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Legal Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

Legal Assistants, or Paralegals, aid lawyers by helping them with research and organization to prepare for cases. Legal Assistants also provide assistance during court proceedings. Their primary duties include organizing paperwork and fact-checking, aiding in trial preparation, and clerical duties. They handle the details of a case so that attorneys can build the arguments they need to win.

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Legal Assistant duties and responsibilities

Legal Assistants require commitment to perform the high-pressure duties and responsibilities of their job. These duties include:

  • General administrative and clerical duties, from answering phones to filing and making copies
  • Maintaining calendars, scheduling appointments, and completing documents
  • Managing, organizing, and collating legal documents
  • Conducting legal research
  • Communicating with clients, counsel, and court officials
  • Assisting with billing and accounting services
  • Establishing, implementing, and improving existing workflows and administrative procedures
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What does a Legal Assistant do?

Legal Assistants are an important part of any legal team. They are the core people who perform research and organizational tasks to prepare for most hearings, trials, and other court proceedings. They gather and collate evidence, organize files and paperwork, maintain schedules and calendars, correspond with clients and witnesses, and ensure that the entire process proceeds smoothly and efficiently. Some work part-time and others full-time, and specialty areas exist, such as Litigation Legal Assistants and Senior Legal Assistants who supervise entire Paralegal teams.

Legal Assistant skills and qualifications

Performing the above duties and skills of a Legal Assistant position requires extensive, specialized knowledge. Some of the skills and qualifications of a Legal Assistant include:

  • Performing legal research
  • Understanding of legal terminology
  • Working knowledge of civil and criminal law
  • Organizational skills
  • Advanced knowledge of legal software
  • Typing speed of at least 70 words per minute
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and take direction

Legal Assistant experience requirements

Most Legal Assistants have at least two years’ experience working in a law office as a Legal Secretary or Administrative Assistant, with additional experience in various areas of legal practice. There are several levels of Legal Assistant, from entry-level to senior, with each having differing degrees of responsibility. Entry-level Legal Assistants, for example, may not work as closely with Attorneys in trial prep but may perform more research and administrative duties while they learn the ropes.

Legal Assistant education and training requirements

Most Legal Assistants have an associate degree in paralegal studies. Many employers prefer a higher-level education, such as a bachelor’s degree in law or paralegal studies. Some firms prefer formal training and may choose to provide it through an internship or as a Junior Legal Assistant to prepare the candidate for independent work. Some specialize in specific areas of law, such as criminal, civil, or real estate law.

Legal Assistant salary expectations

According to information from Indeed Salaries, Legal Assistants make, on average, $50,856 per year. This may vary according to experience, education, location, and the company.

Job description samples for similar positions

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Job Description FAQs

Is there a difference between a Legal Secretary and a Legal Assistant?

While there is some crossover, Legal Assistants perform more advanced work than Legal Secretaries. Legal Secretaries are dedicated to clerical and administrative tasks, such as calendar maintenance, answering phones, typing correspondence, and other organizational tasks. Legal Assistants perform intensive legal work, such as research and case studies, and assisting counsel in the courtroom. Positions as a Legal Secretary don’t typically require the same level of education as positions for Legal Assistants.

Is there a difference between a Paralegal and a Legal Assistant?

In much the same way, Paralegals generally perform even more advanced legal duties than Legal Assistants. Due to the extensive work they do on specific cases, for example, Paralegals are able to bill clients directly for their work, while Legal Assistants cannot. In some cases, Legal Assistants may advance to become Paralegals, once they have the necessary experience, education, and training.

What does a good Legal Assistant job description look like?

Legal Assistants play a vital role in a firm, so it’s important to attract the right candidate for the position with the job description. The job description should include a general overview of the duties and responsibilities of the Legal Assistant position. Be sure to keep it concise. In the responsibilities section, you can include greater detail about specific job tasks and duties, especially if they’re unusual for most Legal Assistant positions. In the skills, experience, and education sections, outline the required and preferred skills, years of experience, and education level. For example, you may prefer a candidate with two years’ experience, an associate degree, and advanced typing and research skills.

Job Description Examples

Need help writing a job description for a specific role? Use these job description examples to create your next great job posting. Or if you’re ready to hire, post your job on Indeed.

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