Table of Contents
- How to Become a Legislative Assistant?
- What Does a Legislative Assistant Do?
- Legislative Assistant Job Outlook
- Career and Salary Outlook
- Final Thoughts
Legislators play a crucial role in citizens’ daily lives by passing bills and laws that can profoundly shape our daily lives. As public servants, their principal duty is to represent the nation’s interests by creating policies and working on legislation that addresses the needs of constituents and society as a whole.
To carry out their jobs effectively and efficiently, these senators and congresspeople hire legislative assistants who support them in various areas of the process. So what does a legislative assistant do, and why are their support services so crucial for legislators? Keep reading to find out!
How to Become a Legislative Assistant?
If politics and public policy are subjects that fascinate you and you want to contribute toward a better society and improve the lives of the citizens, perhaps becoming a legislative assistant can serve as the perfect launchpad for pursuing a career in law and politics. The following are some essential prerequisites to becoming a legislative assistant:
While many candidates secure a position as a legislative assistant after obtaining a diploma in paralegal studies, some employers require an undergraduate degree as a minimum entry point. The preferred degree programs include political science, public policy and administration, communication studies, and related fields.
While an advanced understanding of the legislative process is not required, a master’s degree in law can be valuable. That will provide you with the fundamental skills to become a legislative assistant, such as drafting effective regulations.
An internship in a public office or volunteering for a political organization will also give aspiring legislative assistants valuable real-world legislative and policy experience and cultivate their communication skills, enhancing their chances of landing a job.
Skills, knowledge & abilities
To be successful as a legislative assistant, aspiring candidates should have a keen interest in public service and the legislative process while possessing a well-rounded skillset. The following are some essential skills and abilities needed to excel in the role.
Research and Writing
Legislative assistants will be entrusted with gathering information about current or proposed laws, researching policy concepts, determining constituent concerns, and preparing reports for legislators. That means they must have sound research and writing skills. They also need to be able to read and interpret complex laws and documents.
Interacting with various people is at the core of a legislative assistant’s day-to-day duties. These may include the constituents, other legislators, lobbyists, and other legislative staff. Accordingly, they must have excellent interpersonal skills and communicate effectively verbally, over the phone, and via email.
A crucial aspect of a legislative assistant’s job includes managing day-to-day office operations whereby they answer phones, manage calendars, shuffle paperwork, maintain computer and paper files, and prepare documents. Therefore, it is vital to be skilled in using computers and familiar with basic programs like MS Office.
Legislative assistants juggle multiple duties at once, making it crucial to multitask effectively while managing their time. They must prioritize their tasks and meet the expected deadlines.
What Does a Legislative Assistant Do?
Legislative assistants have various responsibilities. They closely work alongside legislators like senators and elected members of the House of Representatives and assist them with everyday tasks relating to creating legislation and other public policies.
Roles and responsibilities
While each legislative assistant’s duties may vary depending upon the legislator they work for, legislative assistants typically provide administration and communication support and perform thorough research. Their primary job is to assist the elected official in the legislative process and help them create and pass laws that benefit the community.
They might amend or draft legislation while working with legislative counsel and track a bill’s advancement. Another principle duty of a legislative aide is to research current laws and proposed legislation and study its background by attending committee hearings.
From maintaining office operations like taking calls and messages to managing schedules and making travel arrangements for the legislator, legislative assistants are typically required to perform various administrative support functions.
They may be responsible for creating and maintaining electronic and physical files to ensure smooth office operations. Coordinating and attending meetings and events with constituents, interest groups, and VIPs with or on behalf of the elected member is often part of a legislative assistant’s daily job.
A legislative assistant serves as a liaison between the elected member and the people. They must be aware of the issues that the people of the constituency may be facing and convey them to the member. Another vital aspect of a legislative assistant’s job is meeting and interacting with constituents and conducting research about their needs and concerns.
Accordingly, legislative assistants must answer constituent inquiries and present reports to keep the legislator informed on all relevant matters about their constituency. The research reports presented to the legislator may significantly influence their decision-making and compel them to draft laws or policies based upon the constituent’s feedback.
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A legislative assistant is also responsible for managing communications and public relations on behalf of the legislator. They may draft speeches, letters, and press releases, coordinate media contact, and represent the legislator at community events and meetings. As the first point of contact between the elected official and the people, they respond to constituent calls, emails, and letters on behalf of their boss.
Legislative Assistant Job Outlook
The increasing complexity of laws and the need for legislative research renders it crucial for lawmakers to seek the services of legislative assistants. As long as the legislature exists, legislative assistants will remain in demand. The following are some of the most common areas of employment for legislative assistants:
Working for the Senate and House of Representatives in the US
The Senate and the House of Representatives are the largest employers of legislative assistants. They monitor pending legislation, draft bills, speeches, and letters, and communicate with constituents and other stakeholders on behalf of the member.
Besides, the legislative assistant also provides policy or vote recommendations and may work on policy areas, including healthcare, education, environments, taxes, or labor.
Working for the European Parliament
The European Parliament discusses and enacts laws of the European Union (EU) while working with the European Council or the Council of Ministers. In addition, it reviews the budget and comprises 705 members elected by the citizens of Europe who debate issues pertaining to the EU.
European parliamentary assistants work with members of the European Parliament (MEP) and are in charge of handling their day-to-day work. They may be responsible for gathering background data on important political issues relating to their member’s work and legislative tasks like writing draft reports, drafting speeches, and answering public queries.
Career and Salary Outlook
The average legislative assistant salary in the United States is $51,827 per year. As they gain knowledge and experience, legislative assistants can advance their careers by pursuing a graduate degree and applying for more senior and high-paying positions at the federal level. Those might specialize in specific areas of legislation, including healthcare, education, environment, or tax policy.
Legislative assistants may even take on more advanced roles and be given more responsibilities by their legislators, like amending bills and drafting legislation. Some go on to become legislative directors or even legislators themselves.
Now you have the answer to the question, “what does a legislative assistant do?” In the United States, they provide essential support services to members of the House and senators and are an integral part of running the legislative process.
While their work can often be demanding and stressful, it is a rewarding and fulfilling position whereby they play a role in helping legislators bring a positive change in the lives of people.