Are you contemplating a job as a legal assistant? Do you have questions about the role and what it takes to be successful? A legal assistant provides support to attorneys and skills like communication, problem-solving, and working with others are necessary for success.
This article will focus on the vital abilities that every legal assistant should possess. To put it briefly, the top 10 capabilities for legal assistants are:
- Capacity to Organize
- Composing Expertise
- Specialized Knowledge
- Attention to Detail
- Interpersonal Capabilities
- Grasp of Legal Nomenclature & Records
- Doing Numerous Activities at Once
- Analytical Thinking
What is the Role of a Legal Assistant?
Tasks that legal assistants tackle are comparable to those of other administrative personnel; however, the legal realm throws different challenges into the mix. The duties that one may be asked to do are contingent on the sort and magnitude of the firm, but they might involve…
- Respond to phone calls, and emails and welcome guests
- Plan meetings, appointments and job interviews
- Manage paperwork
- Preserve legal records and other essential data in electronic repositories
- Compose drafts of contracts, correspondences and legal papers
- Collect data concerning cases
- Investigate laws and regulations
- Consult law libraries
- Support during court proceedings and hearings
- Compile and present affidavits
- Execute billing/accounting functions
What Variations Are There Between a Legal Assistant and a Paralegal?
It is important to understand the dissimilarities between a legal assistant and a paralegal. A legal assistant provides administrative and clerical support to an attorney or a law firm. They typically help with filing documents, scheduling appointments, and organizing files. In comparison, a paralegal performs more complex tasks such as research, writing legal documents, and drafting pleadings. They also often assist with court filings, legal opinions, and legal memorandums.
Interchangeably, the designations of legal assistants and paralegals are frequently utilized. To be precise, someone who has been verified by a body such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) is the only one to be referred to as a paralegal. Despite this, neither legal assistants nor paralegals are allowed to provide legal advice, sign pleadings, or complete formal documents.
In What Kind of Environment Do Legal Assistants Perform Their Duties?
Legal assistants may be found in law offices, law firms, government agencies, or the legal departments of large companies. This job necessitates a great deal of sitting and working with a computer. Legal assistants may be sent on trips to go to court or to pick up/deliver documents. Generally, the job is high-pressure, with tight deadlines and varying amounts of work which may lead to extra hours.
What is the Salary for Legal Assistants?
The salary for legal assistants can vary significantly depending on factors such as the type and size of the law firm, the individual’s experience, and the geographic area of the office. For instance, a legal assistant with fifteen years of experience in a prominent corporate law firm in a large city is going to make more than one with one year of experience working for a single lawyer in a rural area. Entry-level salaries range from $13 to $14 per hour and the highest salaries reach up to $39 per hour according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019.
What are the Prospects for Employment in the Legal Assistant Field in the Long-Term?
It is often feared that technological advancements could put administrative workers out of a job. However, legal assistants carry out many tasks that are too complex for artificial intelligence to replicate. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the demand for legal assistants is expected to rise 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, a rate that is much faster than the average for all other occupations.
What Qualifications Must be Possessed to gain Employment as a Legal Assistant?
Lawyers may not require prior legal experience from their assistants, and instead, opt to train them on the job. Nonetheless, having a two or four-year degree in paralegal studies can help in securing a position. An alternate choice is to possess either a high school or college diploma with a paralegal studies certificate. Both the NALA and NFPA provide these particular credentials.
Ten Necessary Talents for Legal Assistants
Legal aides must possess a variety of expertise to be successful in their profession. Here is an enumeration of the most essential skills that are needed to excel in this role:
1. The Ability to Organize Effectively
Legal practitioners are often overwhelmed due to their numerous obligations. Court cases, documents, and meetings are some of the tasks that consume their attention, leaving their work area in disarray. People with strong organizational abilities, such as legal assistants, help them to stay on top of their game. These assistants are in charge of handling calendars, projects and paperwork, thus allowing the law offices to work at maximum productivity.
2. Writing Abilities
The ability to write is a skill that should be developed and honed to its utmost potential. Writing is essential for communication, both personally and professionally, and having good writing skills is a great asset. It can be used to make a good impression, express one’s thoughts and ideas, and create a powerful impact. If a person can express themselves well in writing, they will have a leg up in the world.
Lawyers depend on their legal aides to draft a broad assortment of materials, from normal emails to formal legal reports. Hence, legal assistants necessitate the capability to communicate expertly in writing, create documents in proper formats, and revise. Being well-versed in spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and transcription are all advantageous.
3. Proficiency in Technical Areas
Law professionals are usually too busy to remain current on the newest tech. Thus, legal assistants often take on jobs like designing presentations, managing video conferencing calls and archiving documents. Those who are familiar with Microsoft Office, legal software and document management systems have a better chance of succeeding than those who lack tech skills. Furthermore, legal assistants should push for regular technological advancements to keep their offices in line with other upcoming firms.
