What It Takes To Be A Paralegal or Legal Assistant

 

3Thinking about a career being a paralegal? This is one fast growing career field and you can be able to get into this field with a few years of schooling and specialized training. After training you will be able to work in a law firm where you will be doing research, interviewing witnesses, and doing summaries for the courts among other duties. It is a career that you will love. The job outlook for paralegals is growing faster than most jobs.

Training Needed

Many colleges will have classes for paralegal studies. You will learn how to conduct legal research, learn legal software and learn legal terms. You can become a paralegal with an associate degree, or you can go further in school and get a bachelor’s degree.

Job Duties

Paralegals or legal assistants will do a variety of duties they are supporting the lawyers and they will do legal research, draft documents, organize files, interview witnesses. They may have to work overtime sometimes when there is a looming deadline that has to be met.

Skills Needed

Customer service skills are needed as they will come into contact with many clients throughout their shifts. They will have to be able to multi-task as they may be working on several different cases at one time and will have to be able to stay organized and be able to file information. They have to be able to research, and have good communication skills to communicate with the clients and the other staff members.

What is a Paralegal?

A paralegal is somewhat of an Attorney’s aide. Actually, he may or may not be an attorney at all because due to the very competitive job market in the country, it’s kind of difficult to be hired as an associate so some lawyers start out as paralegals before working their way to the top. I know this because I started out as a paralegal in my old firm and being a paralegal is not an easy job. It’s not even a walk in the park. It’s like walking in hot and burning charcoal with Lego blocks on top of it.

A paralegal does all of the lawyer’s dirty work like researching, creating drafts and briefs, and doing more research. Sometimes, they are even asked to do other things like get coffee, run around from law firm to firm, and even do the laundry. When I was a paralegal, I was so close to get asked to wash the senior partner’s car. But a paralegal is not some measly assistant. They have their own duties and responsibilities, majority of which are centred on assisting lawyers do their work. In the end, they get to experience what it’s like to be an associate and it helps them learn the ropes in the office. Some of the best lawyers I know started out as paralegals and there are even judges that started out as paralegals.

Essential Tasks a Solo Attorney Can Outsource to a Virtual Legal Assistant

2Are you a solo attorney spending most of your time tending to time-consuming legal administrative tasks? Do you often leave the office exhausted only to recall you haven’t billed a single hour that day? If this sounds like you, you’ll want to continue reading. The good news is you have decided to go solo at an ideal time. With the growth of the internet, and the exploding virtual assistance industry, you can now get the support you need without incurring the costs of a full-time salaried legal assistant. There is a simple two step process, which I recommend you follow if you wish to free up more time to practice law.

First, come to the realization you cannot do it all on your own. Going solo does not have to mean working solo. Once you have reached that conclusion, hire a virtual legal assistant (VLA) to help you manage your law practice.

Legal Administrative Tasks your VLA can Handle

Now that I have your attention, I’m going to list three essential tasks a virtual legal assistant can take off of your to-do list today.

1. Time Tracking & Invoicing

If you are not keeping track of each moment you spend working on your clients’ cases, you are probably losing more money than you’d like to admit. Let a virtual legal assistant keep track of the time you spend on each case. Just email or fax your time sheets to your VLA daily. When it is time to invoice your clients, your VLA can generate your invoices and forward them to your clients for payment.

2. Digital Transcription

Have you finally realized you can get more done when you dictate your letters and pleadings? A virtual legal assistant can transcribe your digital recordings and analog tapes. Just dictate your letters, pleadings or a long list of tasks, and have your VLA transcribe your recordings and deliver them to your inbox. If you want, you can phone-in your dictation to your virtual legal assistant for prompt transcription.

3. Deposition Scheduling

Depositions are essential to most legal matters. However, scheduling depositions can be a headache when you are continuously playing phone tag with the other party. Let your VLA coordinate the deposition with you, the witness, and the other attorney. Your VLA can add the deposition to your calendar, secure a court reporter, reserve the conference room, prepare and mail the deposition notices for you.

When you decided to go solo surely you didn’t expect to carry everything on your shoulders. Delegate those time-consuming legal administrative tasks to a virtual legal assistant, and get back to practicing law. A VLA will help you increase productivity and your billable hours.