How does one become a legal assistant?

A two-year associate degree in paralegal studies or something similar is recommended for anyone who wishes to obtain. You don't have to complete a formal education beyond high school or a GED to become a legal assistant. However, if you want to be competitive in the labor market, most companies that hire legal assistants are looking for candidates with an associate degree of at least two years. This degree is ideal for paralegal studies.

Since paralegal academic courses are limited in some places, you can also pursue a related field, such as criminology or legal studies. Another option that some law offices consider is a legal assistant certificate. While you may not necessarily have an associate degree, a legal assistant certificate indicates that education and experience lead to a legal assistant or legal assistant occupation. Under this rule, lawyers are required to directly supervise legal assistants, provide them with guidance on confidentiality and ethical protocols, and accept responsibility for their professional conduct.

This table shows a list of occupations with functions similar to those of paralegals and legal assistants. Paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and should be able to develop good relationships. As long as the educational institution is accredited, both types of degrees will prepare paralegals to become NJCP along with work experience. Depending on where you apply, a firm may gain experience in the legal field instead of earning an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree.

If you work as a legal assistant in a retail store or in an executive corporation, you are likely to enjoy normal working hours between 9 in the morning. At these firms, legal assistants and paralegals can perform a “hybrid” role, performing not only the traditional functions of legal assistant, but also some of the tasks that were previously assigned to legal secretaries or other legal support workers. Those who meet educational or work experience requirements are eligible to take one of the four exams currently offered by national associations of professional paralegals. These certificates show that the candidate has expanded his education and has achieved some mastery of paralegal issues.

The SJPA works to increase opportunities for paralegals by increasing the level of competence and professionalism of legal assistants. Due to the changes in functions, the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) states that legal assistants (PDF, 2.8 MB) “divide their time equally between the tasks of legal assistants, including investigating and preparing for discovery, and legal secretary tasks, which include filing, filing and assisting their lawyer in the practice of law. A legal assistant plays an intermediate role between that of legal secretary and that of legal assistant, and can generally assume neighboring responsibilities if necessary. Paralegals use computer technology and software to manage and organize the growing amount of documents and data collected during a case.

Learn more about paralegals and legal assistants by visiting additional resources, such as O*NET, a source on the key characteristics of workers and occupations. If you want to be part of the dynamic legal assistant profession, you'll first need to learn how to become a legal assistant in New Jersey, including obtaining the education and credentials that today's lawyers demand. Because of their lower billing rates to clients, legal assistants are less expensive than lawyers when performing a variety of tasks that were previously assigned to beginning lawyers. .

Molly Keeny
Molly Keeny

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