Paralegal / Legal Assistant Salary
Women comprise the majority of Legal Assistants in the United States. Individuals in this line of work make around $45K per year on average. Overall cash earnings for Legal Assistants stretch from $27K on the lower end to $68K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $5K from bonuses and $6K from profit sharing. Geographic location and years of experience each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Unfortunately, some people in this line of work are without benefits — more than a third lack coverage. On the flip side, more than half have medical insurance and more than two-fifths receive dental plans. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.
Job Description for Paralegal / Legal Assistant
A paralegal (also known as a legal assistant) works in a law office for one or more attorneys to assist them in the execution of their practice. Many times a paralegal will be called upon to type written notes or transcribe recordings of meetings or telephone calls. A paralegal must also be organized and comfortable with research and document drafting; they also must have outstanding written and verbal communications skills.Read More...
In many operations, the attorneys may turn to their legal assistants to help with research and reporting. The paralegal is frequently be called on to draft legal documents as well. Additionally, the paralegal is often be tasked with maintaining the office, including making sure supplies are purchased as needed. Because a practice's attorney are frequently busy away from the office, the paralegal may be the first point of interaction for clients. They also usually handle a great deal of scheduling of meetings for the attorney, including appearances in court, depositions, and other obligations.
While many law offices consider individuals for this position who possess high school diplomas (or the equivalent), larger practices increasingly prefer individuals with some sort of secondary training in office or legal administration. Paralegals also need to be familiar with basic computer software, such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
Paralegal / 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.
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Popular Skills for Paralegal / Legal Assistant
Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Most notably, skills in Legal Research, Online Research, Litigation Case Management, and Document Management are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 7 percent and 12 percent. Skills that pay less than market rate include Microsoft Excel, Organizing, and Microsoft Office. Most people familiar with Document Preparation also know Filing Court Documents, Case Management, and Document Management. Most people skilled in Client Interaction are similarly competent in Case Management.
Pay by Experience Level for Paralegal / 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. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $35K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $44K. Legal Assistants claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $50K. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of around $55K.
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 Los Angeles (+29 percent), Seattle (+19 percent), Dallas (+14 percent), and Boston (+12 percent). Legal Assistants in Oklahoma City earn salaries far below the national average by 20 percent, proving that geography overwhelmingly affects the pay scale for those in this field. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Columbus (18 percent lower) and Richmond (13 percent lower).
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