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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Legal Assistant Job Description Examples:


Example 1

Putting people first, every day: BDO is a firm built on a foundation of positive relationships with our people and our clients. Each day, we rely on our professionals to provide exceptional service, and help our clients by providing advice and insight they can trust. In turn, we offer an environment that fosters a people-first culture with a high priority on your personal and professional growth. Your opportunity: Our Montreal office is looking for a Senior Administrative Assistant to join BDO Law LLP and own the following Provide support to a team of approximately 5-10 professionals. Assist with file management, including but not limited to file opening (conduct independence checks and legal conflict checks, attend to file openings, draft engagement letters and attend to file closings) coordinate execution packages and signatures on closing, draft reporting letters, prepare closing books etc. Maintain monthly billing records, including but not limited to assisting with weekly docketing, and billings and collections. Type and format correspondence, reports or other documents based on drafts, including correction of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Plan and organize internal and external appointments, conferences, and meetings. Perform administrative tasks related to the department's operations such as research, coordination of special events, updating documents, and filings. How do we define success for your role? You demonstrate BDO's core values through all aspect of your work: Integrity, Respect and Collaboration You understand your client’s industry, challenges, and opportunities; clients describe you as positive, professional, and delivering high quality work You identify, recommend, and are focused on effective service delivery to your clients You share in an inclusive and engaging work environment that develops, retains & attracts talent You actively participate in the adoption of digital tools and strategies to drive an innovative workplace You grow your expertise through learning and professional development. Your experience and education You have a minimum of 5 years of experience in administrative work. Prior experience in a Business Law Group is an asset. You demonstrate integrity and a high degree of attention to detail. You have excellent knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite. You have excellent verbal and written communications skills in both French and English. You have a professional attitude at all times, focused on internal and external client service. You value teamwork, client service, and quality in detailed work. You have excellent organizational skills and the ability to manage priorities while meeting deadlines. Why BDO? Our firm is committed to providing an environment where you can be successful in the following ways: We enable you to engage with the firm's strategic plan, and be a key contributor to the success and growth of the firm. We help you be the best professional you can be in our services, industries and markets. Achieve your personal goals outside of the office and make an impact on your community. Giving back, it adds up: Where company meets community. BDO is actively involved in our communities by supporting local charity initiatives. We support staff with local and national events where you will be given the opportunity to contribute to your community. Total rewards that matter: We pay for performance with competitive total cash compensation that recognizes and rewards your contribution. We provide flexible benefits from day one, and a market leading personal time off policy. We are committed to supporting your overall wellness beyond working hours, and provide reimbursement for wellness initiatives that fit your lifestyle. Everyone counts: We believe every employee should have the opportunity to participate and succeed. Through leadership by our Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, we are committed to a workplace culture of respect, inclusion, and diversity. We recognize and celebrate the valuable differences among each of us, including race, religious beliefs, physical or mental disabilities, age, place of origin, marital status, family status, gender or gender identity and sexual orientation. If you require accommodation to complete the application process, please contact us. Ready to make your mark at BDO? Click “Apply now” to send your up-to-date resume to one of our Talent Acquisition Specialists. To explore other opportunities at BDO, check out our careers page.

Example 2

Whitelaw Twining is a leading Western Canadian regional law firm with a focus on litigation and with offices in Vancouver and Calgary providing a full-range of legal expertise. We are an innovative, passionate team and we’ve been raising the bar for litigation for over 40 years. Founded in Vancouver in [phone number], Whitelaw Twining started as a small, boutique firm with the goal of providing superior client service while promoting a professional, supportive and engaging environment to our team members. Since the beginning, we’ve pushed beyond standard litigation to find progressive, creative solutions for our clients. We build long-term relationships with local, national and international clients, supporting them so their businesses can prosper. Our firm strives to maintain the positive aspects of a small firm environment that encourages team and social interaction between staff and lawyers. We believe that our staff work best in a collegial atmosphere where they are empowered to build their careers and make a positive contribution to our work environment. Join us at WT! We are currently seeking a Legal Administrative Assistant to join our team. If you are a Legal Administrative Assistant looking to continue to develop your career in a fun, busy and professional environment, this is the role for you. This is a position for an ambitious professional with 2-3+ years of post-certificate experience gained at a reputable law firm. The successful candidate for this position will be able to build positive working relationships, have a keen eye for details and will be able to handle a busy work load. Responsibilities: Prepare and draft various correspondence and documents Draft standard letters, documents briefs, and pleadings Set trials, discoveries, etc. and prepare required documentation Interact with clients by phone and in person Set appointments for clients Maintain filing system including a bring-forward system Sort incoming mail and prepare outgoing mail Delegate tasks to junior level Legal Administrative Assistant on the team Perform other related duties as required Qualifications: Graduate of a Legal Administrative Assistant program Minimum 2-3+ years of experience as a Legal Administrative Assistant in a litigation practice Excellent English oral and written skills Professional manner in communication with clients Strong administration and organization skills Able to draft standard correspondence and documents with minimal supervision Able to work independently and as part of a team Able to multi-task and prioritize work Litigation experience preferred Benefits & Perks: We offer a comprehensive salary and benefits package that is very competitive, together with opportunities for personal and professional growth. Our benefits include: annual firm closure for mental health day opportunities to participate in a variety of health & wellness related activities and programs a wellness allowance for fitness expenses; an annual allowance; flexible health and dental coverage; long term disability insurance; personal days to help balance outside commitments; early departure on the Friday before long weekends; employee assistance program; monetary incentive for employee referrals; ongoing staff appreciation events; flexible work arrangement options; casual day every Friday; and an outgoing firm culture that provides lots of social opportunities to connect with your co-workers. Diversity & Inclusivity: Whitelaw Twining recognizes that respect for the dignity and worth of everyone who works at the Firm is the foundation of harmonious and productive working relationships. We commit to providing a professional atmosphere which promotes equal opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices. All prospective, current, and former employees will be treated fairly and equally regardless of race, age, colour, gender, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental ability, or sexual orientation. While we thank all applicants, only those selected for interviews will be contacted. No phone calls please. Please submit your resume and cover letter to:

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.


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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.


Can a Legal Assistant represent clients?

A Legal Assistant cannot directly represent clients in court proceedings. While they provide important support roles in court cases, Legal Assistants are not Attorneys so they cannot legally fill that role.

Job Description Examples

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