Do you think a career as alegal assistantcould be right for you?Are you wonderingwhat the job involvesand whatqualificationsyou needto succeed?As the name suggests, legal assistantsassistlawyers, and skills such as communication, critical thinking, and teamwork will allow youtoexcel.
In this post, we’ll be discussing all of the essential skills that every legal assistant should have. As a quick summary, the top 10 skills for legal assistants are:
- Organizational Skills
- Writing Skills
- Technical Skills
- Detail Oriented
- Interpersonal Skills
- Understanding Legal Terminology and Documentation
- Critical Thinking
What Does a Legal Assistant Do?
Legal assistantsperform similar duties asotheradministrative assistants, but of course,the legal fieldpresentsauniqueset of challenges.Although responsibilitiesvarydepending on thetype and size of the firm,legal assistants may be asked to…
- Answer phone calls, respond to emails and greet clients
- Schedule meetings, appointments, and interviews
- Maintainlegal files andotherrelevant information indigital databases
- Write drafts of contracts, letters,and legal documents
- Gather information about cases
- Conduct researchon laws and regulations
- Reference law libraries
- Assist during trials and hearings
- Prepare and deliver affidavits
- Perform billing/accountingduties
What’s the Difference BetweenaLegal Assistant and Paralegal?
Usually the terms legal assistant and paralegal are used interchangeably.Technically,the title paralegal isreservedfor someone who is certified through an organization such astheNational Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)ortheNational Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).Neither legal assistants nor paralegals are qualified to givelegal advice or sign pleadings orformaldocuments.
Where Do Legal Assistants Work?
Most legal assistantswork out oflaw officesor law firms. However, government agenciesand legal departments in large corporations also hire legal assistants.As an office job,the position requires lotsof sitting and computer work.In some cases,legal assistants maybe askedtotravel to court cases or gather/deliver documents. Generally, the job is fast-paced.Tight deadlinesand fluctuating workloadsmay lead to overtime.
How Much Money Do Legal Assistants Make?
A legal assistant’s salary depends onthe type and sizeof the lawfirm, the individual’s experience, and the location of the office.In other words, a legal assistant with fifteen years of experiencestationedin a nationally-recognized corporate lawfirmin downtown Manhattan is going to make more than a legalassistant with one year of experience working fora singlelawyer in a small town. Entry-level rates begin at $13 to $14 per hour with top rates of up to $39 per hour. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019)
What’s the Long-Term Job Outlook for Legal Assistants?
Although there is some concerntechnological advancementswill replace administrative workers, legal assistants perform many duties that are difficult toreplicatewith artificial intelligence. And accordingtotheU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for legal assistants is expected to grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028. This rate is considered much faster than average for all occupations.
What Qualifications Are Required to Become a Legal Assistant?
Somelawyershire assistants without a legal background and train them on the job. However, a two or four-year degree in paralegal studies can improvethechances of landing a position. Another option iseitherahigh school or college degree combined with aparalegal studies certificate. BothNALAorNFPAofferthesecertifications.
10 Essential Skills for Legal Assistants
1. Organizational Skills
Attorneys are busy professionals. Between ongoing trials, piles of paperwork, and daily meetings, their offices can easily become chaotic. Legal assistants with exceptional organizational skills keep their bosses organized too.By completing tasks such asoverseeing calendars,managing projects, andhandling paperwork, legal assistants help law officestorun at top efficiency.
2. Writing Skills
Most lawyersrely ontheirlegal assistants to draft everything from everyday emails toprofessional legal documents. As a result, legal assistants must know how to communicate effectively through writing,create documents according to accepted formatsandproofread. Strong spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and transcription skills all prove to be useful.
3. Technical Skills
As experts in the law,attorneysoftendon’t have thetimeto stay up to date on the latest technology. Therefore, legal assistantsusuallytake care of a variety of tasks ranging from creating presentations to running video conferencing sessions to backing up files. Legal assistants with knowledgeof Microsoft Office,legalsoftware,and document management systemshave an advantage over their less tech-savvy counterparts.In addition, legal assistantsmaywishtoencourageongoing technologicalupgrades, so their officesremain competitive withother up–and–coming firms.
4. Detail Oriented
In a trial, even a minor mistake could result in a lost case. And legal documents are no less forgiving. It’s up to legal assistants to catch and correct the errorseveryone else may have missed. This includes everything from typos todouble-booked meeting to missing pieces of evidence.Accuracy, note-taking skills,andattention to detailarenecessary.
5. Interpersonal Skills
On a daily basis, legal assistants may interact with stressed-out attorneys, unhappy clients, difficult members of the opposing counsel, and unwilling witness as well as judges, coworkers, vendors, and more. These encounters may take place face to face, over the phone, in a video conferences,or through email, text messaging or writing. A top-notch legal assistant should be able togreet people graciously,provideinstruction,anddiffuse tense situations. Thisinvolveslistening, expressing ideas clearly, interpreting non-verbal cues, negotiating, and being emphatic.
