Legal Assistant Salary
Women make up the vast majority of Legal Assistants in the United States. The average pay in this industry is approximately $15.36 per hour. Individual bonuses, profit sharing and commission for Legal Assistants — as high as $4K, $5K and $20K, respectively — each contribute to the degree of variation within overall compensation, ranging from $25K to $59K. The specific employer is the main element affecting pay for this group — tenure and geographic location are driving factors as well. Work is enjoyable for Legal Assistants, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. Although more than half have medical coverage and close to two-fifths have dental coverage, roughly two-fifths claim no health benefits at all. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.
Job Description for Legal Assistant
A legal assistant, also called a paralegal, works either with individual lawyers at a firm or with legal teams. He or she helps lawyers with their caseloads by performing research, searching through documents and evidence, facilitating interviews, preparing memos and providing any other assistance before and during trial proceedings. One of the key roles of a legal assistant is to help lawyers with preparing and prioritizing evidence. A legal assistant is typically tasked with looking through this potential evidence, marking passages and pages for further study by case attorneys. The legal assistant may also be tasked with providing reports and summaries of the evidence for circulation among the legal team.Read More...
Legal assistants also assist with other aspects of casework and trial preparation. They may schedule interviews, and help ensure that proper recording equipment is available and working. In some jurisdictions, depending on the case, a legal assistant may conduct these interviews, typically using questions prepared by the supervising attorney. Legal assistants also provide general administrative and organizational assistance, such as screening phone calls, scheduling meetings and taking notes on these proceedings.
There are some educational requirements that most law firms look for in hiring legal assistants. Community colleges and vocational schools offer coursework in the paralegal or legal assistant fields. In jurisdictions that require certification for legal assistants, passing this testing process is also a requirement. Most legal assistants work in a law office environment during regular business hours, but field work and some travel should be expected.
Legal Assistant Tasks
- Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions and legal articles, codes and documents.
- Prepare affidavits or other documents, maintain document file and file pleadings with court clerk.
- Prepare legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts and real estate closing statements.
- Investigate facts and law of cases to determine causes of action and to prepare cases.
- Assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts or preparing legal documents.
Common Career Paths for Legal Assistant
Legal Assistants who transition into an Attorney role may receive large pay increases as the latter position pays an average $81K per year. It is quite typical for Legal Assistants to transition into roles as Paralegals or Legal Secretaries, where reported median earnings are $5K and $5K higher per year.
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Popular Employer Salaries for Legal Assistant
Small Law Firm, Family Law Office, Manley, Deas, Kochalski LLC, Office of The Public Defenders, and Jackson Lewis Llp are among the top companies that take on many Legal Assistants. Other employers shelling out big bucks include Jackson Lewis Llp, Shutts & Bowen, Llp, and Codilis and Associates, where Legal Assistants typically earn around $63K, $52K, or $40K, respectively.
Others at the bottom of the scale for this job include Small Law Firm at $30K, and Family Law Office where $31K is the norm, but it is worth noting that some Legal Assistants there earn up to $50K.
Popular Skills for Legal Assistant
Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Most notably, skills in Filing Court Documents, Drafting Correspondence, Document Management, and Document Preparation are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that seem to negatively impact pay include Customer Service, Client Interaction, and Filing. The majority of those who know Document Preparation also know Client Interaction, Case Management, and Document Management.
Pay by Experience Level for Legal Assistant
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Legal Assistants with a rich background of experience are typically rewarded with larger paychecks. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $32K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $40K on average — a distinctly larger sum. For Legal Assistants, 10 to 20 years of experience on the job amounts to an average salary of $46K. Legal Assistants who surpass 20 years on the job report pay that isn't as high as one would expect; the median compensation for this crowd sits around $51K.
Pay Difference by Location
Home to some of the best pay for Legal Assistants, Washington offers exceptional salaries, 25 percent above the national average. Legal Assistants can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Francisco (+22 percent), New York (+20 percent), Seattle (+19 percent), and Chicago (+18 percent). Trailing the national average by 14 percent, Orlando is the market with the smallest paychecks.