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Entering into your first legal role? Here's what to expect

Entering into your first legal role? Here's what to expect

Student Verdict


Reading time: two minutes

Starting your first legal role can be quite daunting. Well, don’t fear! I’m here to ease those thoughts and to help you understand the role of a legal assistant or paralegal. 

Role responsibilities

As a paralegal or legal assistant, you’ll often work with one or two fee earners. A fee earner is a solicitor, associate, senior associate or partner. Each of these roles earns fees from the work that they do and handles their own caseload, hence the name fee earner. 

If you’re completely new to the profession, and have no experience in the area of law you’ll be working in, do a little research before you begin. This’ll help you understand the key terminology that’ll be used day-to-day in the office (this took me some time to get to grips with but, don’t worry, you’ll be able to figure this out). 

As you assist the fee earner, they’ll send you work via dictations or over emails. The work can vary quite dramatically, but includes:

  • drafting letters or emails to different parties in a case;
  • sending emails, letters or bundles to a party;
  • drafting invoices to clients;
  • arranging meetings with clients via applications such as Teams, Zoom, in person or telephone appointments;
  • diarising court orders, networking events and meetings;
  • collating documents; 
  • telephoning the clients, court or counsel; and
  • booking counsel and gaining fee estimates.

This is just a short list of what to expect when you walk into your first legal role. On top of your weekly tasks, there’s also a range of other work, which comes in on a more ad-hoc basis. As you get more familiar with the varied work, you’ll become more efficient, so don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed at the beginning!

What to wear

If you’re concerned about what to wear to your first role, the initial advice is to go suited and booted. It’s much better to be overdressed than underdressed at a law firm, especially if the law firm is client facing. After a week or two, you’ll be able to base your outfits on what other people within the firm are wearing and ensure that you’re meeting the status quo.

Believe in yourself

Most of all, be yourself and enter into the legal profession with an open mind. It’s daunting, but you’ve made it! Once you secure your first job, develop with an open mind and take each hurdle as a development opportunity!