Legal assistants, often considered the backbone of a law firm, are professionals who undertake primarily administrative work for lawyers. Their role, while versatile, mainly involves administrative and secretarial tasks to support attorneys, as defined by the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA). For those with adequate training and experience, their responsibilities may extend to overlap with those of paralegals, such as conducting legal research.
These assistants work intimately with attorneys, freeing up lawyers from time-intensive administrative tasks that can otherwise hinder their productivity and efficiency. This way, legal assistants enhance a law firm’s functioning by making lawyers’ lives easier.
So, What tasks do legal assistants usually do?
- Compile, analyze, and arrange legal documents and evidence for attorney review and preparation of cases
- Compose and scrutinize legal papers and correspondences, such as contracts and legal claims
- Study laws, regulations, and legal articles to assist in the assembly of reports, case files, and legal counsel
- Oversee client invoicing by formulating, finalizing, and dispatching invoices, while also dealing with any billing issues in collaboration with the responsible attorney
- Liaise with clients and witnesses to plan meetings, interviews, and depositions
- Manage, arrange, and keep records of documents in either physical or digital filing systems
- Deliver broad administrative support, like managing the attorney’s schedule and arranging travel plans.
Let’s briefly compare legal assistants and paralegals:
|Primarily responsible for administrative tasks.||Performs tasks similar to lawyers under attorney supervision.|
|Tasks include scheduling, managing files, and drafting correspondence.||Tasks involve conducting legal research, drafting legal documents, and assisting with trial preparation.|
|May also assist with legal research and document preparation.||May also interview clients, gather evidence, and assist with case management.|
While paralegals have more specialized legal training and can handle complex legal tasks, the exact roles and responsibilities can vary depending on the specific law firm or organization.