There are several factors that play a role in deciding what your legal assistant salary will be. For example, the type of law firm or agency you work for, your location and your education level can all vastly affect how much money you will earn. In addition, there are things you can do to increase your chances of securing a job with a higher legal assistant salary. By passing certification exams or taking additional classes, you may be able to obtain promotions and jobs leading to a larger legal assistant salary.
How Much do Legal Assistants Make?
Because the legal assistant job description is similar to the responsibilities of a paralegal, the Bureau of Labor Statistics generates one set of data for both professions. The average annual legal assistant salary is $49,960. However, this number can vary greatly depending on your employer and your experience. For example, some legal assistants are making as much as $75,000 a year. Another important thing to consider when looking for a job is the regions where the average legal assistant salary is higher than the rest of the country. Right now, legal assistants in the District of Columbia, California, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois are making on average more than legal assistants in other parts of the country.
Legal Assistant Salary by Industry
Besides where you work, the other major factor that will affect how much your legal assistant salary is will be the industry you work in. The following is a list of legal assistant salaries ranked in order of employment density:
|Federal Executive Branch||$64,750|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||$59,390|
Once again, government data for paralegal salary statistics mirrors legal assistant information.
How to Improve Your Legal Assistant Income
There are several ways you can improve your chances of earning a higher legal assistant salary. The most important thing you can do is receive formal legal assistant training. There are several schools available that offer both certificate and degree programs in paralegal studies. These schools include a mix of coursework and training designed to make you an expert in the legal assistant field.
Another way to increase your legal assistant or paralegal salary is to earn a certification. There are several organizations that offer certification exams that, if passed, are a great way to show employers you are a skilled and qualified legal assistant.
Two of the organizations that offer legal assistant certification exams are:
- The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAP)
The certification exam from the NALA takes two days complete and you must meet certain requirements before applying for it. If you pass the exam, you will become a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA).
The AAP offers certification only to legal assistants who have at least five years of experience. In addition, you must renew AAP certification every two years and demonstrate you have continued your education. Either of these certifications may lead to promotions and a higher legal assistant salary.
Enrollment agents will be able to provide you more information further training and certification options.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.