Legal assistant

A legal assistant


Legal assistants work closely together with lawyers and legal representatives in the research and preparation of cases brought to courts. They assist in the paperwork of cases and management of the administrative side of court affairs.

Legal assistants typically perform the following duties:

  • Provide administrative support to lawyers and enhance office effectiveness
  • Handle communication with clients, witnesses etc.
  • Administratively support and attend trials
  • Prepare case briefs and summarize depositions, interrogatories and testimony
  • Conduct investigations and statistical/documentary research
  • Locate and develop case relevant information
  • Type up and file basic legal documents and correspondence
  • Answer and direct phone calls
  • Maintain contact lists
  • Monitor deadlines and juggle calendars

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to legal assistant:

law clerk
corporate legal assistant
judicial assistant
legal aide
corporate law assistant
legal secretary
public administration legal assistant
paralegal specialist

Minimum qualifications

Typically, a legal assistant’s resume includes an associate’s degree or a legal assistant certification. During these programs, one learns legal terminology, the purpose of certain legal documents, law firm practices, word processing, time management, and record keeping.

While formal education is usually required, that’s not always necessary. Law firms may be willing to work with an experienced assistant with strong clerical skills. This person will receive on-the-job training for specific law firm practices and legal documents as needed.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Legal assistant is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Legal assistant career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to legal assistant.

conveyance clerk
legal administrative assistant
court administrative officer
court clerk
case administrator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of legal assistant. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of legal assistant with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

court administrator
court jury coordinator
legal consultant
justice of the peace

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of legal assistant.

  • Legal case management: The procedures of a legal case from opening to closing, such as the documentation that needs to be prepared and handled, the people involved in different stages of the case, and the requirements that need to be met before the case can be closed.
  • Legal research: The methods and procedures of research in legal matters, such as the regulations, and different approaches to analyses and source gathering, and the knowledge on how to adapt the research methodology to a specific case to obtain the required information.
  • Legal department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the legal department within an organisation such as patents, legal cases, and legal compliance.
  • Legal terminology: The special terms and phrases used in the field of law.
  • Court procedures: The regulations which are in place during the investigation of a court case and during a court hearing, and of how these events occur.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of legal assistant.

  • Compile legal documents: Compile and collect legal documents from a specific case in order to aid an investigation or for a court hearing, in a manner compliant with legal regulations and ensuring records are properly maintained.
  • Handle evidence: Handle evidence important for a case in a manner compliant with regulations, in order to not affect the state of the evidence in question and to ensure its pristine condition and usability in the case.
  • Meet deadlines for preparing legal cases: Plan and adjust timings in order to prepare legal documents, collect information and evidence, and contact clients and lawyers in order to prepare the case properly.
  • Study court hearings: Read and interpret court hearings in order to format and process the outcome information of these events.
  • Revise legal documents: Read and interpret legal documents and proofs about happenings in relation with the legal case.
  • Pose questions referring to documents: Revise and formulate questions in regards to documents in general. Investigate about the completeness, confidentiality measures, style of the document, and specific instructions to handle documents.
  • Follow given instructions: Follow instructions to achieve goals and meet deadlines.
  • Manage accounts: Manage the accounts and financial activities of an organisation, supervising that all the documents are correctly maintained, that all the information and calculations are correct, and that proper decisions are being made.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of legal assistant. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Criminal law: Th legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishement of offenders.
  • Civil law: The legal rules and their applications used in disputes between different parties.
  • Civil process order: The legal procedures and standards that courts follow in civil lawsuits.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of legal assistant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Brief court officials: Brief court officials such as judges, barristers, and other representatives on the day’s events, the details of the cases scheduled for that day, attendance, and other matters pertaining court proceedings which are significant.
  • Process commissioned instructions: Process instructions, usually oral ones, provided by managers and directives on actions required to be made. Take note, inquire, and take action on the commissioned requests.
  • Proofread text: Read a text thoroughly, search for, review and correct errors to ensure content is valid for publishing.
  • Perform office routine activities: Program, prepare, and perform activities required to be performed everyday in offices such as mailing, receiving supplies, updating managers and employees, and keeping operations running smoothly.
  • Manage personnel agenda: Schedule and confirm appointments for the personnel of the office, mostly managers and directive employees, with external parties.
  • Respond to enquiries: Respond to enquiries and requests for information from other organisations and members of the public.
  • Record court procedures: Record all the information necessary for proper record maintenance during court hearings, such as the people present, the case, the evidence presented, the sentence made, and other important matters which were brought up during the hearing.
  • Assist judge: Assist the judge during court hearings to ensure the judge has access to all necessary case files, to help maintain order, see the judge is comfortable, and to ensure the hearing occurs without complications.
  • Perform clerical duties: Perform administrative tasks such as filing, typing up reports and maintaining mail correspondence.
  • Meet with clients for legal services: Meet, interview, and advice clients to know their needs in terms of legal matters and to establish the cooperation based on the specialisation of the professional or legal firm.
  • Apply technical communication skills: Explain technical details to non-technical customers, stakeholders, or any other interested parties in a clear and concise manner.

ISCO group and title

3411 – Legal and related associate professionals

  1. Legal assistant – ESCO
  2. Legal Assistant Job Description – LHH
  3. Legal Assistant job description template | Workable
  4. Legal Assistant Job Description |
  5. Featured image: Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash
Last updated on March 3, 2023

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