So you’re a legal eagle looking for a new job. You might not get to fight your day in court, but chances are you’ll get the opportunity to help attorneys excel in theirs.
There is no doubt that legal assistants can get exciting, well-paid jobs, but the challenge is to make sure that your resume stands out among the other applicants. We know it can be tough, which is why we have developed a full resume sample to help you get the job you want.
Resume objective for a legal assistant
The job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to grow by about 10% from 2019 to 2029 – much faster than the job outlook for lawyers which is only 4%!
However, the BLS combines paralegals and legal assistants in the same category, and they are no longer considered to be one and the same.
In 2020, the American Bar Association (ABA) removed the words legal assistant from the definition of a paralegal. Their reasoning was to emphasize the more substantive work paralegals perform.
That said, the BLS includes paralegals and legal assistants with anything from a certificate in paralegal studies to a bachelor’s degree.
Furthermore, when we researched available jobs for the profession, we found that the two terms were commonly used interchangeably, and many firms want highly qualified legal assistants with bachelor’s degrees who have four or five years of experience involving paralegal work.
When you write your resume, whether you are responding to a position as a paralegal or a legal assistant, you need to identify what services you are qualified to offer to attorneys. You also need to show how you will bring value to the position.
Highly skilled legal assistant with five years of experience in corporate fields. Strong administrative skills with a thorough understanding and knowledge of legal court documents. Able to provide service to at least three attorneys.
Resume skills for a legal assistant
Even though the ABA has redefined legal assistants and paralegal, pointing out that they do not do the same job, there are commonalities in terms of skills, particularly communication, technical, research, confidentiality, writing, and organization.
It is vital for them to be able to communicate effectively with lawyers, clients, customers, and anybody else who comes through the door.
According to the Eda Rosa LLC paralegal service and legal professional consulting company, paralegals would be people who deal with clients regarding litigation, as well as strategizing, legal research, and so on.
Legal assistants deal with simple tasks like setting up and initiating meetings with clients. She maintains that legal assistants are more likely to be assistants to paralegals than the attorney.
Their technical skills are similar. Both must be organized, but in terms of administration, a legal assistant will have more structured skills. Confidentiality would be equal for both roles.
Paralegals will usually be drafting legal documents, although legal assistants will also be writing.
You need to determine what skills are required for the job and ensure that you can match your skills with the job description.
These might require the ability to type at high-speed, how to negotiate in certain adversarial settings, time management, or interpersonal skills.
Communication | Interpersonal | Organizational | Research | Computer and writing | Time management | Court documents | Attention-to-detail
Legal assistant work experience
According to the BLS, paralegals and legal assistants held about 337,800 jobs in 2019, 76% of which were in legal services.
Others worked in federal, state, and local government as well as financial and insurance settings.
While all tasks relate to legal support, job descriptions are varied. The main areas of operation can be divided into corporate and litigation.
When you list your work experience, it should be relevant to the job you are applying for.
Provide the name of the company you worked for as well as your job title and the years you were employed. Write a short description of your job duties.
Your application will get greater attention if you include achievements and accomplishments, and highlight relevant work responsibilities you excelled in. If you won an award or received a commendation, say so.
If the company is using an applicant tracking system (ATS), keywords will also help to make you stand out.
These might be skills they are looking for or the personal attributes they desire. If there are systems, computer programs, or specific laws they mention, use them when you describe your experience. Mention anything that will show you have the experience and skills they are looking for.
Sample Work Experience
Fox Rothschild LLP, MN
Legal Assistant, 2018 – 2019
Provided high-level comprehensive admin support with real estate financial transactions for a real estate group. Working closely with attorneys, support, staff, and clients.
- Performed basic legal and factual research.
- Assisted with identifying relevant judicial decisions, statutes, legal articles, codes, and other pertinent information.
- Used Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, and conventional bank loan programs to perform real estate finance transactions.
- Drafted and revised loan documents, collected and filed due diligence, and prepared submission packages for HUD transactions.
- Organized and tracked case data and filings.
- Mentored two new legal assistants who joined the firm in 2019.