6. Understanding of Legal Terminology and Documentation
Full masteryofcommonly-usedlegal termsis essential for any legal assistant.Words and phrases likeacquittal, habeas corpus,and subpoenamustbe second nature to them. Furthermore, sincethe job requires regularreading, writing,and interpretation oflegal documents,theyshouldbe familiar with everything fromtrial briefstoliving wills.
Law offices can behigh-stress environments. Legal assistantsmay by working with several different people on several different projects each day. Plus, many assignmentsarefinished under tight deadlines. Thus, legal assistants need to be able to prioritize, delegate, and keep track of multiple workflows… all while staying calm under pressure.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. And often, legal assistants are the ones who must quicklycome up withsolutions. Whether it’s dealing withdouble-booked meetingsor locating a hard-to-find expert witness, legal assistantsdiscoverclever ways around roadblocks.
9. Critical Thinking
Since legal assistants are responsible for conducting research, strong analytical skillsare a necessity. They must know how to search forinformation, identify trustworthy sourcesanddistinguishrelevant facts. Especially when working on a caseor with an attorney, theyneed to know whentointerveneand when tostep back.Ultimately, the critical thinking skills of a talented legal assistant can be an amazingresource.
Legal assistants depend on many people and many people dependon them to get the job done. This remains true regardless of the size of the office. To be successful,theymust view themselves not as asingleperson working in isolationbutratheras a contributing member ofa largerteam.Andsince legal assistantsseldomarethe star of the show, they should be willing to accept their role as a supporting, albeitvitally important, player.
What Can You Do to Improve YourLegal AssistantSkill Set?
As with any profession, legal assistants need a combination of both hard and soft skills. Technical or hard skillswill part ofyour formal training. In classes (or in some cases on the job), you’ll learn legal terminology,complete research projects, and practice writing legal documents. Many of these technical skills are useful throughout your career, while others, such as knowledge of the latest legal softwareor tort reformtrends, will require you to consistentlyreskill yourself. To stay on top ofongoing changeswithin the industry, you may choose to enroll in online or in-person classes, attend conferences and/or regularly read legal articles, books, and blogs.Soft skills, on the other hand,are more difficult to learn inatraditionalsetting. Nevertheless, youstillcan work toward improving your natural abilities and addressing areas of weakness. For example, if you want tobe a better team player, you couldset a goalto assist three of your co-workerswithprojectsbefore the end of themonth and, of course,follow through.
What Factors Should You Consider WhenLooking for a Positionas a Legal Assistant?
Because duties varydepending on thetype and size of the firm, you’llwant to takethisinto accountwhen applying for arole. For example, at a small office, you may oversee a wide variety oftasksbuthave limited opportunities for advancement. Whereas at a larger firm,you maybe limited to a fewspecific tasksbut have lots of opportunitiesto climb the corporate ladder.Also, if you are interested in acertainarea of the law, such asimmigration, you maywishto look for an officespecializing in that area.
Are You Hoping to Find a Job as a Legal Assistant?
If you are a legal assistantlooking for workin the Atlanta area, BOS Staffing can help! Our recruiters would be happy to review yourskillsetandmatch you with the right-fit law office.Learn more about our hiring processand launch your job search today!
What skills do you need to be a legal secretary? ›
Legal Secretary Skills and Qualifications:
Documentation skills. Time management and organizational skills. Meeting planning. Supply management.
- Have a strong understanding of legal terminology.
- Attend meetings and take notes for lawyers in attendance.
- Transcribe, proofread, and file legal documents before deadlines.
- Manage travel logistics for one or more attorneys.
- Answer phones and take messages.
- Manage schedules.
Legal secretaries must have the skills to copy and paste, create spreadsheets, print documents, write emails, search for legal documents, and fax and transcribe notes. Legal assistants spend much of their time corresponding by phone and email.Why should we hire you answer legal assistant? ›
I believe a good legal assistant has great organizational and interpersonal skills, as well as an attention to detail and a high level of focus. They should also be passionate about what they do and be motivated to complete their work to the best of their ability.
Legal assistants should be outstanding writers to prepare emails and memos that serve as representations of the lawyers they support. They must also have good phone manners and interpersonal skills while speaking with clients or other parties.What are 4 basic skills that a good secretary must possess? ›
- Verbal and written communication. ...
- Computer and technical skills. ...
- Typing and note-taking. ...
- Organization. ...
- Problem solving and critical thinking. ...
- Attention to detail. ...
- Customer service abilities. ...
- Flexibility and adaptability.
Legal assistants spend a good deal of their time corresponding by phone and email. For this reason, communication and interpersonal skills are essential for legal assistants to possess.
Highly professional assistant with a comprehensive command of legal, office, administrative and clerical support functions combined with a knowledge of legal documents, court filings and legal procedures. Dedicated, reliable and able to handle a high volume of assignments.What skills do employers look for in legal secretaries? ›
Be well-organized and manage multiple tasks. Have good attention to detail. Type quickly and accurately. Understand and prepare legal documents such as contracts, agreements, statements of claim, legal motions and affidavits.
The ability to search and analyze, apply logic
To work effectively with it, a lawyer simply needs analytical and logical skills: Consideration of complex written documents, drawing conclusions, and establishing links between legal entities. Development of logical thinking. Structuring and evaluating arguments.
