Legal Assistant: The History and Development of the Position


Ever since law practices began, the position of legal assistant also started to exist.  Even in the old days, legal documents had to be written up and it’s more than a lawyer could do to keep up with all that clerical type work by himself and so paralegals or legal assistants were needed.  As time passed, the job of legal assistant developed into something more than someone to do secretarial work for attorneys.  Soon, this person also became responsible of keeping the office as well as individual cases organized. 

Working under the direction of lawyers, paralegals do so much more today than ever which makes it one of the most exciting jobs you can have.

If we look at a legal assistant’s function, this doesn’t involve representation of a client nor does it involve giving legal advice.  The job of a legal assistant then is to provide support for the lawyer in his or her pursuit of justice.  With more heads working on a case, the well-being of clients is more closely protected and their interests more taken care of.  If court forms have to be filled out, it’s a legal assistant’s job to do that.  Maybe there are facts that need to be researched on in a specific case and a paralegal has to go out and gather information and do research to verify facts. 

The duties still involve secretarial work today but the only difference is that, administrative duties in the law office are also given to legal assistants.

With regard to the compensation of legal assistants, it essentially depends on the education and experience of a person.  It can also be determined by where you choose to work whether in the private of public sector. In 2019, the highest pay for a legal assistant was pretty substantial.