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A Legal Secretary assists lawyers and helps them to prepare and arrange legal documents. They are trained and highly knowledgeable in legal processes and the documentation of legal cases, and they have an important function in the day-to-day life of a lawyer's office.

They have a wide range of responsibilities, from answering phones, scheduling appointments, and taking messages to preparing presentations, proofreading pleas and briefs, and preparing drafts for correspondence. They manage the documentation of legal cases, as well. They work in close contact with the attorneys, clients, witnesses, and courtroom staff.

To be a successful legal secretary, you need to be organized and constantly on your toes. You need to be able to multitask and perform under pressure, coordinating the execution of various tasks simultaneously. Being assertive and energetic is a must but, as you will interact with many different kinds of people, patience and understanding are essential qualities for you as well.

What Does a Legal Secretary Do

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.

Learn more about what a Legal Secretary does

How To Become a Legal Secretary

High school graduates who have experience using computer software applications, such as word processing and spreadsheets, usually qualify for entry-level positions. Although most secretaries learn their job in several weeks, many legal and medical secretaries require additional training to learn industry-specific terminology. Executive secretaries usually need several years of related work experience.

Education

High school graduates can take courses in word processing and office procedures at technical schools or community colleges. Some temporary placement agencies also provide training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.

Some medical and legal secretaries learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending courses offered at community colleges or technical schools. For executive secretary positions, employers increasingly prefer to hire those who have taken some college courses or have a bachelor’s degree.

Training

Secretaries and administrative assistants typically learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks. During this time they learn about administrative procedures, including how to prepare documents. Medical and legal secretaries’ training may last several months as they learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Executive secretaries can gain experience by working in administrative positions that have less challenging responsibilities. Many secretaries and administrative assistants advance to higher level administrative positions.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification can demonstrate competency to employers.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification. Candidates must have a minimum of 2 to 4 years of administrative work experience, depending on their level of education, and pass an examination.

Legal secretaries have several certification options. For example, those with 1 year of general office experience, or who have completed an approved training course, can acquire the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) certification through a testing process administered by NALS (previously known as National Association of Legal Secretaries). NALS also offers the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) certification, considered to be an advanced certification for legal support professionals.

The Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) certification is conferred by Legal Secretaries International in areas such as intellectual property, criminal law, civil litigation, probate, and business law. Candidates typically need to have 5 years of legal experience and pass an examination to become certified.

Advancement

Secretaries and administrative assistants generally advance to other administrative positions with more responsibilities, such as office supervisor, office manager, or executive secretary.

With additional training, many legal secretaries become paralegals or legal assistants.

Important Qualities

Integrity. Many secretaries and administrative assistants are trusted to handle sensitive information. For example, medical secretaries collect patient data that is required, by law, to be kept confidential in order to protect patient privacy.

Interpersonal skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants interact with clients, customers, or staff. They should communicate effectively and be courteous when interacting with others to create a positive work environment and client experience.

Organizational skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants keep files, folders, and schedules in proper order so an office can run efficiently.

Writing skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants write memos and emails when communicating with managers, employees, and customers. Therefore, they must have good grammar, ensure accuracy, and maintain a professional tone.

Legal Secretary Career Paths

Average Salary for a Legal Secretary

Legal Secretaries in America make an average salary of $39,867 per year or $19 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $54,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $29,000 per year.
Average Legal Secretary Salary
$39,867 Yearly
$19.17 hourly
$29,000
10 %
$39,000
Median
$54,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Legal Secretary Education

Legal Secretary Majors

22.5 %

Legal Secretary Degrees

Bachelors

37.4 %

Associate

34.2 %

High School Diploma

14.0 %

Top Colleges for Legal Secretarys

1. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,880
Enrollment
4,177

2. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

3. Maria College of Albany

Albany, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,140
Enrollment
876

4. George Washington University, The

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,230
Enrollment
12,161

5. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

6. Daemen College

Amherst, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$28,580
Enrollment
1,712

7. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

Alfred, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,570
Enrollment
3,721

8. Texas Wesleyan University

Fort Worth, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$30,300
Enrollment
1,445

9. Ball State University

Muncie, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,896
Enrollment
15,529

10. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

Top Skills For a Legal Secretary

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 26.1% of legal secretaries listed legal documents on their resume, but soft skills such as writing skills and interpersonal skills are important as well.

  • Legal Documents, 26.1%
  • Law Firm, 6.8%
  • Court Proceedings, 4.7%
  • Scheduling Appointments, 4.3%
  • Travel Arrangements, 3.8%
  • Other Skills, 54.3%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Legal Secretary Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Legal Secretary templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Legal Secretary resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Legal Secretary Demographics

Legal Secretary Gender Distribution

Female
Female
95%
Male
Male
5%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among legal secretaries, 94.8% of them are women, while 5.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among legal secretaries is White, which makes up 73.1% of all legal secretaries.

  • The most common foreign language among legal secretaries is Spanish at 70.7%.

Online Courses For Legal Secretary That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Effective Legal Office Administration
udemy
4.5
(583)

Effective Legal Office Administration...

Legal English
udemy
4.4
(745)

Legal language and communication skills...

Legal Tech and the Digital Transformation of Law
coursera

The digital revolution changed the way we communicate and trade. Now, it is coming into the world of law. This program will give you a broad overview of the main trends that are affecting the legal industry: - The birth of the legal tech market and the application of technology in law. - The role of artificial intelligence in the automation of the work of lawyers. - Blockchain technology and its impact on the way we sign and execute contracts. - Initiatives to ensure access to justice through vi...

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Best States For a Legal Secretary

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a legal secretary. The best states for people in this position are West Virginia, California, Colorado, and Connecticut. Legal secretaries make the most in West Virginia with an average salary of $55,128. Whereas in California and Colorado, they would average $49,695 and $48,721, respectively. While legal secretaries would only make an average of $46,129 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. District of Columbia

Total Legal Secretary Jobs:
114
Highest 10% Earn:
$91,000
Location Quotient:
3.19 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. West Virginia

Total Legal Secretary Jobs:
45
Highest 10% Earn:
$82,000
Location Quotient:
1.38 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Legal Secretary Jobs:
89
Highest 10% Earn:
$63,000
Location Quotient:
1.26 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Legal Secretaries

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Top Legal Secretary Employers

Most Common Employers For Legal Secretary

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Kirkland & Ellis$95,229$45.7872
2Greenberg Traurig$94,549$45.4676
3Latham & Watkins$88,641$42.62115
4Ropes & Gray$85,365$41.0465
5Norton Rose Fulbright$80,195$38.5675
6Dechert$78,167$37.5888
7Sidley Austin$72,409$34.8184
8McGuireWoods$72,088$34.6664
9Skadden$71,242$34.2579
10DLA Piper$66,583$32.0177

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Becoming a Legal Secretary FAQs

How long does it take to become a Legal Secretary?

It takes 4 years of professional experience to become a legal secretary. That is the time it takes to learn specific legal secretary skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education. If you include the normal education requirements to complete a college degree, then it takes 7 to 9 years years to become a legal secretary.

Is a legal secretary the same as a paralegal?

No, being a legal secretary is not the same as being a paralegal. A legal secretary serves in a more clerical capacity, typing, transcribing, and filing, while a paralegal typically assumes more legal responsibility, often writing legal drafts and creating legal correspondence on behalf of the attorney.

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