal assistant may prepare in-depth research reports, schedule interviews, and take affidavits. They will assemble filings so they’re ready to go to court, maintain files and records before, during, and after cases go court, and communicate with clients as needed. 

Job Responsibilities:

  • Scheduling meetings, depositions, and interviews 
  • Performing research 
  • Investigating facts regarding cases 
  • Maintaining client files 
  • Collecting and filing evidence and information appropriately 
  • Preparing written reports 
  • Drafting contracts and other legal documents 
  • Taking notes during trial 
  • Reviewing transcripts from trial 
  • Filing legal documents such as appeals with the opposing council or court 
  • Preparing client bills 
  • Taking and relaying messages from clients 

What is the Career Outlook for Paralegals and Legal Assistants?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants shows employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.  

About 38,000 openings for paralegals and legal assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.  

Law firms will continue to be the largest employer of paralegals, as these workers are needed to help prepare and organize legal documents. However, many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments to cut costs. This should lead to an increase in the demand for legal workers in a variety of settings.

Where Do Paralegals and Legal Assistants Work?

The BLS shares that the largest employers of paralegals and legal assistants are as follows: legal services, local government, excluding education and hospitals, federal government, finance and insurance, and state government, excluding education and hospitals.  

Paralegals and legal assistants often work in teams with attorneys, fellow paralegals, and other legal support staff. Paralegals do most of their work in offices. Occasionally, they may travel to gather information, collect and review documents, accompany attorneys to depositions or trials, and do other tasks. Some of the work can be fast-paced, and paralegals must be able to work on multiple projects under tight deadlines.

What Are the Training Requirements for Paralegals and Legal Assistants?

Paralegals and legal assistants are typically required to have a minimum of an associate’s degree in a related field. The Paralegal Studies Associate Degree from Bryant & Stratton College is a well-rounded choice. This 60-credit-hour program includes courses such as criminal law & procedures, torts & remedies, contract law, civil litigation. This will give you the well-rounded education you need to pursue a successful career in this area. 

You can further enhance your employability by pursuing professional certification for paralegals. This is available on both local and national levels. 

Prospective paralegals and legal assistants will have the best chance of success in this occupation with strong communication, research, computer, and organizational skills. Improving any skills in these areas will help you fill out your resume well to make it more attractive to prospective employers. 

What Can I Do With an AAS Paralegal Studies Degree?

With an AAS Paralegal Studies degree, you’ll be equipped for a number of legal careers. These can go by many names and may fall in a variety of legal areas. As you’re conducting your job search, you should keep an eye out for job titles such as: 

  • Law clerk 
  • Legal analyst 
  • Paralegal specialist 
  • Law associate 
  • Title examiner 
  • Abstractor 
  • Legal support 
  • Legal secretary 
  • Brief writer 
  • Copyright agent 
  • Legal researcher 
  • Notary public 
  • Title searcher> 
  • Trademark agent 

Your AAS Paralegal Studies degree will prepare you for any of these positions. 

For more insights into the paralegal studies field, visit the paralegal section of our blog. This will give you a wealth of information on how you can get involved in the legal field. 

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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