The Legal Assistant’s Function And Importance In The Market
“What is a legal assistant? What is a paralegal and a legal document secretary and what are the differences between all of them?” These questions are often repeated by people who are aiming to enter into the legal profession for the first time. It is very important that a person aspiring to enter the profession be able to know the differences and advantages between these very distinct career paths. The most obvious distinction between them is that legal assistants and paralegals work for one specific attorney for a long period of time by taking on some of the excess workload of the lawyer in order that these lawyers could function effectively, while a legal document secretary works whenever they are needed.
The Roles of Legal Assistants
It is important to realize that these roles within the legal profession have become increasingly important in the recent years, due to fact that practicing attorneys have to deal with an increasing amount of workload on a daily basis. The ever changing laws and the economic downturn are both causing a drastic effect on the numbers of cases reaching court, and attorneys are constantly being overloaded. Every time these lawyers see an opportunity to delegate some of their excess burden to a subordinate, they are able to free much of their time so that they could spend it on matters that will require much of their hard-earned skills and will directly affect their clients. However, that these Legal assistants are able to take on any work but are not authorized on giving advice to a client or representing them in court, as this would be an unauthorized practicing of the law.
Much of the works carried out by legal assistants are administrative in nature and for this reason, most of the people who are attracted to this career come from administrative backgrounds. There are many paralegals and legal assistants who were previously involved with the corporate sector and some even come from non-profitable organizations like schools and charities and some even have worked in government offices. These people have the advantage as they already what is a legal assistant required to do because they are already familiar with office work. An administrative background, however, is not necessary for becoming a legal assistant provided that aspiring legal assistant are prepared to train for their new career.
Legal Assistant Training
You may be wondering what is a legal assistant prepared to work for, and you may be in for quite a surprise. In the United States at least, a legal assistant is a highly lucrative career. It is certainly well-paid enough that it attracts numerous individuals who are aspiring paralegals to college campuses and online training courses just to acquire the necessary qualifications which will give them an edge over the competition and keep them in the profession for a long time. Although there are many people who have the desire to enter into the legal profession as paralegals, there only a small percentage of applicants who stand out from the crowd armed with the qualifications and certification.
Anyone who is serious in becoming a paralegal would greatly benefit from entering to a two year training course and gaining the necessary qualifications. This can be done at a college campus, including many of the ones which specialize in training lawyers. It can also be done through home study using the numerous online programs found in the Internet, and this is now the most popular method. It is easy to see why, as most people who desire to become paralegals are mature students who have other pressing priorities to attend to like a family or an existing job.
Shedding Light on the Blur
The confusion surrounding as to what is a legal assistant and what is a paralegal or legal document secretary may be clarified in the near future. Several states are considering extending the licensure examination which covers, as of now, attorneys to everyone working in the legal system, even these three roles. This has come about following a string of reports of which paralegals are giving out advice so that clients could manage their own cases which is a direct violation of the law and an abuse of the attorney’s trust in the legal assistant.
If this licensing is ever realized, it would be designed to root out erring paralegals and have them removed from the service and it will be relatively easily so as not to deter any aspiring and honest paralegal from the profession. However, those who attained the necessary qualifications and certification would find the entire process easier to go through and cope with. The licensing then could finally define the roles of those working under the legal system more clearly, especially as to what is a legal assistant supposed to do in comparison with the roles of paralegals and legal document secretaries.
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