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How Legal Staffers Feel About Their Jobs: A Roundtable Discussion

published March 09, 2023

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( 30 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Legal Staffers are speaking out about the challenges they face in the legal industry. Many of these challenges include high expectations, long hours, low salaries, and lack of opportunities for advancement. Legal staff often play an integral role in the success of a law firm, yet they receive less recognition, pay, and resources when compared to their lawyer counterparts.

Legal staff are often in direct communication with clients and must quickly assess challenging situations and provide solutions. Despite all the hard work, long hours, and dedication, many legal staffers often feel undervalued and underappreciated.

Many law firms are beginning to recognize the importance of legal staff and are making efforts to provide better compensation, resources, and advancement opportunities. The ability to build relationships and create a positive work environment is critical for firms in order to retain and promote legal staff. One of the main challenges is that law firms can be slow to adapt to changing times and trends.

In addition, Law Crossings found that legal staff are more likely to suffer from job burnout due to nonstop overtime hours and the pressure to meet deadlines. Some have even expressed dissatisfaction over their inability to have an impact on the work they are doing.

The legal industry is quickly changing, and legal staff should not be forgotten. Law firms should focus on providing more comprehensive training and mentorships, increasing salaries and bonuses, and creating a better work-life balance in order to make the industry more appealing to legal staffers. They should also be given the resources and opportunities to participate in meaningful work and demonstrate their skills.

By recognizing and valuing the important contributions that legal staff make to a law firm, law firms can better attract and retain highly-skilled legal staff. Legal staffers are an integral part of the legal industry, and it's important to ensure that they are rewarded and appreciated for their hard work and dedication. Law firms that make a concerted effort to create a positive and supportive environment for legal staff will benefit from increased job satisfaction and increased productivity.

Legal Staffers' Voices Heard in Working World Survey

A new survey conducted by a respected market research firm revealed that lawyer and legal staffers feel strongly that their salaries and benefits are inadequate. The survey, sponsored by the National Association of Legal Staffers (NALS), asked 1500 legal professionals from across the country about their compensations, job satisfaction and overall working conditions. The survey results have been a great rallying cry for legal staff in the workplace and they have added important evidence to the existing body of knowledge on the working conditions of legal staff.

Insufficient Salaries a Major Source of Dissatisfaction

The survey revealed that the majority of legal staff felt their salaries were inadequate and failed to take into account the cost of living increases. The majority of those surveyed indicated that their benefits packages are not competitive, leaving them feeling undervalued and taken for granted. Additionally, over half of those surveyed felt that their workloads are excessive and their employers fail to appreciate the hard work they put in.

Trends in Workplace Represented in Survey

The survey also revealed that women are still significantly underrepresented in the legal profession, particularly at the higher levels of law firms, and that minorities in the legal profession continue to face significant challenges. The survey further revealed that legal staff are increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities for growth, job security and the limited access to training and development opportunities.

NALS Advocates for Legal Staff

The survey results have brought these issues to light, and the NALS has been advocating on behalf of legal staff for many years, pushing for change in the workplace and workplace policies. The NALS is working to create equity in the legal profession, in terms of salary and benefits, as well as job opportunities, job security and career paths for legal staff.

What is the difference between paralegals and legal assistants? (If any)
Jennifer V., BA candidate 2005

The difference can be huge or non-existent, based on the firm type. Paralegals can be certified by the Bar association, but they need not be, essentially a paralegal is an attorney's assistant, and performs many essential legal functions, but always under the supervision of an attorney. A legal assistant can do essentially the same work as an administrative aide, sometimes taking care of filing or reception or assisting a paralegal. If you are a paralegal, you might want to cast the net wide and apply for legal assistant jobs as well. Some businesses will use these terms interchangeably, especially for in house jobs.

Does anyone know of any contacts for jobs for word processors at the big firms?
Lisa M., Law Firm Receptionist

You can send out resumes to the main contact information in the Staff Recruiting section of law firms. These positions are in the "Other" and "Administrative Support" sections of the Legal Staff portion of the site.

What is the job market like out there right now for paralegals?
John K., BA English

The market has been good, even when things were not so good for lawyers. In fact, the downturn in hiring attorneys gave a rise to hiring legal staff, unfortunately the lower rate they need to be paid as compared to attorneys is part of the reason.

I'm currently a receptionist and was wondering what my chances are of getting a job as a legal secretary without proficiency in Excel or PowerPoint?
Christina L.,

Not knowing Excel or PowerPoint will not hurt your chances too much, so long as you can use a computer. It also depends on how automated the firm you want to work at is. Most legal staff members use law-specific software, and general basic word processing programs. No need to bring attention to the fact that you don't know these applications, just emphasize your skills on your resume, highlight the fact that you have worked in a law office and are familiar with the type of work that's done and just apply. If you have less experience you might want to take a Legal Assistant or Paralegal course.

Are there any temp jobs on this site?
David E., Document Reviewer

Yes, we list many part time and contract jobs. Also if you look for recruiter jobs, you can get in touch with some staffing agencies which place legal staff.

Is temping the best way to break into a job at one of the big firms?
Carol C., Paralegal

Not necessarily. Big firms recruit in various ways -- you can move from the bottom up, you can consult your college or schools' career placement office and you can go through on campus interviews. Many large firms will hire students with Bachelors Degrees and good grades as staff members, the same way they recruit attorneys.

published March 09, 2023

( 30 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.