What is a Legal Assistant?

January 31st, 2023

A legal assistant, also known as a legal administrative assistant, contributes to the success of law firms. Legal assistants organize and schedule interviews with witnesses and clients, draft legal documents, organize case files, and collect pieces of evidence. Hence, a legal assistant reduces the administrative work of lawyers or other legal professionals, so they can spend more time on billable tasks.

legal assistant working with lawyers As a legal administrative assistant, you may work for a law firm, a paralegal, or a lawyer. You may also specialize in a particular area of law such as corporate law or litigation.

Difference Between Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Although both legal assistants and paralegals share many similarities, they also have significant differences. By looking at their roles, responsibilities, and career potential, you can see how legal assistants and paralegals work with and assist lawyers, other legal professionals, and their clients in many different ways.

Job Role

Legal Assistant

Legal assistants focus on administrative tasks in the legal field. They usually work in legal firms by assisting lawyers with clerical work and gathering case-based information for trials and hearings. They also provide customer service to the clients.


A paralegal primarily supports lawyers in preparing legal documents and performing research. A paralegal can draft real estate transactions, court reports, and affidavits under the supervision of a lawyer.

legal assistant working on legal documents A legal assistant usually assists lawyers with clerical tasks and collects case-related information for trials and hearings. Legal assistants play a crucial role in legal proceedings by preparing and proofreading legal correspondence and documents.


Legal Assistant 

  • General administrative support for lawyers such as filing, typing, and taking phone calls
  • Plan and set up interviews and meetings with clients or witnesses
  • Prepare and proofread legal correspondence and documents
  • Resolve billing issues and prepare invoices
  • Gather and organize evidence, legal documents, and case files for lawyers to review


  • Take notes during legal proceedings with lawyers
  • Prepare summaries of testimonies, depositions, and interrogations
  • Conduct legal research such as gathering facts and information to support the case
  • Consult with clients and witnesses for more information
  • Prepare legal documents, pleadings, and correspondence

legal assistant speaking with a lawyer A legal assistant gives administrative support to lawyers and other legal professionals.

Career Opportunities

Legal Assistant

A legal administrative assistant can work for law firms, paralegals, lawyers, legal departments of corporations, or government agencies. Legal assistants can also pursue a specialization in different areas of law such as corporate law or litigation, but additional education may be required.


Paralegals can work in law firms or legal departments in the public and private sectors. They can also be self-employed and work as an independent provider of legal services.

Legal Assistant Salary

chart with Legal Assistant Salary for Ontario

The legal assistant salary can vary depending on the level of experience and job location. (Source: Job Bank)

According to Job Bank, legal assistants usually earn between $16/hour and $35.79/hour in Ontario. This means that a legal assistant’s salary in Ontario can vary from about $33,000 to upwards of $74,000 per year. The median yearly salary in Ontario is approximately $48,000. The legal assistant salary changes depending on the experience level and employment location.

How to Be a Legal Assistant

Although a college-level legal assistant diploma isn’t mandatory to become a legal assistant in Ontario, most employers require it. A legal assistant diploma will make you more attractive to employers and help you boost your legal career.

If you wish to pursue a career as a legal assistant, enrolling in triOS College’s Legal Assistant diploma program will give you the skills and knowledge you need to start a successful career in the legal field and become an efficient legal assistant. Gain a thorough comprehension of legal terminologies and procedures plus a fundamental understanding of legal research within the Canadian legal system. triOS College’s Legal Assistant diploma program will teach you the various aspects of business, family, corporate, and real estate law. Plus, you will develop effective interpersonal communication skills, which are vital for success. If you have organizational, research, and team-playing skills, you will excel in a career as a legal assistant.

“A legal assistant is a professional providing administrative assistance and support within the law office and legal environment.” – Josephine Casey, Law Clerk Instructor and Faculty Head at triOS College

According to Josephine Casey, Law Clerk Instructor and Faculty Head at triOS College, having strong organizational skills, great work ethic, computer skills, and the ability to work well independently and as a team are all good traits and competencies to have as a legal assistant.

Get started towards a rewarding career in the legal field with triOS College’s Legal Assistant diploma program.