What comes to mind when you think of a legal assistant? Do you think of someone who is aspiring to be a lawyer but is working to pay his or her dues? Do you think of someone who does mounds of research?
I originally became interested in being a legal assistant because I needed a job, and the movies often portray the legal world as exciting. I have discovered that individuals become legal assistants for various reasons. Some aspire to become lawyers. Others find legal research intriguing. Some believe God has placed them in a position to influence lives in unexpected ways.
Like many professions, the job description of a legal assistant can vary. My duties depend on the specific practice area of the attorney I am assisting.
I have come to discover that God has placed me in my position to impact many lives in unforeseen ways. I have also learned that being a legal assistant is completely different from my initial thoughts of legal grandeur and movie portrayals.
I type correspondence, draft court documents such as legal complaints and court orders and help schedule tasks for my attorney. Depending on the attorney, I may also have client contact. Client contact involves asking questions to help the attorney obtain needed information. This often allows me to meet and work with individuals who are experiencing some of the most difficult times in life.
While you may not see that your job matters to God, He is always working and using each of us in areas we may least expect.
I am often asked to prepare documents, research statutes and case law, and investigate the facts of a case. I also help the attorney manage details and analyze data that supports or defends the client’s case. Because of the importance of the matters and the impacts of those matters on the lives of clients, I am sometimes required to handle stressful situations and help comfort clients. This allows me to extend kindness and encourage individuals when things may seem at their worst.
Such opportunities have made it possible for me to lean on my faith and grow in my faith. When I do not have the right answers to encourage a client, I can share wisdom from the Scriptures. I can explain that justice and grace can co-exist. There may be situations in which justice is warranted and achieved, but lawyers and legal assistants can also help clients receive mercy and grace from the judge by advocating for a lesser sentence. I can help individuals see things globally. While I cannot give legal advice, when a Christian asks, I can encourage them to view situations from God’s eyes. This may involve attempting to salvage a marriage prior to pushing for a divorce or seeking the best interests of the children and others before seeking their own interests in a lawsuit. This is particularly helpful when individuals want to reach a legal agreement and all their legal needs are met with only slight particulars left to consider.
Not only does the Bible help inform the decisions for my job as a legal assistant, but my job has also strengthened my biblical convictions. My job has helped me to understand why God hates divorce. As Malachi says, “‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Malachi 2:16a). In context, the prophet is speaking of protecting the wife of a husband’s youth and the need for godly offspring. In divorce situations, I often see everything except protection of the needs of children or a spouse, and it often ends up bitter and hateful. My job has also shown me that alcohol and drugs tend to damage families and destroy lives. This reaffirms Scripture’s view of these substances as well. When you see people in such difficult legal situations, you see that God’s plans for the family, self-governance and overall spiritual health are true.
Through the development of client relationships and the continual development of my biblical understanding, I have seen some marriages restored, I have witnessed parties agreeing to settle lawsuits without the need for Court, I have comforted the hurting and I have even had to talk someone out of suicide. I believe God put me in my position for those exact people and for such an exact time. When I have spoken words of love, unity and comfort, I have been able to glorify and honor God. I hope clients could feel God’s love and mercy as I have been his hands and feet.
I have also been used by God to bring justice in certain situations as we have helped to get children out of abusive situations while causing the perpetrators to be brought before the Court. Such actions also glorify God by allowing individuals to know God is a just God, and He is faithful in His care of the downtrodden, the young and the needy.
When I started my job as a legal assistant, I had no idea that my work would matter to God. To me, it was a job and a paycheck. However, as I have learned and grown in my position, I have seen God working to help me gain stronger convictions based on His Word, to encourage the hurting, to help the wounded and to restore broken things. While you may not see that your job matters to God, He is always working and using each of us in areas we may least expect. He wants us to bring light to areas of darkness, so He places us in “secular” jobs where trust can be established and where we can reach others for Christ when they least expect to receive it. As a result, I encourage you to “…work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24).