Legal assistants assist lawyers by maintaining/organizing files, writing documents and performing research. They also investigate cases, gather formal statements and draft contracts. Legal assistants also review material and familiarize themselves with electronic databases. Additional duties are often determined by the size of the corporation or firm that they work for.
Skillset: Assistants should be familiar with computers in order to perform legal research and organize files. Since they spend a lot of time working with other people, legal assistants should be able to make others feel comfortable and maintain good relationships. Other helpful skills include researching, oratory and organizational skills.
Education: At the least, a legal assistant should have an associate's degree in paralegal studies. Also common is a bachelor's degree and certificate in paralegal studies. While enrolled in an undergraduate program, students learn about legal research and how they can use computers for legal purposes.
Career Path: Individuals without training in paralegal studies or proper experience can become legal assistants if they receive on-the-job training, but in most cases they are required to have a bachelor's degree. Usually, employers prefer candidates with experience working in an office setting or law firm. Also helpful, but not mandatory, is earning certification.