What Do Legal Support Workers Do?
Legal support workers perform a variety of tasks, from routine office duties to high-level legal support for paralegals, attorneys or judges. You may need to conduct interviews with clients, communicate with other offices and court officials, file court papers and conduct legal research. Legal support workers are employed in all sectors of the legal profession, including private law firms, corporate legal departments, government offices and courts. While growth across the nation is expected to remain steady, there are as many as 1,110 job openings each year. While job openings vary in that less populated areas will have less openings, the demand for legal support workers is not limited by geographic, natural or climate conditions.
Legal Support Workers Skills and Abilities
Given the wide range of settings for legal support positions, the specialized knowledge you need (if any) may vary quite a bit. If you do have background in a specific area of law, this will be helpful in obtaining a position with a law firm that practices in that area. In general, a knowledge of the principles of legal research and writing is helpful, as is a familiarity with local court procedures and rules. Attention to detail is a key attribute in legal support, as even a minute formatting error or a missed deadline can have severe consequences. Also helpful is the ability to perform well under pressure, meet deadlines and organize information.
Legal Support Workers Duties
Depending on the setting, your duties may be more specialized in a large firm or government context, and more general in a smaller firm. In any case, your duties will encompass both general office tasks and specific legal support. In terms of providing office support, you may be required to answer phone calls, take care of ingoing and outgoing mail, make copies, send faxes and file documents. As part of your legal support duties, you may have to perform legal research, bring pleadings to court for filing, format pleadings, preparing discovery response packets, speaking with clients and drafting correspondence. In each state, the type of legal support work you may undertake can also depend on the rules and statutes governing the unauthorized practice of law. You may also be asked to perform some of the following tasks:
- Communicating with legal service providers such as process servers and transcriptionists
- Coordinating meetings, interviews and depositions
- Preparing files for review
- Creating and maintaining the office filing system
Legal Support Workers Tools and Technology
Legal support workers should be proficient in word processing and spreadsheet software. In addition, you may be asked to conduct legal research using databases such as LexisNexis and Westlaw. You should also be familiar with legal office management software that will help you keep track of court dates, depositions and deadlines for each case. Legal drafting software will help you prepare documents and pleadings using the correct format for each type.
Education and Training for Legal Support Workers
Most legal support workers have a bachelor’s degree, although it is also possible to obtain a position even with an associate’s degree or a high school diploma. Legal support and paralegal training courses can also be helpful in preparing you for this type of position.
Legal Support Workers Salary
Salaries for legal support workers can fall anywhere on a very wide range that starts with $30,700 and ends up in an upper range of $117,600. While the median salary across the nation is $53,700, the compensation for a specific position will depend not only on geographic area but also on the type of setting. Small and solo law practices typically offer salaries in the lower range, with government and court positions hovering around the median, and jobs in big law firms commanding salaries in the higher range.
Legal Support Workers by Geography
The highest salaries for legal support workers are available in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, with the most job openings existing in Virginia, California and Florida. Keep in mind that openings and salaries are broken down by state; however, more openings and higher salaries are also typically available in larger cities. Keep in mind this information when deciding on your job search strategy.