The legal assistant responsibilities comprise doing all the supportive administrative and clerical functions needed for the smooth functioning of all the legal work of the lawyers as well as that of the law firm. The legal assistant is a professional who is updated with all the legal laws, regulations, etc., and investigates in depth about the facts about the cases of its clients. He/she organizes and sorts all the vital legal information and helps the lawyer by updating it in the relevant databases in computer. Thus, he/she needs to handle a wide variety of tasks that may also include some drafting of legal correspondence as well as research work pertinent to the cases of the clients.
The legal assistant is accountable for performing some complex, responsible legal and secretarial work and needs to apply his/her specialized knowledge while processing and preparing the legal documents that include a lot of legal terminology. He/she helps in getting affidavits, organizing the legal information after reviewing it properly, preparing written reports and preparing the legal material necessary to aid the lawyers in their meetings, trials and hearings. He/she is involved in conducting research and collecting material that may be beneficial for the clients. The duties of this professional may vary depending on the size and type of the legal firm. To get a more clear picture, outlined below are a few general responsibilities that will be able to throw light on the role of a legal assistant in a legal firm or organization:
The legal assistant is responsible for screening and providing the required information whenever he/she receives any telephone calls or any kind of mails. He/she is involved in composing, preparing and processing both the general and confidential legal correspondence, including the faxes and emails. He/she conducts research and prepares relevant legal reports and assists in the preparation of any other complex legal documents. He/she researches to develop methodologies and resources that would help in efficient and timely work flow. He/she may make referral and ensure that there is proper follow up and resolution of issues if needed.
He/she provides all the administrative, paralegal and secretarial support relevant to the legal projects and assignments. He/she establishes, organizes, updates and assures proper maintenance of legal records, papers and ensures proper management of legal records in the computer and maintains the files as well. He/she assists in the preparation of legal contracts, leases, deeds and other routine legal documentation. He/she researches the relevant rulings, statutes, and precedents that can be used while answering the requests for various legal opinions. He/she is involved in conducting factual investigation and prepares the related pleadings and drafts the relevant correspondence. He/she reviews the most recent court cases, legislation, publications and correspondence and may at times need to attend the court proceedings to take down the minutes, notes, dictation, etc., and may perform other related legal work.
Essential Skills and Abilities
To be successful as a legal assistant, you need a variety of different skills and abilities. Excellent written and oral communication skills, strong time management and organization skills, ability to work independently, etc., are some of the basic requirements. It will be an asset if you are a person who is able to maintain complete confidentiality about the vital legal data and information of the clients. A keen eye for details and accuracy along with proficiency in processing word documents, spreadsheets, etc., are some of the other skills. Good analytical and researching skills along with the ability to maintain excellent interpersonal skills will prove to be of great help as well.
The minimum and the most basic education required to be eligible for the post of a legal assistant is that an individual should have completed an associate degree or a bachelor's degree with some kind of relevant paralegal certification. The individuals with a master's degree in paralegal studies would definitely get more preference. Some course in legal applications, legal research, etc., along with some previous internship or job experience would also be preferred by some employers.
The job of this professional is full time and some may opt to work only during the busy times. The individuals in this profession may need to work for long hours in case there is some targeted deadline that needs to be met. These are generally employed in government, legal services, corporations, law firms, etc.
The median salary package ranges in between $46,000 to $52,000. The minimum salary offered is close to $30,000, while the maximum can be in the range nearing $76,000. The individuals working in large cities get high salaries than those working in the smaller cities.
According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of employment of these professionals is expected to rise by about twenty percent in the coming ten years. To handle the legal matters of the corporate organization, many employers are now relying on hiring these legal assistants to provide them with the necessary legal support that was previously handled by the lawyers. Though there is really a stiff competition in this field, the individuals with relevant educational background and experience are sure to rise to higher positions as well.
Therefore, to ensure a rewarding legal career ahead, it is essential that you carry out the legal assistant responsibilities effectively and efficiently.