4. Having a Keen Eye for Detail
This person pays close attention to the small elements and can notice subtle differences. They can recognize inconsistencies and make corrections quickly.
A single slip-up in court can lead to an unfavorable outcome, and legal paperwork is just as unforgiving. Legal assistants must be able to identify and correct any mistakes that other people may have overlooked, such as typos, double-booked meetings, or missing proof. To excel in this role, accuracy, note-taking, and a keen eye for detail are a must.
5. Interpersonal Capabilities
The ability to effectively interact with others is a critical component of success in life. Developing strong interpersonal skills can help one to build strong relationships, resolve conflicts, and create a positive environment. Developing these skills takes time and practice, but with a little effort, it is possible to become more adept at interacting with others.
Regularly, legal assistants may need to connect with lawyers in difficult situations, discontented clients, challenging people from the opposing counsel, and uncooperative witnesses as well as judges, co-workers, vendors, and so on. These encounters may occur in a face-to-face setting, over the phone, through video conferences, or written communication, text messages, or emails. A fine legal assistant should be capable of being warm and courteous when meeting people, providing instructions, and managing tense situations. This necessitates paying close attention, understandably articulating ideas, understanding non-verbal messages, bargaining, and being understanding.
6. Comprehension of Legalese and Records
Gaining an understanding of legal terminology and documents is essential for any lawyer. They must be able to interpret what these items mean and be knowledgeable of their various components of them. This knowledge is vital for any legal professional to be able to provide their clients with the best advice and representation possible.
Legal assistants need a complete understanding of commonly-utilized legal terms glossary such as acquittal, habeas corpus, and subpoena. Moreover, they must be knowledgeable in reading, writing, and interpreting legal documents, ranging from trial briefs to living wills.
7. Doing Multiple Tasks Simultaneously
Multi-tasking is the ability to handle more than one task at a time.
The demands on legal assistants can be intense, with multiple projects and tight deadlines, making it essential for them to be able to effectively prioritize, divide up tasks, and monitor many workflows simultaneously. Additionally, it is important for them to stay composed in the face of high-pressure situations.
8. Being Able to Adjust
Adaptability is an important quality, and it is necessary to be able to adjust to different scenarios.
Legal assistants are frequently faced with situations that don’t go as expected and are expected to discover a resolution right away. It can be anything from organizing conflicting meetings to tracking down a hard-to-locate specialist witness, and they must be adept at finding workarounds for the obstacles in their way.
9. Analytical Thinking
Critical thought is essential for examining scenarios and coming to reasoned conclusions. Through the practice of analytical thinking, one can look at a problem from multiple angles and come to a solution that is well thought out and based on facts.
Legal assistants must possess sharp analytical abilities to fulfill their duties of conducting research. This includes the capacity to locate data, recognize reliable sources and determine pertinent facts. When collaborating with an attorney, these professionals need to understand when to take part and when to take a backseat. Ultimately, the critical thinking aptitudes of a skilled legal assistant can be a great asset.
10. Working Together
Regardless of the size of the office, the success of legal assistants relies on the collaboration of the entire team. These individuals must learn to accept their role as key contributors to the team, even if they are not the star of the show. With this in mind, they should understand that many people depend on them, and they, in turn, rely on many other people to get the job done.
How Can You Enhance Your Qualifications as a Legal Assistant?
Legal assistants must cultivate a blend of both hard and soft skills to be successful in their profession. Practical or hard skills will be taught in classes (or in some instances on the job). These skills include learning legal words, conducting research, and writing legal documents. Some of these technical abilities are vital throughout their career, while others, such as knowing the newest legal technology or staying aware of reform trends, require them to continually reskill themselves . To stay up to date with industry developments, they may opt to participate in online or in-person classes, go to conferences, and/or often read legal articles, books, and blogs. Soft skills, on the other hand, are tougher to acquire in a traditional setting, but can still be improved upon and worked on. For instance, if they desire to be a better team player, they could set a goal of helping three of their co-workers with tasks before the month is out and, most importantly, actually follow through.
What Aspects Should Be Examined When Searching for a Role as a Legal Assistant?
When considering a job, the size and type of firm should be taken into account. Smaller organizations may require you to take on a larger range of responsibilities, yet offer fewer chances for promotion. On the other hand, larger firms may limit you to a few tasks, yet provide more options for career advancement. If you are particularly interested in a certain area of law, such as immigration, you should search for an office focused on that topic.
Are You Looking for a Job as a Legal Assistant?
If you are a legal assistant in the Atlanta region seeking employment, BOS Staffing is the place to go! Our recruiters will assess your skills and match you up with the most suitable law firm. Check out our hiring process and start your job search now!