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Career and Education Opportunities for Legal Assistants in Columbia, Missouri

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for legal assistants in the Columbia, Missouri area. There are currently 4,810 jobs for legal assistants in Missouri and this is projected to grow 20% to 5,750 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.

Income for legal assistants is about $19 hourly or $41,360 per year on average in Missouri. Nationally, their income is about $22 per hour or $46,120 yearly. Incomes for legal assistants are better than in the overall category of Administration and Support in Missouri, and better than the overall Administration and Support category nationally. Jobs in this field include: probate paralegal, corporate legal assistant, and certified paralegal.

There are thirteen schools of higher education in the Columbia area, including one within twenty-five miles of Columbia where you can get a degree to start your career as a legal assistant. Legal assistants usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become a legal assistant if you already have a high school diploma.


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 Columbia 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.


William Woods University - Fulton, MO

William Woods University, One University Avenue, Fulton, MO 65251-1098. William Woods University is a small university located in Fulton, Missouri. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,287 students and an admission rate of 85%. William Woods University has an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated zero and five students respectively in 2008.


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.


Columbia, Missouri
Columbia, Missouri photo by Grey_Wanderer

Columbia is situated in Boone County, Missouri. It has a population of over 100,733, which has grown by 19.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Columbia, 85, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Columbia are valued at $171,800 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, three hundred thirty-five new homes were constructed in Columbia, down from six hundred fifty-three the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 15 minutes. More than 50.5% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 24.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Columbia is 6.8%, which is less than Missouri's average of 8.9%.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 40.9%, is less than both the national and state average. Sugar Grove Church, Fairview Church and Emmanuel Church are among the churches located in Columbia. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Columbia is home to the Columbia Country Club and the Columbia Plaza as well as Nickell Park and Stephens Park. Shopping centers in the area include Whitegate Shopping Center, North County Shopping Center and Biscayne Mall. Visitors to Columbia can choose from Churchill's, Columbia Super 8 Motel and Arrow Head Motel LLC for temporary stays in the area.