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Career and Education Opportunities for Legal Assistants in Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for legal assistants. There are currently 1,460 jobs for legal assistants in Iowa and this is projected to grow by 23% to 1,790 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for legal assistants are expected to grow by about 28.1%. Legal assistants generally assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents.

Legal assistants earn about $19 per hour or $40,120 yearly on average in Iowa and about $22 hourly or $46,120 per year on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Administration and Support, people working as legal assistants in Iowa earn less. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Administration and Support nationally. Legal assistants work in a variety of jobs, including: paralegal specialist, real estate closer, and judicial assistant.

There are fifteen schools of higher education in the Des Moines area, including two within twenty-five miles of Des Moines where you can get a degree to start your career as a legal assistant. Given that the most common education level for legal assistants is a Bachelor's degree, it will take about four years to learn to be a legal assistant if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Legal Assistant

Legal Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, legal assistants assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents. They also conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.

Legal assistants ready affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system. They also ready legal documents and real estate closing statements. Finally, legal assistants meet with clients and other professionals to consider specifics of case.

Every day, legal assistants are expected to be able to read and understand documents and reports. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they see details at a very fine level of focus.

It is important for legal assistants to gather and analyze research data, such as statutes and legal articles, codes, and documents. They are often called upon to get ready for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits. They also file pleadings with court clerk. They are sometimes expected to direct and schedule law office activity, including delivery of subpoenas. Somewhat less frequently, legal assistants are also expected to appraise and inventory real and personal property for estate planning.

They also have to be able to investigate facts and law of cases and search pertinent sources and call upon witnesses to testify at hearing. And finally, they sometimes have to ready affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system.

Like many other jobs, legal assistants must be thorough and dependable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Des Moines include:

  • Court Reporter. Use verbatim methods and equipment to capture, store, and transcribe pretrial and trial proceedings or other information. Includes stenocaptioners who operate computerized stenographic captioning equipment to provide captions of live or prerecorded broadcasts for hearing-impaired viewers.
  • Lawyer. Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, and manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.
  • Paralegal. Assist lawyers or judges by researching or preparing legal documents. May meet with clients or assist lawyers and judges in court.
  • Title Examiner. Search real estate records, examine titles, or summarize pertinent legal or insurance details for a variety of purposes. May compile lists of mortgages, contracts, and other instruments pertaining to titles by searching public and private records for law firms, real estate agencies, or title insurance companies.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Legal Assistant Training

Kaplan University-Des Moines Campus - Urbandale, IA

Kaplan University-Des Moines Campus, 4655 121st Street, Urbandale, IA 50323. Kaplan University-Des Moines Campus is a small university located in Urbandale, Iowa. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 864 students. Kaplan University-Des Moines Campus has an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated ten students in 2008.

Grand View University - Des Moines, IA

Grand View University, 1200 Grandview Ave, Des Moines, IA 50316. Grand View University is a small university located in Des Moines, Iowa. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,936 students and an admission rate of 95%. Grand View University has a bachelor's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated one student in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Legal Assistant: The CLA examination is divided into five sections.

For more information, see the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. website.

Certified Legal Investigator: The National Association of Legal Investigators, Inc.

For more information, see the National Association of Legal Investigators website.

Certified Legal Video Specialist: The use of video in the legal environment is growing fast.

For more information, see the National Court Reporters Association website.

Certified Broadcast Captioner: Prove you're on the cutting edge.

For more information, see the National Court Reporters Association website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa photo by BinaryBoyXP

Des Moines is located in Polk County, Iowa. It has a population of over 197,052, which has shrunk by 0.8% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Des Moines, 79, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Des Moines cost $175,000 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, one hundred sixty-five new homes were built in Des Moines, down from three hundred nine the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Des Moines are finance and insurance, health care, and educational services. For men, it is construction, finance and insurance, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 18 minutes. More than 21.8% of Des Moines residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.5%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Des Moines is 7.1%, which is greater than Iowa's average of 6.1%.

The percentage of Des Moines residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 48.2%, is less than both the national and state average. Epworth United Methodist Church, Union Park Baptist Church and Seventh Day Adventist Church are all churches located in Des Moines. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church.

Des Moines is home to the Activities Center and the Blank Park Zoo as well as M L King Park and Des Moines Botanical Garden. Shopping centers in the area include Merle Hay Mall, Des Moines Park Fair Mall and Southridge Mall. Visitors to Des Moines can choose from Palace Inn, Holiday Inn Express Des Moines and Casa Bella Motel for temporary stays in the area.