Career Development

What Does a Legal Secretary Do?

Find out what a legal secretary does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a legal secretary.

Legal secretaries are the administrative backbone of the legal profession. They handle a wide range of tasks, from basic clerical duties to more complex projects that require extensive knowledge of legal procedures and terminology.

Legal secretaries may be involved in almost every aspect of a lawyer’s practice, from initial client meetings to court appearances. They commonly take detailed notes during these meetings and conversations, which they then use to create official records of everything that happens. This includes creating and updating case files, drafting correspondence, organizing evidence and other materials related to ongoing cases, etc.

Legal Secretary Job Duties

A legal secretary typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Making sure that all documents are properly formatted according to company standards
  • Maintaining confidentiality of company information such as customer lists and trade secrets
  • Determining which legal documents will be needed for a case and researching applicable laws
  • Reviewing documents for grammar and spelling errors and formatting them according to legal standards
  • Arranging meetings between clients and lawyers or other legal professionals such as paralegals or counselors
  • Scheduling meetings, conferences, and events such as depositions or court hearings
  • Taking notes during meetings or trials using shorthand or other methods of recording verbal communication
  • Preparing files for court cases such as filing paperwork with the court, obtaining copies of records from other parties involved in the case, or obtaining transcripts of hearings
  • Preparing pleadings, motions, briefs, discovery requests, subpoenas, witness lists, exhibits, and other documents used in court proceedings

Legal Secretary Salary & Outlook

Legal secretaries’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the size of the law firm, and the geographic location of the job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $47,000 ($22.6/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of legal secretaries is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

The need to reduce costs and increase efficiency will encourage law firms to hire legal secretaries to do some of the less-specialized work currently done by lawyers. In addition, the continued growth of e-discovery—the process of identifying, collecting, and organizing electronically stored information for trial — will create jobs for legal secretaries in law firms.

Legal Secretary Job Requirements

A legal secretary typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most legal secretaries hold at least a two-year associate’s degree in legal or paralegal studies. Some employers prefer to hire legal secretaries with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies or paralegal studies.

Legal secretaries can also earn a paralegal certificate from a community college or technical school. A paralegal certificate can help a legal secretary gain employment and increase their earning potential.

Training & Experience: Legal secretaries often receive on-the-job training from their new employers. This training may include learning the specific software and computer programs the company uses, as well as the workflow and procedures of the office.

Certifications & Licenses: Obtaining a legal secretary certification is optional but highly recommended as it can demonstrate your dedication to the profession and help you stand out from other candidates.

Legal Secretary Skills

Legal secretaries need the following skills in order to be successful:

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes in information and make corrections accordingly. Legal secretaries often work with contracts, agreements and other legal documents that contain precise information. Attention to detail can help you ensure the information in these documents is accurate and consistent. This can help reduce the risk of errors and ensure the documents are legally binding.

Organization: Organization is the ability to plan and execute tasks in a logical order. As a legal secretary, you may be responsible for managing a calendar for your employer, keeping track of files and documents and managing correspondence. Organization is a valuable skill for any professional and can help you be more efficient in your work.

Communication: Legal secretaries communicate with a variety of people, including clients, other legal professionals and members of the public. Effective communication skills can help you convey information clearly and build trust with others. You may also need to communicate complex ideas and information, so it’s important to be able to do so in a way that others can understand.

Computer skills: Legal secretaries should have basic computer skills, including knowledge of word processing, spreadsheets and other computer programs. Computer skills are essential for legal secretaries as they often use computers to complete tasks, including typing documents, creating presentations and filling out forms.

Professionalism: Professionalism is the ability to act in a way that is appropriate for the situation. As a legal secretary, you should always be professional in the workplace. This means dressing appropriately, being punctual and maintaining a professional attitude.

Legal Secretary Work Environment

Legal secretaries work in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may have to work overtime to meet deadlines. Many legal secretaries work in well-lit, comfortable offices. Some may work in law libraries or courtrooms. Although most legal secretaries work regular hours, they may have to work early mornings, evenings, or weekends to complete assignments or to attend meetings.

Legal Secretary Trends

Here are three trends influencing how legal secretaries work. Legal secretaries will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Legal Tech

The legal industry is changing rapidly as more and more businesses turn to legal tech solutions to handle their legal needs. This trend is causing a shortage of legal secretaries, who are the backbone of the legal industry.

Legal secretaries can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with legal tech solutions and how they work. They can also focus on developing skills in areas such as project management and customer service. In the future, legal secretaries will need to be able to handle more complex tasks, such as managing client relationships and billing.

More Use of Technology in the Workplace

As technology becomes more prevalent in the workplace, legal secretaries will need to learn how to use it effectively.

This means that legal secretaries will need to be familiar with a variety of software programs, such as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools. They will also need to be able to use social media platforms to connect with clients and other professionals. Additionally, legal secretaries will need to be able to manage their time effectively in order to stay on top of all the tasks that come with the job.

Greater Focus on Ethics

As the legal profession becomes increasingly focused on ethics, legal secretaries will need to adapt.

Legal secretaries are in a unique position to help promote ethical behavior within their firms. By being aware of the latest trends and developments in the field, they can help to ensure that everyone is following the rules. In addition, they can provide support to attorneys and other staff members who may be struggling with ethical dilemmas.

How to Become a Legal Secretary

A legal secretary career can be a great way to get started in the legal field. As a legal secretary, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a variety of attorneys and learn about different areas of law. You’ll also gain experience working with clients and handling their cases.

As you progress in your legal secretary career, you may want to consider becoming a legal assistant or paralegal. These positions offer even more opportunities for growth and specialization.

Related: How to Write a Legal Secretary Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance in the legal field, but one of the best is to become a legal secretary. Legal secretaries are in high demand and can command high salaries. They also have the opportunity to work in a variety of legal settings, from law firms to government agencies.

As a legal secretary, you will be responsible for a variety of administrative tasks, including preparing legal documents, scheduling appointments, and maintaining files. You will also be responsible for communicating with clients and other lawyers. In some cases, you may also be responsible for researching legal issues.

With experience, you may be promoted to a position such as paralegal or law clerk. In these positions, you will have more responsibility and will be able to work more closely with lawyers. You may also be able to specialize in a particular area of law, such as family law or criminal law.

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