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What Does a Legal Trainee Do?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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A legal trainee assists one or more attorneys in various office duties. Some trainee positions require individuals to interview clients, investigate cases and prepare written documentation. In some instances a legal trainee is required to have a degree in law, but some employers may hire students and others working in a legal career who have not met the basic education or licensing requirements to practice law.

Working in law offices offers trainees the opportunity to gain an inside perspective on what it takes to have a career in law. A legal trainee generally works as supportive staff for one or more attorneys. In this capacity, a trainee is required to perform a variety of tasks including making telephone calls, filing paperwork, drafting letters and conducting research. Trainees working in such positions have the opportunity to work in a legal environment while learning the various functions of an attorney, a paralegal, a private investigator and others in legal positions.

The specific duties of a legal trainee will vary according to the employer one works for and the laws governing the jurisdiction where the trainee works. In many instances, however, trainees help interview clients, investigate the details of a case, draft legal briefings and assure that subpoenas are delivered in a timely fashion. A legal trainee capable of doing so may also be relied upon to assure that certain contract standards are met and that budgets are adhered to.

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Working as a legal trainee is a career planning strategy commonly taken by individuals interested in becoming practicing attorneys. Some law schools offer trainee job placement as a way to help students gain experience. It is also not unusual for some to volunteer for unpaid legal trainee positions with law firms as a career advancement strategy.

The qualifications to become a legal trainee may also vary. Many law firms prefer to work with students who are currently enrolled in law school or who have just recently completed a law degree. Some trainees, however, are able to work for attorneys without a degree particularly if they have valuable experience working in another corporate position or profession. For almost all trainee positions a person must be very detail oriented, well-organized, reliable and able to work well with others. Good written and verbal communication skills, as well as the ability to efficiently handle multiple tasks at once are also useful skills for those seeking access to trainee positions.

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