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Legal Administrative Assistants (NOC1242) may also be called:

  • legal secretary
  • real estate secretary
  • litigation secretary

Paralegals (NOC 4211) may also be called:

  • law clerk
  • legal researcher
  • litigation legal assistant
  • real estate law clerk

What Would I Do?

Legal administrative assistants perform secretarial and administrative duties in law offices or offices that work with legal documents (e.g. real estate companies, land title offices, the court system). You handle and format legal correspondence, and review and proofread outgoing documents.

Your duties can include:

  • prepare and enter correspondence and legal documents, such as deeds, wills, affidavits and briefs
  • review and proofread documents and correspondence to ensure compliance with legal procedures
  • schedule appointments, meetings and conferences for employer
  • use knowledge of legal records and procedures to set up and maintain filing systems (including confidential materials and documents)
  • open and distribute regular and electronic incoming mail and other material and co-ordinate the flow of information internally and with other departments or organizations

Paralegals: prepare legal documents and conduct research to assist lawyers or other professionals.

Your duties can include:

  • assist lawyers by
    • interviewing clients, witnesses and other related parties
    • assembling documentary evidence
    • preparing trial briefs
    • arranging for trials
  • prepare wills, real estate transactions and other legal documents, court reports and affidavits
  • research records, court files and other legal documents
  • draft legal correspondence and perform general office and clerical duties

More information:

Am I Suited For This Job?

Legal administrative assistants should have:

  • good understanding of legal terminology, legal processes and common legal documents
  • strong communication skills
  • good research skills

You should be:

  • detail oriented
  • good with people

Paralegals should have:

  • strong research skills
  • strong written and verbal communication skills

You should be:

  • analytical and logical
  • persuasive
  • good with people

Legal administrative assistants and paralegals carry out most of their duties in offices, courthouses or law libraries. Sometimes you must travel outside the workplace to do research or perform other duties. Most work full time throughout the year during normal office hours. The work can be demanding and stressful.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Legal Administrative Assistants, WorkBC Career Profile for ParalegalsCareer Cruising database (Profiles for ‘Legal Secretary’ and ‘Paralegal’).

What Are The Wages And Benefits?

In British Columbia, the annual median salary for Legal administrative assistants is $50,054.  In BC’s regions, you can expect to make:

BC regional salaries; low median, high

Table from Job Bank Wage Report [Search 1242]

In British Columbia, the annual median salary for Paralegals is $54,142. In BC’s regions, you can expect to make:

regional hourly salaries; low, median, high

Table from Job Bank Wage Report [Search 4211]

If you work full-time you usually receive benefits in addition to your salary, such as dental coverage, paid sick leave and vacation time, and pension plan contributions.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profiles & Career Cruising database

What Is The Job Outlook In BC?

Legal administrative assistants:

Most new job opportunities in the next few years will be to replace retiring workers. While the current supply of new graduates is sufficient, some employers are finding it difficult to find candidates with hands-on practical experience and knowledge in the various areas of legal practice. Legal administrative assistants with training and experience in litigation and conveyance procedures, as well as those with strong computer and communication skills, will be highly sought after.

Employment Outlook

forecasted average employment growth rate 2017 to 2027; job openings 2017 to 2027; composition of job openings

Chart from WorkBC

Paralegals

Industry sources report that there is currently demand for paralegals in the province. Organizations that hire paralegals and related occupations, such as those offering real estate, financial, insurance and legal services, are expected to expand as the need for their services increases due to provincial population growth. Law firms and other organizations may reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals.

Employment Outlook

employment outlook for 2017 to 2027; job openings for 2017 to 2027; composition of job openings

Chart from WorkBC
Source: WorkBC Career Profiles (NOC 4211 & 1242)

How Do I Become a Legal Administrative Assistant / Paralegal?

Legal administrative assistants do not require certification in BC. However, you are usually required to complete secondary school, as well as a one- or two-year college program or other program for administrative assistants or legal administrative assistants.

Paralegals do not require certification in BC. However, you do require a college diploma in a paralegal program (usually lasting two years). Other requirements for paralegals may include: a bachelor’s degree and/or in-house training from a law firm or other legal establishment office experience

How Do I Find A Job?

Where would I work?

Legal Administrative Assistants may work in:

  • law offices, legal departments of large firms, real estate companies, land title offices, municipal, provincial and federal courts and government agencies

Paralegals may work in:

  • law firms, record search companies and in legal departments throughout the public and private sectors
  • paralegal firms, government agencies, and legal clinics

Finding Advertised Jobs

Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.

Online Job Postings

  • Jobs in Law
    [search for ‘paralegal’ or ‘assistant’]

Finding “Hidden Jobs”

Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.

Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers

You can use company directories to produce lists of law firms and employers in the legal field. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • BC Legal Directory
    Lists all lawyers in BC, law firms, law courts and law related organizations
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “legal” OR “law” and click SEARCH.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies

Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.

Networking and the Hidden Job Market:

When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.

Volunteer opportunities

For additional tips see:

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

For more information see:

Where Can This Job Lead?

Legal administrative assistants: often start their careers as receptionists in law firms or the legal departments of larger organizations, or as junior legal secretaries. As you gain experience, you may advance to senior legal administrative assistant positions; and with further education, you may progress to other occupations such as paralegal.

Paralegals: recent graduates from the paralegal program usually find positions as junior paralegals. With experience you may be promoted to managerial and other law-related positions within a firm.

Where Can I Find More Information?