what is a legal assistant?

Do you have good interpersonal skills to handle people graciously, listen attentively and manage clients? Then you will enjoy working as a legal assistant. Your role is crucial to a legal firm or courthouse since you perform communication and office administration duties. You ensure the courthouse or law firm is efficient by offering clerical services and supporting legal professionals with their duties.

As a legal assistant, you handle communication duties in a law office. For instance, you receive clients when they walk through the door and direct them to their appointment. Since you are responsible for internal and external communication, you manage email correspondence with suppliers, answer phone calls and create reports.

Lawyers rely on legal assistants to perform their duties efficiently. For instance, you help legal professionals manage their schedules and appointments and respond to emails. You also coordinate meetings and conferences with other law firms and ensure client accounts are up-to-date. Since you are in charge of the paperwork, you create an information management system, filing system and databases to secure clients’ paperwork. Sometimes, you perform legal duties like doing legal research and writing legal briefs.

Would working as a legal assistant suit your interpersonal and organizational skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a legal assistant role.

legal assistant roles

average legal assistant salary

According to Job Bank, the average salary of a legal assistant is $50,097 per year or an hourly rate of $25.69. When starting as a legal assistant, you mainly perform general administrative duties, and you start with a salary of $39,975 annually. After working a few years in the role, your earning potential improves since you can take up complex duties like legal work. Your salary increases to over $74,181 yearly.

what factors affect the salary of a legal assistant?

As a legal assistant, your earnings are determined by various factors. For instance, your educational capabilities influence your earning potential. When you have a secondary school qualification, you are likely to earn less than a legal assistant who has completed a college program. A legal background also improves your earning potential.

The average earnings for legal assistants vary depending on the region or territory. For instance, working in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia attracts a lower salary than in Quebec or Ontario. The company you work for also influences your earnings. When you work in a large law firm, you receive a higher salary than legal assistants in smaller law firms.

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types of legal assistants

As a legal assistant, you can specialize in the following roles:

  • corporate legal assistant: as a legal assistant, you work with corporate lawyers who assist companies in preparing contracts for companies. You help lawyers prepare shareholder agreements, employee contracts and stock option plans. You also perform legal research to help companies review the company regulations and prepare legal briefs for lawyers.
  • litigation legal assistant: as a legal assistant, you assist criminal or litigation lawyers with their court cases. You organize the paperwork and maintain documents received from clients. Your job is to organize the schedule for the lawyer to ensure they attend all court sessions and the witnesses are available for court. Sometimes, you are expected to transport exhibits to court and organize the documents in the courtroom.
woman smiling, while sitting in front of desktop computer
woman smiling, while sitting in front of desktop computer

working as a legal assistant

If you love working in the legal environment, becoming a legal assistant is a good start for your career. Here are the specific duties and responsibilities expected in the role.


legal assistant skills and education

Some of the educational requirements for legal assistants include:

  • educational qualifications: most employers require a high school diploma for an entry-level position. However, it helps to have a college-level qualification. A college program for legal assistants can take one or two years and imparts knowledge of legal and administrative duties.
  • work experience: you require experience to work as a legal assistant. Most law firms train legal assistants to ensure they understand their requirements. You also gain experience through internships and entry-level jobs.

competencies and characteristics of legal assistants

Some of the skills of a legal assistant include:

  • writing skills: as a legal assistant, you prepare documents for lawyers and reply to email correspondence. You require good writing skills to prepare email briefs and ensure the legal documents have proficient spelling and grammar. Your writing skills are also useful in transcription and documenting legal proceedings accurately.
  • technical skills: as a legal assistant, you should understand the latest technology. Some of your duties include running video conferencing sessions and creating presentations and document backups. You require expertise in legal software, document management systems and word processing.
  • organizational skills: lawyers and paralegals are busy professionals, and you are responsible for their schedules. You require organizational skills to balance ongoing trials, paperwork and client meetings. You help paralegals organize their duties by overseeing their calendars, handling legal documents and managing projects.
  • interpersonal skills: as a legal assistant, you interact with various law firms or court professionals. You are expected to greet people graciously, defuse tense situations and relay instructions from lawyers clearly. You require interpersonal skills to listen attentively, interpret non-verbal cues and express ideas.
  • attention to detail: you handle a lot of paperwork as a legal assistant. Legal documents require precision, so it is important to be detail-oriented. Your detail-oriented skills also help you spot and correct errors and identify missing evidence or double-booked meetings.

FAQs about legal assistant jobs

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a legal assistant.


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