5 Must-Have Skills for Successful Legal Assistants

  • Legal Assistant
  • May 13, 2024
  • 760 views
  • 5 min read
5 Must-Have Skills for Successful Legal Assistants

The field of law is dynamic, and legal assistants play a significant role in supporting legal operations and bridging the gap between attorneys and clients. However, this all-important role can only be performed with technical skills in litigation, drafting affidavits, legal writing, and legal research. This post will explore the essential skills required to become a valuable player in the legal field.

A legal assistant is a professional who provides a range of support services to a lawyer. They primarily support the law firm’s business operations by managing the front office and incoming phone calls, scheduling appointments, and organizing information. They must possess a solid understanding of the law and are responsible for ensuring that a law firm runs smoothly. They may conduct research or write legal documents if they operate with expanded functions, although these responsibilities typically fall on individuals serving as paralegals. In all cases, they work behind the scenes to ensure that everything is done correctly and can be considered the unsung heroes in the legal field.

Although the words “legal assistant” and “paralegal” are synonymous, technically, there are slight differences. A legal assistant most frequently performs administrative work for an attorney and the attorney’s team, which usually involves organizing files, setting appointments, and preparing correspondence. They may also do legal research under the attorney’s supervision.

A paralegal, on the other hand, will most likely be specially trained to work in the law profession and will often undertake activities that require a great deal of knowledge about the law, such as drafting legal papers, helping to prepare a case for trial, and doing legal research. Several paralegals also get certification or pursue formal education in paralegal studies.

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Technical Qualifications

Legal assistants must possess technical competencies crucial for their work in this age of technology. They must master different legal software suites, such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, to manage cases, conduct legal research, and prepare legal documents efficiently. Additionally, proficiency in electronic filing systems and document management platforms is crucial to fostering collaboration and information access between legal teams.

Litigation

Paralegals play an important role in litigation processes. They support attorneys throughout the litigation process, from filing a complaint to reaching a settlement or trial outcome. To be successful in this role, a legal assistant must have a deep understanding of civil procedures and court rules. 

A skilled assistant knowledgeable about the legal system can significantly benefit attorneys in various aspects of their work. This includes pre-trial preparation, drafting pleadings, and organizing evidence. With a well-versed assistant to help, attorneys can increase their chances of success in their cases.

Legal assistants must be familiar with the various litigation components that paralegals and attorneys complete to provide administrative support. This includes scheduling, filing, and record-keeping related to pending and completed litigation.

Affidavits

The skill to create persuasive affidavits is a crucial trait for a top-notch paralegal. An affidavit is a statement of fact that is sworn to be accurate and is essential for use in supporting motions, establishing facts, and presenting evidence in legal proceedings. Therefore, it is necessary to have a careful approach while preparing the affidavit, with attention to detail, clarity, and preciseness.

Legal assistants frequently interface with clients and are often responsible for the preliminary client intake process. Their notes can jump-start the work of a paralegal as they prepare important legal documents like affidavits.

Legal writing forms the foundation of effective communication in the legal domain. Legal assistants and paralegals must have a thorough understanding of legal terminologies and a mastery of grammar and syntax to produce legally accurate and understandable documents. Paralegals are typically responsible for drafting memoranda and briefs, but legal assistants may play a role in drafting more basic legal correspondence. They also help ensure that written communications are promptly reviewed, distributed to the correct party in the firm, and responded to timely. 

Legal research is a crucial skill that all paralegals must possess to excel in their field, but some legal assistants are also relied upon to do legal research. The ability to research, analyze case law, regulations, and statutes, and synthesize complex legal concepts is essential to career advancement in the legal field, so legal assistants aiming for promotion would benefit from honing their skills in this area. 

Specifically, they must be able to Legal aides can access various research tools and databases that provide crucial insights on case strategy, precedent analysis, and legal argumentation. They play a significant role in providing legal teams with strategic decisions based on recent developments and trends in the legal field.

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Conclusion

If you want to master the crucial competencies required to become a successful legal assistant (and start your career journey toward becoming a paralegal), I recommend enrolling in our Legal Assistant Program at Northwest Career College. This program will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to become a key figure within the legal field and ensure effective delivery of legal services. Enroll now and start your journey toward becoming a successful legal assistant!

Cassidy Wagner
Author
Dean Of Administrative Programs

A graduate of Coronado High School and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies, Cassidy found her passion in college. Having worked as a paralegal in a law firm for…Read Full Bio


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