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Attorney Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

An Attorney, also known as a Lawyer, provides legal advice, represents clients in legal proceedings, and draws up legal documents such as contracts and wills. Attorneys can work for a wide range of clients, from providing legal counsel to families to working for a law firm or even specializing in corporate law for organizations. Their duties can be wide-ranging and may include advising clients of their legal rights, conducting research on legal precedents, and presenting clients’ cases before courts of law, tribunals, and boards.

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Attorney duties and responsibilities

Providing legal counsel for clients is one of the top responsibilities for Attorneys, whether their clients are private individuals or organizations. While Attorneys typically specialize in a particular area of law, they may research and advise on other legal matters or refer clients to a specialist in a particular area, if need be. Ultimately, protecting their clients’ best interests is the key to success as an Attorney. Attorneys may be expected to:

  • Provide advice to clients regarding their legal rights and all matters related to law
  • Prepare statements of legal opinions and draw up legal documents including wills, divorces, real estate transactions, and contracts.
  • Research legal precedents and gather evidence in preparation for legal proceedings or providing legal advice
  • Plead clients’ cases before courts of law, tribunals, and boards
  • Act as a mediator to resolve conflicts or disputes, including the negotiation of settlements of civil disputes
  • Act as executor, trustee, or guardian in estate and family law matters
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What does an Attorney do?

Attorneys generally specialize in certain areas of the law, for example, corporate law, contract law, criminal law, taxation law, and immigration law, among others. Attorneys will often perform a broad range of duties. Attorneys can provide mediation services to resolve disputes. They also take on more technical responsibilities such as researching legal precedents and gathering evidence to provide both legal advice to clients and best represent them in court. Day to day, Attorneys will also draw up legal documents, including real estate transactions, wills, divorces, and contracts.

Attorney skills and qualifications

A combination of strong research and comprehension skills, and excellent communication and people skills are key skills for a successful Attorney. Both elements are imperative to perform the role well, as complex research and investigation are often necessary, alongside the ability to present those findings to clients and provide legal advice based on the research undertaken. Top skills for Attorneys include:

  • Proficient multi-tasking, as Attorneys often work for multiple clients on multiple tasks on any given day
  • Excellent research and analysis capabilities to provide informed legal opinions
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, including advising, representing, and negotiating on the behalf of clients
  • Thorough knowledge of law, government, and business
  • Attention to detail during research projects and in the creation of legal documents
  • Ability to work independently and self-direct work

Attorney experience requirements

Candidates will have experience in the legal industry before undertaking an Attorney position. Applicants with 2+ years of experience within Legal Assistant, Paralegal, or other junior positions will often have a good understanding of the industry. Any relevant internship experience is also beneficial.

Attorney education and training requirements

Attorneys must successfully complete the bar examination to be legally able to practice law. Licensing by the provincial or territorial law society is also required, though regulatory bodies vary by region. Candidates are often expected to have completed a period of articling to qualify for the role.

Attorney Salary Expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, an Attorney in Canada can expect to earn an average salary of $121,800 per year. This varies depending on location, experience, and size of the company hiring.

Job description samples for similar positions

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Attorney job description FAQs

What is the difference between an Attorney and a Notary?

Broadly speaking, Notaries generally handle non-contentious legal matters, including drafting and preparing legal documents, acting as legal witnesses, and arranging the proceedings of agreements. Whereas an Attorney can represent clients in court, and is likely to be more involved with the negotiation and mitigation process when settling civil disputes. While both Attorneys and Notaries are employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments, and various organizations, Attorneys can also be found working for law firms and prosecutor’s offices. Notaries are also employed by notary offices.

Who reports to an Attorney?

Attorneys often work independently. However, Attorneys may have a legal assistant or law clerk who reports to them in larger organizations or law firms. If an Attorney has a direct report, they will be expected to provide supervision and direction to their assistants.

What are the day-to-day duties of an Attorney?

Day-to-day Attorney’s duties can vary greatly, depending on the field the Attorney specializes in, and will often vary depending on clients’ needs too. A typical day may include: court appearances, consulting and advising clients, undertaking research, and drafting legal documents and statements.

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