With employment expectancy for legal assistants projected to expand by 17 percent by the year 2022, now is the time to enter the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that educated and formally trained paralegals are in prime position to land those achievable spots that carry an annual median salary of $46,000.
“The opportunities for a paralegal or legal assistant in Los Angeles are as good as I have seen them in nearly four decades of law practice here,” said David S. White, principal attorney at David S. White & Associates.
Atty. White says the economic ripple effects of the Great Recession, that ended in 2009, are now yielding sustainable fortune to those whose duties include helping lawyers conduct research, organize files and draft court-worthy documents.
“Drastic budget cuts in California state courts means that legal services must be priced competitively,” said Atty. White, a UC Davis School of Law alumnus. “Use of experienced, talented and well-trained paralegals or legal assistants is a way to deliver relief from some of the substantial expenses of rendering legal services without compromising on the quality of the result.”
What key qualities must a paralegal or legal assistant acquire?
“A successful paralegal or legal assistant must be proficient in the basics of 21st century law practice and the skilled use of office software and the internet, including subscription computer legal research.”
In what way will the role of paralegals and legal assistants improve in coming years?
“By 2020, it will be clear that paralegals and legal assistants, who have been well-trained and well-supervised, will be established as essential parts of any law firm that constantly seeks ways to render cost-effective legal services to its clients.”
What is your advice to those interested in becoming a paralegal or legal assistant?
“There are programs, including one at UCLA, that prepare a paralegal for passing certification examinations. Learn the nuts and bolts of what you will be doing. Hard-working, dedicated paralegals who strive to make themselves indispensable to the attorneys who train and supervise them will have rewarding and fascinating careers well into this still-new century.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.