In its most general sense, the practice of law involves giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents for clients, and representing clients in legal negotiations and court proceedings such as lawsuits, and is applied to the professional services of a lawyer or attorney at law, barrister, solicitor, or civil law notary. However, there is a substantial amount of overlap between the practice of law and various other professions where clients are represented by agents. These professions include real estate, banking, accounting, and insurance. Moreover, a growing number of legal document assistants (LDAs) are offering services which have traditionally been offered only by lawyers and their employee paralegals. Many documents may now be created by computer-assisted drafting libraries, where the clients are asked a series of questions posed by the software in order to construct the legal documents.
The Legal Service provides comprehensive in-house assistance to the European Commission and all its departments. Its resources have to be deployed to cover all Commission activities and areas of responsibility. In each area, it must be able to assist the Commission in its functions of drafting legislation and conducting international negotiations, as guardian of the treaties and in the exercise of the implementing powers conferred on it by the Community legislator or by the Treaties.
The service is responsible for ensuring all proposals made have a legal basis, if it finds a technical fault in any proposal then the proposal must be modified or dropped. The legal service may only be overruled by the College of Commissionners. As the service is under the President's remit, some argue it can be useful in allowing the President a way of sinking undesirable proposals from his colleagues as there is usually some technicality the service can raise - although they have been challenged in the European Court of Justice with some minimal success.