Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents, or researching legal precedent. Conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.
Sample of reported job titles: Certified Paralegal, Corporate Law Assistant, Law Associate, Legal Analyst, Legal Assistant, Litigation Paralegal, Paralegal, Paralegal Assistant, Paralegal Specialist, Real Estate Paralegal
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Prepare affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system.
- Prepare legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, and real estate closing statements.
- Prepare for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits.
- Investigate facts and law of cases and search pertinent sources, such as public records and internet sources, to determine causes of action and to prepare cases.
- Meet with clients and other professionals to discuss details of case.
- File pleadings with court clerk.
- Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions, and legal articles, codes, and documents.
- Direct and coordinate law office activity, including delivery of subpoenas.
- Call upon witnesses to testify at hearing.
- Arbitrate disputes between parties and assist in the real estate closing process, such as by reviewing title searches.
- Keep and monitor legal volumes to ensure that law library is up-to-date.
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- Accounting software — Intuit QuickBooks ; Tax software
- Analytical or scientific software — a la mode WinTOTAL; LexisNexis CourtLink Strategic Profiles; Litigation support software; Uniscribe (see all 9 examples)
- Business intelligence and data analysis software — MicroStrategy
- Categorization or classification software — Bowne JFS Litigator’s Notebook
- Cloud-based data access and sharing software — Dropbox; Google Drive ; Microsoft SharePoint
- Customer relationship management CRM software — Software Technology PracticeMaster; Thomson West ProLaw
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software; Microsoft Access ; Relational database software; TrialWorks (see all 13 examples)
- Desktop publishing software — Digital contract software; Microsoft Publisher; ProForce Paralegal Pro-Pack; Sure Will Writer (see all 6 examples)
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat ; Document management system software; Microsoft Office SharePoint Server MOSS; Summation Blaze (see all 20 examples)
- Electronic mail software — IBM Notes ; Microsoft Outlook
- File versioning software — Zylab ZyImage
- Information retrieval or search software — American LegalNet USCourtForms; LawManager; LexisNexis; Westlaw (see all 18 examples)
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Library software — Computer access catalog software
- Office suite software — Corel WordPerfect; Microsoft Office
- Optical character reader OCR or scanning software — Optical character recognition OCR software
- Pattern design software — CaseSoft TimeMap
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Project management software — Microsoft Project
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Transaction server software — Tumbleweed SecureTransport
- Video creation and editing software — Thomson Reuters LiveNote Stream
- Word processing software — Google Docs ; Legal document software; Microsoft Word ; The Sackett Group MacPac for Legal (see all 5 examples)
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
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- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
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- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
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- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Maintain the order of legal documents.
- Prepare legal documents.
- Research relevant legal materials to aid decision making.
- Confer with court staff to clarify information.
- Meet with individuals involved in legal processes to provide information and clarify issues.
- Evaluate information related to legal matters in public or personal records.
- Coordinate legal schedules or activities.
- Represent the interests of clients in legal proceedings.
- Arbitrate disputes between parties to resolve legal conflicts.
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- Electronic Mail — 99% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 97% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 82% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 83% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Telephone — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 78% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Letters and Memos — 72% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 63% responded “Extremely important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 53% responded “Extremely important.”
- Time Pressure — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 54% responded “Some freedom.”
- Deal With External Customers — 45% responded “Extremely important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 51% responded “Some freedom.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 36% responded “Extremely important.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 49% responded “Very important.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 47% responded “Important results.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 35% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 27% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
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|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: CIE Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
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- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$25.44 hourly, $52,920 annual|
|Employment (2020)||345,600 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Faster than average (10% to 15%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||43,000|
|Top industries (2020)||
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Bar Association
- NALS…the association for legal professionals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Paralegals and legal assistants
- Paralegal Career
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