What is a legal assistant?

Legal assistants play an essential role in the day-to-day operations of the law office or legal department. They perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents. They are responsible for using electronic database management for electronic discovery related to a trial, such as websites, accounting databases, documents, data, and emails. 

How to become a legal assistant?

To become a legal assistant, you could study for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in law, legal studies or paralegal practice. There’s a lot of competition for places on law degrees, so you’ll need good grades in your entry qualifications.

You also could take a college course before you look for work. Courses include:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Legal Studies
  • CILEx Level 3 Certificate in Law and Practice
  • Level 3 Legal Secretaries Diploma

Legal assistant duties

Legal assistant duties are diverse and depend on the employer and specialty, but some responsibilities are common to most:

  • Manage client billing by preparing, finalizing, and sending out bills, as well as resolving billing issues in cooperation with the billing attorney
  • Helps develop cases by maintaining contact with people involved in the case; scheduling depositions; preparing and forwarding summonses and subpoenas; drafting complaints; preparing and filing discovery requests; preparing responses to opposing counsel; generating status reports
  • Investigate case facts to ensure the consideration of all relevant information
  • Search legal records collected in computer databases
  • Answer and direct phone calls
  • Monitor deadlines and juggle calendars

Legal assistant skills

To be an effective legal assistant, you’ll need certain skills and competencies. The following are often cited in job vacancies:

  • Proficiency in English
  • Working knowledge of case management software
  • Excellent secretarial and organisational skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality
  • Research skills 
  • Time management skills

How to find a legal assistant job

These jobs are advertised online, in local newspapers and at your local jobcentre. To find all the legal assistant jobs near you, you need to:

  • Search for legal assistant jobs on popular job websites such as; Indeed, Total Jobs and CV Library
  • Use the DWP’s Find A Job Service
  • Check local newspapers and local Facebook groups, especially groups dedicated to local jobs

Legal Assistant Job Titles

When you search for legal assistant jobs online, be aware that the jobs might be advertised using a different job title. Popular job titles for legal assistant jobs include;

  • Paralegal
  • Legal aide
  • Legal assistant
  • Legal secretary
  • Legal clerk

What does a legal assistant do?

The job of a legal assistant varies depending on the job role and the company you’re working for. Check the duties and responsibilities of legal assistant job advertisements to find jobs that best suit your skills and experience. 

The day-to-day tasks of a legal assistant include;

  • Researching and preparing legal documents
  • Handling confidential information
  • Interviewing clients and witnesses
  • Giving clients legal information
  • Going to court
  • Handling a caseload of clients
  • Following instructions
  • General office tasks