How to Hire a Legal Assistant

Does your growing business need a legal assistant? A legal assistant provides a broad range of legal services under the direct supervision of an experienced attorney. They provide detailed administrative support to the lawyer and handle internal communication with all relevant stakeholders and clients.

Here are some tips to help you find great legal assistant candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Legal assistants searching for jobs on Indeed*

361,749

Job seekers that clicked legal assistant jobs

72,821

Resumes for job seekers with legal assistant experience on Indeed

6,724

Legal assistant jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring legal assistant?

  • Common salary in US: $16.71 hourly
  • Typical salaries range from $7.25$32.35 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – April 2021

As of April 2021, legal assistant jobs in the U.S. are moderately competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 54 job seekers per legal assistant job.

Why hire a legal assistant?

The need for new staff can affect both your existing team and your bottom line. A great legal assistant hire can help your business:

  • Provide end-to-end administrative support to the lawyer by typing, filing and managing all legal documents and correspondence
  • Handle internal communication channels such as email, fax and phone calls with witnesses, clients and other parties
  • Prepare legal documentation and case briefs by doing proper research and investigation

Deciding between a full-time vs freelance legal assistant

Many legal assistants get their start working full time for law firms, attorneys and government organizations. For practices that are very busy, hiring a full-time legal assistant can make sense. As employees, legal assistants are on call to handle important paperwork, organize documents, contact clients and summarize reports on a lawyer’s behalf. Attorneys who are frequently overloaded with casework may rely on full-time legal assistants and consider them an invaluable asset.

Freelance legal assistants often perform services on an as-needed basis and can be a good option when casework is slow or sporadic. They may do their job remotely from home and can work for several attorneys and firms at once. If you don’t need a dedicated assistant or can do without in-person workers, hiring freelancers may be the ideal choice for you.

What are the types of legal assistants?

Legal assistants can choose to specialize in a number of areas according to their interests and skills. Some of the most common specializations include:

  • Family law: Legal assistants who specialize in family law cases draft correspondence and speak with clients, many of whom may be emotionally distraught due to divorce and custody disputes. They should have good listening skills, patience and a strong sense of empathy.
  • Corporate law: Corporate legal assistants research business regulations, look for violations and review contracts for organizations. They generally don’t work with the public and perform these services behind the scenes.
  • Estate planning: These legal assistants help the elderly and others with tasks such as writing wills and managing inheritance taxes, probate pleadings and property distribution.
  • Immigration: Immigration legal assistants help immigrants with visa applications, deportation petitions and asylum applications.
  • Litigation: Litigation legal assistants work with clients who are suing someone. They interview witnesses, help lawyers prepare for court and may attend trials alongside attorneys and clients.

Where to find legal assistants

To find the right legal assistant for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Contact staffing agencies. Staffing agencies find legal assistant candidates for lawyers and law firms. Staffing agency recruiters review candidates’ skills and conduct screening interviews on an employer’s behalf.
  • Attend a networking conference. The National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) holds several conferences and networking events throughout the year.
  • Participate in career fairs. Colleges regularly hold career fairs, which can allow students to meet with prospective employers and learn about fields they may be interested in. Contact local universities to apply for a spot at their next job fair.
  • Ask attorneys for references. If you work for a law firm, ask other attorneys if they know someone who’s looking for legal assistant work.
  • Post your job online. Try posting your legal assistant job on Indeed to find and attract quality legal assistant candidates.

What are the types of legal assistants?

Legal assistants can choose to specialize in a number of areas according to their interests and skills. Some of the most common specializations include:

  • Family law: Legal assistants who specialize in family law cases draft correspondence and speak with clients, many of whom may be emotionally distraught due to divorce and custody disputes. They should have good listening skills, patience and a strong sense of empathy.
  • Corporate law: Corporate legal assistants research business regulations, look for violations and review contracts for organizations. They generally don’t work with the public and perform these services behind the scenes.
  • Estate planning: These legal assistants help the elderly and others with tasks such as writing wills and managing inheritance taxes, probate pleadings and property distribution.
  • Immigration: Immigration legal assistants help immigrants with visa applications, deportation petitions and asylum applications.
  • Litigation: Litigation legal assistants work with clients who are suing someone. They interview witnesses, help lawyers prepare for court and may attend trials alongside attorneys and clients.

Writing a legal assistant job description

A thoughtful description can help you find qualified legal assistant candidates. A legal assistant job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your legal assistant job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on legal assistant jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Legal assistant
  • Paralegal
  • Legal
  • Legal secretary
  • Law firm
  • Paralegal legal assistant
  • Political science
  • Administrative assistant
  • Law
  • Assistant

Interviewing legal assistant candidates

To hire a competent legal assistant, it’s crucial to ask about the candidate’s legal knowledge and administrative experience in a law firm. Ask questions regarding: 

  • Experience attending legal proceedings and key takeaways
  • Different ways of handling legal communication
  • Which steps they took to handle legal administrative responsibilities efficiently

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of legal assistant interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a legal assistant

What's the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant?

The jobs are somewhat similar, but there are a few key differences. Paralegals are typically involved with litigation and court cases, whereas legal assistants perform more general tasks, such as data entry and administrative support. Legal assistants can’t bill clients for their work, but paralegals can.

What do legal assistants wear?

Most legal assistants wear business formal attire, which includes pants, a suit or skirts of appropriate length. Clothing should ideally be a neutral color, such as black, white, navy or beige.

Is being a legal assistant stressful?

Legal assistants can experience heavy workloads, tight deadlines, long hours and demanding clients. The job may be stressful, but many legal assistants find it rewarding, especially if they enjoy working in a fast-paced environment.

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