Friday, December 09, 2016

5 Things I have Learned as a Legal Assistant


Between finishing school, to being a Law Clerk Co-op Student, to now being a full-time employee at
Wise Law Office I have learned a multitude of tips that will help me as my career continues.

Here are 5 important tips that have helped me as a Legal Assistant.

1. Always Meet Deadlines By Planning Ahead

Meeting deadlines are a big part of being a Law Clerk. Deadlines in the legal field are very strict.  If you do not meet those due dates you and your client may be penalized. A few tips for organizing your deadlines and making sure you meet them are:
  • Have a calendar and schedule in the due dates, reminders, and time to complete the tasks
  • Have a check list on your desk or on your computer, it will feel good when you cross the task off the list
  • Always check your to-do list or schedule way ahead of time, so that you are not rushing to get everything done on time
2. Interact with Clients on a Friendly Basis

Law Clerks and Legal Assistants have a lot of communication with the clients. You must be aware of the different personalities and different situations that can arise when you have these interactions.

Get to know your clients on a personal, but always professional level. Establish a good rapport.

The friendlier you are towards your clients, the more comfortable and responsive they will be.  That will always help them to help you and your firm build the strongest case possible.

3. Follow Up with Opposing Counsel

If you are expecting a document or response from an opposing counsel, make sure you always follow up when a specific amount of time has lapsed without the expected answer.

Remember, your client is counting on you and your firm to receive these documents and responses. Don't let deadlines pass without immediate follow-ups to the party you've been waiting on.

Be persistent.  And if you feel like you are annoying an opposing counsel who is late or not meeting set timelines, worry not.

You aren't being annoying! You are doing your job correctly.

4. Ask Early for Documents From Clients

After a client has officially retained your firm, your first step will often be to gather and organize as much key documentation as you can obtain from your client.

The earlier you get the required documentation, the better position you will be in when it comes to preparing an Affidavit of Documents, Documents Brief or Claim.

Ask early for all necessary documents, and you will always have the documents in time for deadlines ahead.

5. Update Your Clients Often

Updating clients in a very important part of our job. Keep this in mind:
  • The more regularly a client is informed on what is happening in his or her case, the happier the client is rightfully going to be. 
  • Ensure clients receive copies of all letters, emails and other communications received and prepared by your office in relation to the client's file or matter.
  • Many of our clients will be new to legal matters, and they will truly benefit from explanations that give them plenty of notice as well as an in-depth explanation as to what is going to happen next and when.
Good things happen when legal assistants, law clerks and lawyers work together to ensure our clients are informed on where their cases stand - and where their cases are heading.

Help keep clients in the loop and good results will follow.

- Lara Friedman, Legal Assistant, Toronto

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