Legal Secretaries and Assistants
While Legal Assistants and Legal Secretaries share some common duties, there are key differences in the two positions. Secretaries and assistants often work under the supervision of a licensed attorney and are subject to laws and regulations in the industry, such as the discretion between an attorney and their clients.
A legal assistant is a legal professional who assists licensed attorneys with different procedures, paperwork, and other duties. Legal assistants typically perform research and administrative duties so an attorney can focus on a particular case. For example, if a case is complex and requires research into other similar cases, an attorney might ask their legal assistant to gather required documents and conduct research. The legal assistant might then compile pertinent information for the attorney and deliver it within an appropriate time frame.
A legal secretary is a licensed professional who performs clerical and administrative duties in a law office or firm under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Legal secretaries are similar to legal assistants but often perform more clerical duties to ensure organization and efficient processes in law offices.
To be a legal assistant, it’s important to have such skills as document drafting, case preparation, understanding of laws and legal procedures, patience, organization, communications, and research skills. Legal secretaries should be good at communication, organization, and time management, have software skills, pay attention to detail, and be discrete.
Legal assistants organize and draft legal paperwork, perform legal research and report findings, assist attorneys with open cases by conversing or offering suggestions, and communicate with clients and update them on court cases or findings. They also verify case costs and balances with clients and attorneys and prepare case materials such as paperwork, evidence, and other important items.
A legal secretary organizes important legal paperwork, drafts legal documents, files and backs up legal documents in company software programs, conducts phone calls and takes messages, communicates between clients and attorneys and maintains calendars and schedules meetings or court dates. In addition, they transcribe court meetings or other documentation.
Legal secretaries and legal assistants often possess extensive training in the law industry. However, one of the key differences between a legal secretary and a legal assistant is that secretaries typically don't require formal education to work in a law office. Legal assistants often complete paralegal programs.