The career in the legal field goes well beyond just attorneys. There are many careers paths, from legal assistants or paralegals, legal secretaries to court reporters.
One of the appeals of the legal field is the sheer variety of specializations. An attorney’s day-to-day responsibilities can look very different if they work in family, torte, or real estate law.
Career Progression in the Legal Field
While there are a great variety of roles in the legal field, these careers don’t operate or function independently. Many legal secretaries move on to be paralegals, many paralegals go on to pursue a career as an attorney, and attorneys sometimes progress to a judgeship.
Paralegal jobs in Alberta
Paralegals are the frontline for affordable legal assistance. They help create equal access to legal aid. With many clients seeking out less costly alternatives for legal services, demand for good paralegals in Alberta continues to grow.
Paralegals can offer limited services (as defined by the law) and work under the supervision of an attorney. They often draft documents and work through many legal procedures that would otherwise be the responsibility of an attorney. The responsibilities of a paralegal are dependant on the specialty of the law firm in which they are employed. For instance, a paralegal specializing in family law would have very different responsibilities than a paralegal who specializes in real estate.
Paralegal Job Description
Good paralegals are highly organized and understand the importance of deadlines. They must have strong communication skills, be highly trustworthy, discreet and use good judgement.
How to Become a Paralegal in Alberta
At this time, paralegals in Alberta are not regulated. Paralegals in Alberta don’t need to pass any examination or meet any education standards to be able to work. In Alberta, an aspiring paralegal can get on-the-job training or pursue post-secondary education in legal studies.
That being said, most law offices prefer applicants who have paralegal certificates, paralegal diplomas, or a paralegal degree.
What the difference between a Legal Secretary and a Paralegal
Although these two roles are sometimes used interchangeably, the responsibilities and requirements are very distinct from one and other. The key difference between the roles is responsibilities: paralegals work through tasks that would otherwise be the responsibility of an attorney. This work requires a depth of understanding and legal knowledge.
Legal secretaries, while essential to the legal profession, do not generally deal with work that is of substantive legal nature. Some potential responsibilities for this role are office administrative tasks for the legal department, calendar management, or taking meeting notes.
Legal Secretary Job Description
A legal secretary is an administrative assistant trained in the field of law. While formal training is considered an asset, many legal secretaries have on-the-job experience. Candidates must have computer skills, be organized and precise, and be able to navigate complex legal and billing topics.