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A Legal Office Assistant’s Guide to Civil Litigation

2014-10-01 by Mark Harrington

Legal Office AssistantCivil litigation is the term used for a legal battle between two parties who are usually seeking money damages as opposed to imprisonment or criminal sanctions. If you are taking a police foundations course to become a court officer, you will see your fair share of civil litigation cases. There are law firms which specialize specifically in civil litigation or civil law. Working as a legal assistant in a civil law firm, you will take on many duties assigned to you by either a lawyer or a paralegal, much of which will involve organizing case files and information.

Here are some of the many types of civil litigation:

  • Landlord/tenant
  • Employment and labour
  • Environmental law
  • Medical malpractice
  • Intellectual property and copyright
  • Construction
  • Worker’s compensation

Legal office assistant trainingLegal Office Assistant Duties in a Firm

The main duty of a legal office assistant (also called a litigation secretary) is to support the lawyers and paralegals in a firm. Their role is mostly in administration, performing duties like formatting briefs, pleadings and other legal documents, keeping track of attorney billings, filing legal documents (either in hard copy or electronically),corresponding with clients and transcribing documents. If you have the proper skills in legal office administration training, you may also be hired to help with certain legal duties such as minor research and writing. It is important to note that as a legal assistant you are not permitted to give legal advice.

Scheduling is a very important task for office assistants. In a litigation firm, they must manage the calendar and mark deadlines and important dates like hearings, settlement conferences, and pleading due dates. An office assistant must also be sure that there are no conflicts in an attorney’s schedule. There are also some post-trial duties which must be completed by the assistant, which include filing the post-trial motion alleging any errors in the trial. These documents must be filed under a set deadline and be distributed to all concerned parties. A notice of appeal must also be filed within 30 days of the trial, with a transcript of the trial included.

Skills Required

As stated before, the legal office assistant performs many secretarial duties. Although some tasks for an office assistant are similar to a paralegal, the two careers require a different skill set. Much of your work as a legal office assistant will be using word processing software to prepare briefs and other lengthy documents. For this reason, it is important to have adequate typing skills and a good knowledge of computers. Legal office assistant training will provide you with the necessary technical skills for this job, which include proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and file management software. Some examples of widely used file management software include Legal Files, Abacus Law and Bleu Acre. Most importantly in secretarial positions, you must have an eye for detail, as spelling errors and improper documentation affects a firm’s reputation.


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