Legal Assistants of Louisville is a professional association for those who work to support the Louisville legal community. But what roles or positions, other than legal secretaries and paralegals, are there in legal support?
In a solo law practice, the legal secretary may play the only role in legal support. But within the legal community, there are many roles and positions in addition to secretaries and paralegals. However, unless you work within the community, you may not know these positions exist. In this post I’d like to give you a brief tour of the legal services community.
Of course, there are attorneys. Some are solo practitioners, some are partners and some are associates working in law firms and some are in-house attorneys working for corporations. Attorneys practice a wide variety of law.
Attorneys are most closely assisted by legal secretaries and paralegals who will provide support for the attorneys as needed.
Law firms will have office managers or practice administrators to oversee the day-to-day operation and finances of the firm. These roles may be supported by administrative assistants, HR personnel and/or accounting/billing clerks. A receptionist will greet clients and guests and court messengers or runners will physically get documents, people and other necessities to/from one place to another. Some firms employ file clerks to open, maintain, close and archive the case files. Many firms fill positions for other types of litigation support such as scanning and document management.
Like all businesses, law firms now run on technology, and some firms employ IT specialists while others outsource these positions from local vendors. Either way, confidentiality and an understanding of the culture of the legal industry is necessary for these positions.
Lawsuits are filed in court. Courts all work as a part of the legal community.
Legal positions exist in both state and federal governments. An official court reporter often serves a dual role in state court by recording and preserving the official court record for hearings and trials as well as maintaining the court’s calendar, drafting and preparing orders and other documents. Court clerks record the intake of legal documents, maintain the court’s files and notify the parties of court dates. The court’s bailiff may attend hearings and trials and maintains the jury process and court decorum. And again, IT specialists trained on the electronic filing systems of federal and/or state courts are roles within the legal community that at one time did not exist.
Courts are run by judges and magistrates. These are both positions normally filled by a licensed practicing attorney, either by election or appointment. Many court cases are ordered to mediation in hopes they can be settled. Therefore, the role of mediator is a role that is far more in demand now than it once was.
Other Government Agencies
Most state and county elected officials oversee government offices that are a part of the legal community; assessors, treasurer, recorders, etc. Each of these offices will need administative assistants. Prosecutors, public defenders, probabion officers, paralegals and secretary/clerks are roles found in governmental criminal law offices.
Other roles in the legal community are found in services mostly outsourced by lawyers and firms.
Court reporters, are independent and impartial persons who take down verbatim sworn testimony, either by stenography or digital recording, and make a transcript for the record.
Legal videographers may record testimony such as a witness’ deposition or they may provide a day-in-the-life type video for demonstrative purposes.
Jury consultants assist an attorney with jury selection.
Document services providers copy, scan and digitize large-volume documents. These vendors will also assist with visual aids and trial presentation.
Experts provide analysis of evidence and testimony. Some common expert roles whose opinions are sought after include computer forensics specialists, medical specialists, and accident reconstuctionists.
This post is just a sketch of the legal community, but I hope it helps you see how many roles/positions/people make up the legal industry. If you are thinking you would like to work in the legal industry, please look through a broader scope than the scope that only sees attorney/legal secretary/paralegal positions.
And if you are working within the legal community and would like to join our association, please contact Legal Assistants of Louisville.