I have sometimes been asked what exactly it is that I do as a legal assistant. A legal assistant’s job is to assist her boss, the attorney, in any way that he or she can in order to help them work up a client’s case and see it through to a successful conclusion. We are often asked to assist with preparation of correspondence or court documents. Scheduling is also a big part of our job duties—such as scheduling depositions, mediations, hearings, or expert witnesses to testify at trial. Some legal assistants also make all of the travel arrangements for their attorney when he or she is scheduled to be out of town for a trial, depositions, etc.
As a personal injury legal assistant, one of my main duties is to contact the client to monitor their injury treatment and status, and then to request all of the necessary medical records and medical bills corresponding with that treatment. Once those records and bills are obtained, we then keep them organized and make sure that a copy is forwarded on to the insurance adjuster, or defense attorney, assigned to our client’s claim. These are just a few of the things that we are asked to do by the attorney we work for, but our job duties can really be anything that will help him or her successfully settle the client’s claim.
Having good organizational, typing and communications skills is a plus, however, I think one of the greatest assets you can have as a legal assistant is to be a good listener. Many times our clients are frustrated, upset, or confused after they have been injured in an accident. They may feel as if they have been treated unfairly by an adjuster, or just confused about the whole legal process. They may also be in pain, and may not understand why it is taking them so long to heal, or they could be experiencing a financial hardship because they are unable to return to work. Sometimes all they really need is someone to talk to who will listen to their problems and reassure them. I always try to take the time to really listen and get to know the clients and understand their concerns, because in the end, if I were in their shoes, I would want someone to do the same for me.