Legal Assistant, 2019 – 2020
Developed, implemented, and maintained an effective and efficient business process and systems for the legal department of Amcor. Duties included legal and administrative matters that required software skills.
- Administered legal matter management activities and legal financials.
- Administered legal agreement electronic workflow and database that included communication with internal clients and external customers.
- Assisted with the legal review of confidential disclosure agreements.
- Responsible for assisting in the development and maintenance of monthly dashboards and other legal-performance metrics.
Legal assistant, 2016 – 2017
Assisted the managing partner on the employer side of labor and employment practices. Assisted other attorneys in the practice when required.
- Answered phones, collected mail, used templates to start pleadings and filing.
- Tracked attorney hours and was trained to use various billing portals for insurance companies.
- Interacted with clients on a daily basis.
- Prepared and proofed legal documents and performed electronic court filings.
- Performed legal research.
Legal assistant education
We scanned hundreds of job postings to see what education is generally required to be hired as a legal assistant. We concluded that most jobs call for either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Some employers accept candidates with an entry-level certificate in paralegal studies or experience as a legal secretary.
ZipRecruiter states that in their experience employers want graduates, however, some law firms do hire legal assistants with no form of legal education and provide in-house training instead.
Indeed maintains that most legal assistants employed via their platform have at least a two-year associate’s degree.
Zippia states they have ascertained that close to 40% have bachelor’s degrees and 7.3% have master’s degrees.
The problem though, as the BLS states, is that relatively few colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies.
This means that a large percentage of paralegals and legal assistants have bachelor’s degrees in other subjects. But some do go on to earn certificates in paralegal studies from an education program approved by the ABA.
Various programs offer training courses in subjects like legal research and writing, the legal applications of computers, and law topics. See Courses, below.
Bachelor of Science in Legal Support and Services – Paralegal Concentration, 2017-2020
Association of Arts in Paralegal Studies, 2019-2020
University of California
Post-degree Paralegal Certificate, 2016-2017
While there are degrees and certificate programs that offer focused paralegal studies, many graduates seeking jobs as legal assistants have more general degrees. This, as we mentioned above, is because only a small number of schools offer bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies.
A good option is to enroll in a post-degree certificate program that offers intensive paralegal training.
Alternatively, there are online courses offered by colleges and universities that help legal assistants (and prospective legal assistants) to learn about various elements that will help them do their jobs.
According to Study.com, valuable career training via online courses introduces legal assistants to fundamental legal concepts and law firm practices.
These include legal research and writing courses, contracts, civil litigation, family law, or law office procedures courses.
Short courses are also useful for those who aren’t already proficient in software programs like MS Office, Adobe Acrobat Pro, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel, as well as other more specific programs that are relevant to finance, real estate, and so on.
- Introduction to the Legal System and Legal Assistantship
- Law Office Procedures
- Microsoft Office
While some states do require legal assistants to take certain tests before they can work in the legal field, it is not generally mandatory for them to be certified.
Nevertheless, you may find it easier to get a job if you are certified. Salaries may also be higher.
According to Learn.org, which provides free resources for students and career seekers globally, three US organizations offer certification for paralegals and legal assistants.
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers one certification for legal assistants, the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA), and another for paralegals, the Certified Paralegal (CP).
Those with ABA-approved certificates or degrees or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or a NALA-approved equivalent qualification can sit the exams.
Experience also counts, and if you have any bachelor’s degree plus a year’s experience as a legal assistant, a high school diploma and seven years of experience, or current paralegal students nearing graduation are also eligible.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) offers the Registered Paralegal (RP) certification, and the association for legal professions, NALS – originally the National Association of Legal Secretaries – offers certification as a Professional Paralegal (PP).
These associations also require qualifications and experience.
- Certified Legal Assistant (NALA)
- PP (NALS)
Complete legal assistant resume sample
We went through the many job posts we researched and chose the one below to use as part of our resume sample illustration. We are going to use it to show you how to write a resume tailored for a specific legal assistant’s position.
You will see that this position is for a legal assistant who will support three or more attorneys. The range of legal and administrative duties is wide, and experience handling securities filings is required.
