As a former legal assistant to the prosecutor’s office in my county, I know first-hand how rewarding and challenging it is to have a career in law. If you’re considering a job in this field, perhaps my experience can help you decide.
Choose the right education
For many people considering a career as a paralegal or legal assistant, a certificate in paralegal studies or a legal assistant college program is the way to go. I was looking for a career in criminal law when I began work as a legal assistant. I attended school at the University of Phoenix and earned my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. With my education, I met the qualifications for the legal assistant position at the prosecutor’s office.
Job duties of a legal assistant
At the prosecutor’s office, I worked alongside county prosecutors, judges, other legal assistants, and inside the courtrooms with victims and defendants.
A few of my responsibilities included:
- Assisting attorneys by preparing files for court
- Collecting and organizing evidence
- Corresponding with law enforcement agencies
- Typing legal documents, including pleadings, motions, and discoveries
- Proofreading motions, objections, and briefs
If you are considering a career as a legal assistant, here are some tips to help you succeed:
With so many cases at different stages in the court process, the best advice I have is to stay organized. Keep an inbox and outbox for every piece of mail. I used my label-maker as if my life depended on it. There was not a place on my desk that did not have a label, and thus, no piece of paper on my desk that did not have a place.
Have good attendance
It was important in school, and it is important now; show up to work. Arriving to work each day, and showing up on time isn’t just about impressing the boss and saving your job. As a legal assistant, my attorney relied on me to be at work each day because no one knew my caseload as well as I did. I had a lot of responsibility as a legal assistant, but it felt good to be needed, too.
Not every case is interesting, but drifting off during a meeting or while reading a file could mean missing a crucial detail in a case. It was worth reminding myself each day that my job was that important. In a career field with so many court dates, hearings, and trials, it is important to stay alert, pay attention, and focus.
Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn more about a career as a legal assistant, including work environment, pay, and job outlook.
The American Bar Association also offers a directory of approved paralegal education program.