What is a Legal Assistant?
Legal assistants work under the supervision of attorneys and are bound by the professional ethical conduct requirements for attorneys as prescribed by the California Bar Association. Legal assistants help prepare the documents needed in legal matters being heard in courts and administrative hearings. They draft memos, letters, and official documents based on research. Research methods may include interviewing people, library, and computer work.
The legal assistant frequently acts as an important contact between their supervising attorney and the client and so must enjoy working with a wide variety of people and interests. They must also enjoy keeping up with a rapidly changing professional environment. Legal assistants do not give legal advice. Only a licensed attorney may give legal advice to clients.
Legal assistants undertake a broad range of responsibilities, including:
- drafting pleadings, legal memoranda, agreements and correspondence
- managing case documents with the use of computers
- preparing and responding to discovery requests
- indexing and summarizing depositions
- conducting research and investigations
- interviewing witnesses and clients
- drafting corporate documents and minutes
- assisting in trial preparation
- preparing inventories and accountings for probate
Legal assistants may specialize in a variety of practice areas, such as:
- Criminal prosecution and defense
- Employee benefits
- Family law
- Intellectual property
- Probate and estate planning
- Real property
- Securities and municipal bonds
- Workers' compensation
(See also Career Opportunities)