The skills and competencies are comprehensively specified, and again, mention is made of corporate securities practice-specific procedures.
They prefer (rather than require) a legal assistant with a bachelor’s degree. Bearing in mind there is no mention of specialization, an associate’s degree plus a post-graduate certificate should be acceptable. It might even be more favorable.
Motivated and meticulously accurate legal assistant with six years of experience working in business law practices. Versatile skills. Willing to assist with additional responsibilities. Loyal team player.
Communication | Interpersonal | Attention-to-detail | Organizational | Time management | Deadlines | Business law | Computer
Legal Assistant, 2018 – 2020
Reported to general counsel and provided administrative support to five attorneys, carrying out general office duties, managing daily calendars, workflow, and travel.
- Maintained department databases and systems including corporate entity and intellectual property systems by processing, tracking, indexing, and electronically filing documents and other information, including securities.
- Researched topics provided.
- Wrote hundreds of legal reports for the paralegal team to complete.
- Handled highly confidential legal documents that had to be prioritized and organized.
Anderson Law Firm, NV
Legal Assistant, 2016 – 2017
Assisted one attorney/trustee and two paralegals. In addition to legal duties, prepared mailings and court copies of filed documents. Assisted with office management.
- Helped with daily court filings, including security filings.
- Provided assistance with discovery review and trustee case reviews.
- Assisted with document and pleading generation.
- Commended on my ability to learn new tasks and produce quality work on the first attempt.
Bremer, Whyte & Brown, LLP, NV
Legal Assistant, 2015 – 2016
Scheduled calls, managed attorneys’ calendars, typed dictations, and fielded calls from clients and the press. Prepared legal documents and filings.
- Communicated with clients and scheduled meetings.
- Handled administrative duties across the board.
- Interacted with court personnel and opposing counsel.
- Managed storage and data optimization in the company’s systems.
- Assisted with organizational tasks.
- CLA (NALA)
College of Southern Nevada
Post-Degree Certificate of Achievement, 2014
College of Southern Nevada
Paralegal Associate of Applied Science, 2012 – 2013
- Legal Research and Writing
- Corporate Securities Practice for Business
When you write your legal assistant resume, it’s important to ensure that it is 100% relevant to the position you are applying for. Don’t be tempted to send exactly the same resume to every potential employer.
You might think your details remain unchanged, but you should highlight your strengths and abilities that are job-specific.
- Traditionally, an objective tops a resume, but a lot of employers seem to ignore it. Leave it out if you wish, but consider that, because it is so short, it won’t take up space and might attract the hiring manager’s attention.
- Paralegal and legal assistants are often referred to in one breath. However, the ABA has refined paralegals and deleted references to legal assistants. This may not affect you because employers still advertise for both. Getting paralegal certification open to legal assistants might be helpful.
- Using keywords when you write your resume can make a difference if the company is using an ATS. Human recruiters also look out for keywords!
Tips from Experts
“A resume is all about highlighting who you are – showcasing your skills and where you went to college, your experience, and all that. But you need to set yourself apart getting it to the point where it is memorable. You must set yourself apart to get the interview so that you can tell them what a wonderful asset you are and how amazing you will be for their attorneys and their law firm.“ – Misty, paralegal coach
“A well-written resume is your first impression of you. A recruiter is going to be skimming through resumes really quickly and you want something that stands out, that is easy to read, that grabs their attention. Stick to a simple format and stick to the point.“ – Whitney Worthington, legal recruiter, Lucas Group
“As a freelance paralegal, I have worked with many types of law firms and personalities in my career. My greatest career accomplishments are of those when the client that we are representing is completely satisfied with our services.“ – Eda Rosa, founder of Eda Rosa LLC
Legal assistants support lawyers and undertake varied tasks from mundane filing and organizing people and paperwork to fascinating legal research. But every job is different, and your resume must be tailored in response to the job you want.
The sample resume we have developed was designed to help you craft a compelling resume that will get you that all-important interview. You can’t use it as is, but you can adapt the material to suit your needs.