One cannot assume whole responsibility on himself, no matter how professional he claims to be. A person cannot handle, or rather in other words, it is impossible for a person to pay attention to every aspect of the matter at hand. Hence assistance is required at every stage. Assistance may be provided by juniors generally, but may also be provided by peers, colleagues sometimes.
Moving on the legal field, the same rule is applicable to lawyers also. Lawyers necessarily require an assistant. Not even one lawyer is without an assistant. The basic task of these persons is to aid the lawyers in briefing, drafting etc. Nowadays it has become a prestige issue not to have a legal assistant.
The legal assistant is also sometimes called as a legal researcher as he also undertakes the research for the drafting, searches case laws, and relevant material for briefing. It is rightly said that today, it is the legal assistant who does the actual job, comprising of all the paper work and research and the only job of the lawyer is to conduct meetings with the client and discuss the progress of the matter for further directions.
He performs the support tasks for the lawyer, of supervising the work. A legal assistant cannot give legal advice nor can sign any contract, but can draft contracts and help the lawyer. There is no specific qualification for the post of a legal researcher, however it is obviously necessary for the person applying that he should have a legal background and has knowledge of basic laws and how the lawyers work, otherwise, he may end up causing more trouble than helping the lawyer.
As a legal assistant, a person is also required and expected to perform certain secretarial functions and thus it is expected that he knows how to handle responsibility as often the stakes are high in cases and one slip and inaccuracy may lead to irreparable losses. These legal assistants are more formally known as paralegals. With the increase in litigation, law firms etc., the job opportunities for the paralegals have increased manifestly and now not only lawyers, but even law firms are hiring paralegals to supplement the supervising job of lawyers.
Legal assistants are taught and groomed to supervise and take responsibility of work delegated to them. Initially there were only law schools teaching students interested in studying law, but now there are proper colleges and schools which undertake to teach paralegal studies and make efficient legal assistants as their products.
The colleges and schools are proficient both in teaching online courses and virtual teaching. The courses offered are divided into according to career plans of the students based on varied special courses in the field of legal assistance, court reporting and paralegal itself. The difference lies only in the practical application of the three and not in theory. The courses offered are degree courses, diplomas and certificate courses. If one wants to enter the legal field as a legal assistant, it is important that such type of education be undertaken first and then excels with abilities.