Legal Assistant Career Path
How To Become a Legal AssistantBefore pursuing a career as a legal assistant, you need to understand what the role entails. While a formal education is essential, legal assistants also possess skills that you can't learn in a classroom. Successful legal assistants excel at organization, communication, and teamwork.
Pursue a relevant degree.
Law firms typically expect legal assistants to hold an associate degree in paralegal studies, and some require a bachelor's degree. Coursework includes legal writing, legal research, and ethics. Even if your employer only requires an associate's degree, pursuing a bachelor's degree can help you stand out among potential hires. If you want to expand your knowledge further, consider completing a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). An MPS degree in paralegal studies can qualify you for jobs in government, health care, and corporate practice.
What type of degree should you pursue to become a Legal Assistant?
80% of people working as a Legal Assistant earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be a Legal Assistant?
- Written Communication
- Attention To Detail
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Document Management System
- MS Office
Apply for law office internships.
Many law offices offer internships to students pursuing their paralegal degrees. Law office interns typically assist with updating client files, proofreading documents, and corresponding with clients. An internship is an excellent way to gain practical experience and grow your professional network. Plus, an internship can often turn into a permanent position. Even if it doesn't, an internship looks good on your resume.
Earn a professional certification.
Some employers may require you to earn a certification to work as a legal assistant. Your state bar may offer a certification program, or you can earn a certification through the National Paralegal Association (NALA). To become a Certified Legal Assistant through NALA, you'll have to sit through a multiple-choice knowledge exam and a written essay skills exam. You must pass the knowledge portion before you can take the skills portion. NALA offers study guides and practice exams on its website.
Apply for legal assistant jobs.
After completing your degree, gaining experience as an intern, and completing any necessary certifications, it's time to apply for legal assistant jobs. Make sure your resume is up to date, and, if possible, have a friend stage a mock interview for practice. Don't limit yourself to applying to law firms. Real estate offices, government agencies, and financial institutions are often in need of legal assistants.
Continue to develop your professional skills.
The legal industry is ever-evolving, so it's important for legal assistants to keep up with best practices and procedures. Joining a professional industry will give you access to vital educational resources and help you expand your professional network, which can help you find new job opportunities.
Total Pay Trajectory
Legal Assistant Career Path
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