The amount of research and paperwork that has to be done in the field of law is dizzying. Since lawyers already have so much on their plates—what with client appointments, court appearances, and the overall strategizing for cases—they need a group of people to help them. Assuming this role are legal assistants.
Also called legal secretaries, these firm members are the administrative assistants of lawyers. They perform various clerical duties for the legal office, like the ones listed further below.
If you have seen too much of Suits or How to Get Away with Murder, and now wish to jump-start a career in a law firm, or much practically, if you have the skills and the qualifications for this position, be guided with this post and these 8+ Sample Resumes.
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So you are very much interested in becoming a legal assistant. If in sports games, athletes come with a lot of people to assist them and to see to their needs—water boys, medics, and other such people—lawyers have legal assistants or legal secretaries. This time, legal assistants have papers and research as their coolers and first aid kits, and the bleachers to athletes’ crew is the law firm or the courtroom to these individuals. For an initial guide on what they do, see these Sample Legal Assistant Job Descriptions.
The Difference Between Legal Assistants and Paralegals
These two, contrary to public belief, are often mistaken for each other, and no, they are definitely not different labels for the same position. Legal assistants or secretaries handle supporting paperwork and other such tasks for cases. Paralegals, on the other hand, have a more direct role into cases. They can write legal paperwork and speak with clients on the behalf of their lawyers. Note here, though, that a legal assistant can become a paralegal.
What You Would Need to Become a Legal Assistant
Hence, what you typically need to be able to work as a legal assistant is an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. This is an undergraduate, four-year course offered in various colleges and universities, and culminates with a certificate verifying the capacity to practice as a paralegal. However, non-holders of this certificate may still be hired in law firms, like law students that offices are hoping to groom and to hire one day.
What You Will Do As a Legal Assistant
Your work will be focused on clerical tasks. This generally involves
- filing legal documents,
- ushering and maintaining correspondence with clients,
- handling lawyers’ schedules,
- doing supporting research for cases,
- arranging necessary paperwork,
- carrying and handing these during cases, and
- transcribing client meetings and courtroom proceedings.
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Your Other Qualifications
To do these duties to the utmost, as a legal assistant you need to have
- attention to detail,
- organizational skill, and
- a proficiency for research.
Additionally, you must also have a pleasant personality or rapport as you correspond with clients, and even counsels from other law firms.
Format your skills and qualifications according to these samples. For clerical positions in other types of offices, see these Office Assistant Resumes.
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