COURTING S U C C E S S
by David Adams
Does the excitement of courtroom drama, as the legal team saves the life of the defendant in a last minute twist of the case, have particular appeal to you? Can you see yourself as a vital part of this legal team? Well, even though this is not what typically occurs in court cases, the legal assistant profession can be interesting and rewarding. As a legal assistant, or paralegal, you are employed by a lawyer, law office, corporation or government agency to perform specifically delegated legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
Legal assistants aid attorneys in the practice of law by taking on tasks that do not require a law degree. Some of this work includes legal research, document analysis, cite checking and the drafting of documents such as certificates, corporate transactions and pleadings. In addition, they are also called upon to administer trusts and estates, assist with pension plan administration and real estate transactions. Prospects for job growth in this area are promising. Forecasts for the greater Detroit area suggest that the number of jobs for legal assistants will increase by four percent per year for the next 10 years.
Salary.com (a Web site which tracks pay for numerous job classifications) suggests the average salary for legal assistants in the Detroit area is $44,821 or about $4,000 above the national average of $40,820. Starting salaries for many legal assistants are in the $30,000 range with a high of over $50,000. Managers of legal assistants make an average salary of $75,481.
Oakland Community College offers both an Associate Degree in Applied Science, with a Legal Assistant major, and a post baccalaureate certificate program for students who already have a bachelorís degree in another field. Both programs require specialty courses in Legal Research and Writing, Litigation, Substantive Law, Trial Preparation and Evidence, which can be completed in one year. To advance in the field many Legal Assistants acquire a bachelorís degree; others use this legal background as preparation for law school, while others seek certification from professional associations.
There are two types of certification available - the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) and the Registered Paralegal (RP) certificate. The Oakland Community College programs are accredited by The American Bar Association and The American Association for Paralegal Education.
For more information call 248-341-2226.