Which skill ranks first that a legal secretary must possess? ›
Whether it's finding legal documents for an attorney, finding directions to a meeting between an attorney and his client, or locating an expert witness for a case, you need to be able to carry out efficient research if you want to succeed in a career as a legal secretary.
- Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. ...
- Highlight that you'll fit in and be a great addition to the team. ...
- Describe how hiring you will make their life easier and help them achieve more.
Your answer to the "tell me about yourself" question should describe your current situation, your past job experience, the reason you're a good fit for the role, and how you align with the company values. Tell the interviewer about your current position and a recent big accomplishment or positive feedback you received.What should I expect from a Legal Assistant interview? ›
An interviewer may ask you a couple of in-depth questions to learn more about what they can expect from you if you're hired. Your answers can show how you support a legal team, the knowledge you have about different legal processes and how you may have managed a difficult situation in your previous work history.What is one quality all successful legal secretaries must have and why? ›
A good Legal Secretary will always arrive early, whether it be for work or a meeting. It shows that you care enough to be there not only on time, but ahead of schedule. Accuracy is also incredibly important when it comes to filling in or typing up legal documents – there can be no room for error.What is the most a legal assistant can make? ›
|Hourly Wage||$ 17.51||$ 42.61|
|Annual Wage (2)||$ 36,410||$ 88,640|
- Communication (both listening and speaking skills)
- Work ethic.
- Leadership qualities.
- Time management.
- Decision making.
- Conflict resolution.
Within this definition, successful administration appears to rest on three basic skills, which we will call technical, human, and conceptual.What are the five soft skills needed to be an effective employee? ›
These traits include leadership, self-awareness, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. In fact, an important criteria during the hiring process at Google is screening for “learning ability.” Having great soft skills can be a huge game-changer as you go through your career.What skills should I put on my paralegal resume? ›
- Legal research.
- Legal documents.
- Client interviews.
- Office and court procedures.
- Court calendaring.
What are 3 duties that paralegals usually perform? ›
The Paralegal (PL) assists with case planning, development, and management, legal research, interviews clients, gathers facts and retrieves information, drafts and analyzes legal documents and collects, complies and utilizes technical information, to make recommendations to an attorney.What are strong administrative skills? ›
- Strong organizational skills. Administrative and organizational skills go hand in hand. ...
- Communication skills. ...
- Teamwork and interpersonal skills. ...
- Customer service skills. ...
- Problem-solving skills. ...
- Technology and software skills.
- Analytical and evaluative skills. Every legal problem requires analytical and evaluative skills. ...
- Teamwork. ...
- Written communication. ...
- A global mind-set. ...
- Business sense. ...
- Organisational skills. ...
- Passion for the law firm.
It's a High-Stress Job
This is a demanding job with a lot of hard deadlines. You will be responsible for many different tasks at the same time. It can take a lot out of you. As with any stressful job, it's important to take care of yourself to perform at your best.
- Critical thinking and problem solving.
- Teamwork and collaboration.
- Professionalism and strong work ethic.
- Oral and written communications skills.
Soft skills are the elements that enable you to perform your role of lawyer to the best of your ability. Examples of this would be leadership talents, empathy, or communication abilities – they are skills which characterise your relationships with others.What is the most important skill in law? ›
Communication. Strong oral and written communication skills are crucial and without them you'll struggle to carry out the duties of a solicitor effectively. Excellent listening ability is also important when working with clients, as you need to be able to build relationships and engender confidence.What skills do you believe are most important in the role of and administrative legal assistant and why? ›
Legal assistants spend a good deal of their time corresponding by phone and email. For this reason, communication and interpersonal skills are essential for legal assistants to possess.
- How to increase your typing speed (up to 50 - 60 WPM)
- Effective business communication (different forms of written communication and the lingo you will need to be an expert on)
- Audio transcription/dictaphone typing.
- Extensive Microsoft office training.
- Ability to multitask. ...
- Strong attention to detail. ...
- Willingness to learn. ...
- Expertise in organization. ...
- Psychic abilities.
What makes a successful legal team? ›
Its ability to operate collaboratively as a team and with its clients. Whether team members have the requisite knowledge and skills. Whether the team has the necessary resources. Having clearly defined goals.What makes a good legal team? ›
A modern legal team should be at the heart of an organisation and be regarded as a key resource and valued business partner. To achieve this, your team must talk the same language as its clients, understand the business and demonstrate the value of its contribution to the organisation.How do I ace a legal secretary interview? ›
You should explain your experience or interest in the practice area, as well as demonstrating your excellent communication skills, detail-oriented nature and commitment to client care using relevant examples.What is the difference between a legal secretary and a legal assistant? ›
A legal assistant helps lawyers with court documentation and research while a legal secretary focuses on clerical and administrative office tasks. A legal assistant is generally higher up than a legal secretary and typically earns more.Is a paralegal better than a legal secretary? ›
Paralegals are more involved in preparing cases, arguments and research for lawyers to present to clients. Their work entails more legal expertise than the work of Legal Secretaries.