How to Become a Legal Assistant?

Are you thinking of becoming a Legal Assistant or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Legal Assistant, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Legal Assistant job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Legal Assistant

Before 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
  • Filing
  • Sensitive
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Schedules
  • Document Management System
  • MS Office
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Legal Assistant in the United States.

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.

Legal Assistant Career Path

Legal Assistant

2 - 4Years of Experience
$43K - $63K /yrMost Likely Range
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13% advanced to

Senior Legal Assistant

2 - 4Years of Experience
$65K - $100K /yrMost Likely Range
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8% advanced to

Legal Assistant IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
$63K - $95K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Legal Assistant Career Path

Legal Assistant I
Legal Assistant
Senior Legal Assistant
Legal Assistant Manager
Legal Assistant IV
Assistant Head Legal Assistant
Legal Assistant V
Associate Director of Legal
Director of Legal
Senior Director of Legal
Executive Legal Assistant
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Related Careers in the Legal Industry

Interested in other Legal careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Legal Assistant skills. Discover some of the most common Legal Assistant career transitions, along with skills overlap.

38% skills overlap
59% transitioned to Paralegal