The short answer is—it depends on the position. Although no law firm could function without at least one skilled attorney with a law degree, having reliable support staff consisting of paralegals, office managers and case analysts allows attorneys to focus on their cases instead of being spread too thin and not being able to give their clients the attention they deserve.
If you’re interested in a legal career, but you don’t necessarily aspire to be an attorney, there are several other career paths available to you that don’t require a law degree (although you’ll likely need a college degree in a related field).
As a paralegal, you’re the right hand of the attorneys you work with. You help attorneys stay organized and keep their case load running smoothly. Paralegals work under the supervision of attorneys and assist with a variety of legal tasks, including:
- Conducting research: Paralegals research various legal issues and help attorneys prepare cases for trial or other legal proceedings.
- Drafting legal documents: Paralegals draft legal documents, such as discovery and settlement agreements.
- Assisting with case management: This may include organizing case files, scheduling hearings and communicating with clients and other parties involved in a case.
- Performing administrative tasks: Answering phone calls, scheduling appointments and maintaining office records.
- Providing litigation support: Paralegals may assist attorneys in preparing for trial, including organizing exhibits, conducting witness interviews and drafting trial briefs.
You don’t need a law degree to become a paralegal; however, a minimum of an associate’s degree in paralegal studies is typically required. If you’ve already earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a different field, investing in a paralegal certificate can provide you with the specialized knowledge you need to work in this field.
The role of a case analyst is similar to that of a paralegal, but there are some key differences between the two.
A case analyst specializes in analyzing legal documents and information related to a case. Case analysts assist attorneys by helping to manage case files, analyze legal documents, summarize depositions and witness statements and provide litigation support. Like paralegals, case analysts work under the supervision of attorneys, but their work is focused on analyzing and interpreting legal information rather than performing a broad range of legal tasks like answering phone calls or organizing files.
Another difference between paralegals and case analysts is the educational and professional backgrounds required for each role. Paralegals typically have completed a formal paralegal education program, such as an associate’s degree or a certificate program in paralegal studies. Case analysts will typically need to have earned a bachelor’s degree in a field somewhat related to law, such as business, criminal justice or philosophy. An ideal candidate for the job may also need to possess additional experience or education in a specific area of law, such as intellectual property.
As the name implies, a legal writer specializes in writing different kinds of legal documents like lawsuits, briefs and demand letters. These positions aren’t limited to law firms. In fact, someone looking to become a legal writer can find work in a variety of legal settings, including government agencies, specialized media organizations and legal publications.
A typical work day in the life of a legal writer may consist of:
- Writing legal documents: Legal writers craft a variety of legal documents, including contracts, legal memoranda, pleadings and briefs.
- Conducting legal research: A well written legal document requires plenty of legal research.
- Analyzing and interpreting legal information: This includes statutes, regulations and precedent, to ensure the accuracy and validity of their writing.
- Editing and revising legal documents: Legal writers review and edit their own work, as well as the work of others to ensure that legal documents are clear, concise and free from errors.
- Writing legal articles and publications: Legal writers may also write legal articles and publications for law journals, legal websites and other legal publications.
- Legal writers are usually required to hold a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, journalism or a related field.
Front Desk Coordinator
A front desk coordinator at a law firm is frequently the face of the office and the first person to interact with clients upon their arrival.
Front desk coordinators typically engage in a plethora of administrative tasks, including greeting visitors, answering phones, scheduling appointments, ordering office supplies and managing the flow of traffic in and out of the office.
Although they’re not attorneys, front desk coordinators must possess strong communication and customer service skills. They’re usually the primary point of contact for clients and must be able to handle inquiries and resolve issues in a professional and courteous manner.
Many employers prefer front desk coordinators to have a college degree; however, high school graduates with good communication, organization skills and relevant experience can also be valid candidates for the role.
Explore Legal Career Opportunities at a Personal Injury Law Firm in Atlanta
Does being a valued member of a busy personal injury law firm sound appealing to you? Whether you’re a personal injury attorney with a law degree or are simply someone interested in helping us achieve successful outcomes for our clients, we may have the right position for you.
At the Dressie Law Firm, we’re always looking for talented, passionate and ambitious individuals to contribute to the collective success of our firm.