What Is a Legal Office Assistant?
The terms paralegal and legal assistant are used interchangeably to describe very similar roles, so for the purpose of this blog post we'll refer only to the role of Legal Office Assistant. As a trained legal office assistant you will undertake a variety of duties, but this depends on the size of the law firm you work for.
In a smaller firm you might only be responsible for preparing and organizing documentation, as well as filing different reports for the lawyer you work for. Legal assistants in larger firms can be responsible for investigating the facts of and conducting research on laws relevant to a case, as well as preparing legal documents for a given case or client. You are never permitted to give clients legal advice of any kind, for any reason.
How to Become A Legal Office Assistant
You can follow a number of different paths to become a legal assistant, including where any previous legal work experience is taken into account. The basic education requirements are as follows:
1. Possess a high school diploma, or its equivalent, and then complete a legal assistant education program with a duration of at least 60 semester hours, and these hours must also include legal specialty course time. The legal assistant course you choose does not need to be approved by the American Bar Association, although that’s obviously beneficial.
2. You already hold either a bachelor's or associate degree in any field, but you already have two years experience working as a paralegal, or as the retained employee of a lawyer or law office.
3. If you have already successfully passed either the National Association of Legal Assistant’s Certified Legal Assistant Examination Exam (CLA), or the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE).
The path taken by most students is to complete a Legal Office Assistant course, before then either undertaking the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) exam and/or studying for the CLA or PACE exam. You will then be certified to work as a legal assistant for an attorney, in a law office, a corporation or a government agency, for example.
Please note that anyone currently under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, or an individual who has been disbarred or suspended from practicing law, cannot study to be a legal assistant in the state of Oklahoma.
Duration of Study
At Metro Tech OKC, we offer a Legal Office Assistant course, which is comprised of 1190 semester hours, and meets the Oklahoma Paralegal Association requirement for legal specialty semester hours.
Your Next Step
The demand for legal assistants in Oklahoma is forecast to increase by 20% in the near future, providing newly trained legal professionals with a large number and variety of employment opportunities.
Call one of the admission counselors at Metro Tech Oklahoma City today or enroll here to learn more about how you can become a certified legal office assistant.