While attending school, many law students try to earn extra money and get their feet in the door by working as legal runners. Many legal runners establish contacts that allow them to get promoted to positions like that of a paralegal or a legal secretary. They are called runners because their most frequent role involves running errands, such as delivering messages.
In addition to delivering messages, legal runners travel to purchase office supplies, take and get legal files from other law firms and deliver legal files to courthouses. They perform clerical tasks such as making copies of documents, distributing mail among other legal staff, cleaning, stocking the kitchen area, mailing letters and answering the phone. At some firms, they also perform word processing tasks and data entry. Legal runners perform various tasks that have nothing to do with law, such as making coffee.
The legal runner usually needs a vehicle and a driver’s license, since these workers must travel to perform various errands. They must be well organized to keep track of legal documents and to operate efficiently. Some legal firms expect that these legal runners have some law experience, while other firms offer to train entry-level employees.
While legal runners often run errands, the amount of travel they do depends on the office they work for, since some legal offices are closer to other law firms and courthouses than others. Legal runners and other legal assistants generally work 40 hours a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sometimes, these legal assistants are put under greater pressure to work longer hours when deadlines are near.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for legal assistants will grow by 28 percent between 2008 and 2018. These legal assistants are being used more as changes in legal operations require more workers with general knowledge. The need for legal services is also driven by population growth. In addition, the promotion of legal runners to higher positions creates new job opportunities. Legal firms employ the majority of legal runners.
The Louisville Bar Association in 2010 reported a starting salary of $24,500 a year for a legal runner. Legal aides and legal secretaries earn as much as $56,772, according to PayScale. Legal runners may receive benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance and a 401(k) plan.