Legal Assistant Salary
Women make up the vast majority of Legal Assistants in the United States. The average pay in this industry is approximately $15.39 per hour. In the world of Legal Assistants, overall income ranges from $25K near the bottom to $59K at the top; this can include more than $4K from bonuses and more than $5K from profit sharing in exceptional cases. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is the specific employer, followed by tenure and location. The majority of Legal Assistants claim high levels of job satisfaction. Some workers in this field — close to two-fifths — are not awarded benefits. Medical coverage is reported by the larger part and dental plans are enjoyed by two in five. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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
- Assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts or preparing legal documents.
- Direct and coordinate law office activity, including delivery of subpoenas.
- Call upon witnesses to testify at hearing.
- Investigate facts and law of cases to determine causes of action and to prepare cases.
- Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions and legal articles, codes and 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. Paralegals or Legal Secretaries are common next-step roles for Legal Assistants moving up in their careers; annual pay for Paralegals is $5K higher on average, and it's $6K higher for Legal Secretaries.
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Popular Employer Salaries for Legal Assistant
Leading companies who hire large numbers of Legal Assistants include Small Law Firm, Manley, Deas, Kochalski LLC, FosterQuan, LLP, Office of The Public Defenders, and Shutts & Bowen, Llp. Other leaders in compensation levels are Jackson Lewis Llp at $63K, Shutts & Bowen, Llp at $52K, and Codilis and Associates, where Legal Assistants annually earn $40K.
Other low-paying employers include Family Law Office at $27K and Small Law Firm at $30K, though some Legal Assistants there earn up to $40K.
Popular Skills for Legal Assistant
Legal Assistants report using a large range of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Filing Court Documents, Drafting Correspondence, Document Management, and Document Preparation are correlated to pay that is above average. At the other end of the pay range are skills like Customer Service, Client Interaction, and Filing. Most people experienced in 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.
For many Legal Assistants, more experience generally translates to higher pay. 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. The average pay reported by folks with 10 to 20 years of experience is around $45K. 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
For Legal Assistants, working in the bustling city of Washington has its advantages, including an above-average pay rate. Legal Assistants will also find cushy salaries in Seattle (+22 percent), San Francisco (+21 percent), New York (+20 percent), and Chicago (+16 percent). Orlando is the lowest-paying area, 16 percent south of the national average.
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