What draws students to legal assistant training instead of say, a business administration program? Why choose this career over other positions that also focus on office management?
For most people, it's the specialized nature of legal assistant work that is so appealing. This role demands significant knowledge of several areas of law, and familiarity with important legal procedures and documentation.
As a legal assistant, you'll be helping lawyers manage heavy case loads, providing essential services that keep the office running smoothly, and ensuring the firm makes a good impression on clients.
Specifically what kinds of responsibilities can you expect to be assigned? Typical tasks for legal assistants fall into 3 main categories. Here's how it breaks down.
1. Tasks Related to General Office Administration
These are the kinds of duties any administrative assistant would perform, like photocopying, filing, ordering supplies, and making arrangements for deliveries or maintenance calls.
This part of your work would also include recording and transcribing the minutes of meetings, setting up the conference room, preparing memos or letters dictated by a lawyer, and billing procedures. You don't need specific legal knowledge to fulfill these obligations—they are related to general office administration.
2. Legal-related Tasks
This next category of responsibilities absolutely requires knowledge of legal procedures, and familiarity with the areas of law in which your firm specializes. These tasks are often the most challenging and interesting part of legal assistant work, and could not be completed without quality legal assistant training. Examples include:
- conducting legal research
- preparing legal documents related to family law, litigation, corporate law, wills and estates, etc.
- ensuring important deadlines are met for submitting documents
- attending and taking notes at hearings and conferences
3. Communication & Coordination Tasks
This group of tasks is central to your role as a legal assistant. In many ways, you will be the "face" of the firm; the person clients talk to first, and a key communicator with outside services, suppliers, and other law firms.
You'll also be responsible for internal communications—coordinating schedules and meetings for the lawyers you work for. Other common duties include:
- sending briefs to other law firms
- making appointments for clients and managing the lawyer's schedule
- answering phones and email
- greeting clients as they arrive at the law office
- helping to prepare reports and presentations
- confirming attendees at meeting and conferences
- maintaining a contact database for paper mail-outs and email communications
Important Skills for Legal Assistants
Wondering if you're a good match for legal assistant work? Key skills required to excel in this position include:
- a genuine interest in, and talent for, legal work (reading, writing, research, principles and procedures)
- ability to strictly follow steps and procedures (well organized and methodical)
- impeccable oral and written communication skills
- capacity to focus for long periods of time; strong attention to detail
- discrete and trustworthy (you will be handling confidential documents and be must counted on to protect privacy)
- good interpersonal skills (you can easily build rapport with strangers, are friendly and approachable)
- team player (you work well with others, take instruction well, and can handle constructive criticism)
Interested in learning more about becoming a legal assistant? Ready to explore quality legal assistant colleges in Winnipeg?
Take a look at the Legal Assistant Diploma offered by Herzing College, Winnipeg campus. Click below to browse a detailed course list, see admission requirements, or chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!