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Is the Legal Secretary and Legal Assistant Taking the Place of Lawyers
Today's legal system offers a variety of career opportunities for anyone who wants involvement in the criminal justice field. It's not just for those who can afford expensive law schools, but for anyone intrigued by law and criminal justice. The dirty little secret about lawyers is that a paralegal does a lot of their research, and a legal secretary writes many of their legal documents. What do the lawyers themselves do? They hold a license, making it legal for them to give legal advice, present cases in court, and set legal fees.

About Paralegals

Many law firms and corporations entrust the leg work to a paralegal (also called a legal assistant) and use lawyers (whose hourly fees are much higher) only when they are required by law.

The legal assistant can do everything from investigating cases and researching earlier precedent cases to helping lawyers prepare for court hearings and closing arguments. A paralegal is to a lawyer what the nurse is to a doctor. They can't do everything, but then again, they require less schooling and make less money.
  • Paralegal Income: So what does a legal assistant make? The average income of a full time paralegal in the US in 2002 was $37,950. That's just the average. Incomes for legal assistants working for the federal government averaged a much higher income than those working for private companies and law firms.
  • Opportunity: But the opportunities don't have to stop with the higher incomes. A paralegal has countless opportunities to advance. Many larger corporations have a team of legal assistants and often have one or two delegating work to the others. Such a supervisory position would obviously pay more, but would often require more time on the job. Being a paralegal is also an ideal starting place for someone wanting to become a lawyer, but not yet able to pay for schooling. An ambitious entrepreneur can start his or her own freelancing business to do paralegal work for lawyers, who either need seasonal help or who aren't able to hire a full time assistant.
  • Paralegal Education: To become a legal assistant requires at least an associate's degree with paralegal courses, and often a bachelor's degree. Today's connected students have the wonderful opportunity to obtain an Online Paralegal Degree. This way, they can take the courses from the comfort of their homes, and work around busy work schedules. This opens doors for many people who wish to return to college for career changes or for career advancement.

About Legal Secretaries

Legal secretaries perform all of the office administration work that any secretary would, but their duties require knowledge or experience of specialized legal forms and documents. A legal secretary spends much less time researching than a paralegal might, and more time writing and filling out legal forms. The two careers do overlap to some degree, but suffice it to say that one is clerical while the other is a more immediate assistant to the lawyer.
  • Legal Secretary Income: Legal secretaries earn $37,000 on average, but the amount varies greatly in different locations, and in different settings. As with paralegals, a job with the Federal Government generally pays more than a corporation or a law firm. Pay levels rise for legal secretaries with experience and with expertise.
  • Opportunity: The Bureau of Diplomatic Security hires special agents for Federal law enforcement. This one definitely requires a college degree, usually a bachelor's. It often requires a lot of travel, sometimes for long periods of time. The starting salaries start at $32,000 and can be as high as $46,000. It ranges according to education, how much experience you have, and where they assign you. From there, the income rises as you advance in your career.
  • Legal Secretary Education: In 2003, the average pay in this exciting career of criminal justice was over $51,000. State and Federal positions usually require bachelor's degree, and advancement is impossible without one. Local agencies do not often require degrees, but only give promotions to college graduates.
Intrigued by the industry? If youre interested in pursuing a Paralegal or Legal Secretary career search here for a Paralegal School or Legal Secretary Certification.
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