Have you ever wondered what a legal assistant does?
Although the title, legal assistant, is self-explanatory, still a lot of individuals confuse them with paralegals. But in reality, legal assistants and paralegals are not the same. Legal assistants play a crucial role in the day-to-day legal activities of lawyers and firms and make the legal work efficient for attorneys.
This guide is perfect for you if you want to know what a legal assistant is. How to become a legal assistant? After this blog, you will have a complete understanding of legal assistants and if you want to be one, this is the perfect start for you.
What is a Legal Assistant?
In simple words, legal assistants are legal professionals who help lawyers and attorneys with the administration’s work. Most of the legal assistants complete legal administrative and operational tasks on behalf of lawyers. But sometimes the roles and responsibilities of a legal assistant can vary depending on the firm they are working with.
According to the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), legal assistants are professionals whose work includes administrative and secretarial tasks. Furthermore, they also assist attorneys with some paralegal tasks, such as legal research, document preparation, etc. They are the backbone of lawyers’ and firms’ daily routines as they take care of time-consuming tasks and make legal practice efficient for them.
What does a Legal Assistant do?
As we have mentioned above, legal assistants usually assist lawyers and teams with administrative and other work. Their key responsibilities usually include:
Managing Client service and communications: Usually, legal assistants answer calls and reply to emails on behalf of attorneys and law firms. They bridge the gap between lawyers and clients. They make communication more responsive to an improved client-centric experience.
Calendar management: The law firm assistant has to manage the daily calendar of the firm and lawyers. They have to keep lawyers informed about their schedules, meetings, and important deadlines. This will ensure that no important dates or deadlines are missed.
Documents Organisations & Management: Legal office assistants are also responsible for managing and organizing the documents of the lawyers. They take care of all the files related to a particular case and ensure they are arranged in the right manner.
Legal Research: Apart from helping lawyers with administrative work, law office assistants also help lawyers with legal research. Legal assistants can draft the researched data for better assistance.
Writing & Proofreading: Legal writing is a major part of the lawyer’s job, but it can be time-consuming. A certified legal assistant can also help lawyers in drafting contacts, writing and proofreading important documents.
Client Billing: Law firm assistants’ responsibility also includes helping lawyers with the client’s billing process. Legal billing is tedious and time-consuming and lawyers can’t invest most of their time in individually billing their clients. They can take help with legal billing software to make it much easier and automate the legal billing process.
Types of Legal Assistants
There are a few different types of legal assistants in the law industry. We will take a look at some of them below:
Corporate Legal Assistants: These law firm assistants deal with corporate lawyers and help them with various legal works. Their job roles include helping attorneys in legal research, corporate governance, staying updated with compliance, and much more. They usually deal with a wide range of corporate legal matters.
Family Law Legal Assistant: These legal assistants deal with matters that are related to divorce, child custody, adoption, and other legal matters. They hold expertise in helping family law attorneys. Their roles are to prepare for hearings, create documents, connect and communicate with clients, and much more.
Immigration Legal Assistant: The immigration law office assistant holds expertise in laws and procedures that are related to immigration law. They are aware of all the laws regarding the entry and stay of non-citizens in a particular country. They assist lawyers in visa applications, citizenship procedures, and other such paperwork.
Litigation Legal Assistant: These legal assistants assist lawyers who represent clients in court. They are versed in the process of civil litigation and prepare for cases and court trials. They generate documents, conduct research, and help lawyers stay on track with court dates.
How To Become A Legal Assistant?
Becoming a legal assistant requires law education and practical experience in the same field. If you want to be a legal assistant, you should know how lawyers work. You will need a legal assistant degree or paralegal certificate. You can be a part-time legal assistant or full time according to your preference. To gain experience and expertise, you will have to take internships or entry-level positions in legal settings. Having strong communication skills, legal research, organizational skills, and writing skills are essential for a legal assistant.
Parting Thoughts on Legal Assistant
Being a legal assistant is a good career path if you are interested in a legal career, but you don’t want to be in court. You should have good communication skills, research skills and be able to manage administrative tasks. In this blog, we have covered all the important details that you need to know about becoming a legal assistant. You can be both a remote legal assistant and work from the office.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Become A Legal Assistant?
To become a legal assistant, you should have a legal assistant or paralegal degree. Apart from a legal degree to become a legal assistant, you will also need experience with lawyers and firms. You can take up an internship to gain experience and become a legal assistant.
How much does a legal assistant make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), legal assistants usually make around $44,229, to $52,920. This can vary depending on the firms and region you are working in.
What are some common challenges faced by Legal Assistants?
Some of the common challenges that legal assistants can face are high workload, communication challenges, navigating complex legal procedures, and face unpredictable long working hours.
What is the primary difference between a Legal Assistant and a paralegal?
Most of the time, the terms legal assistant and paralegal are used interchangeably by lots of individuals. But they are not the same and a lot of jurisdictions may distinguish them. Legal assistants usually take part in administrative work, but paralegals complete substantive legal work on behalf of attorneys.