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Legal Secretary Careers

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.

Duties

Secretaries and administrative assistants typically do the following:

  • Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
  • Schedule appointments and update event calendars
  • Arrange staff meetings
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
  • Prepare memos, invoices, or other reports
  • Edit documents
  • Maintain databases and filing systems, whether electronic or paper
  • Perform basic bookkeeping

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform a variety of clerical and administrative duties that are necessary to run an organization efficiently. They use computer software to create spreadsheets; manage databases; and prepare presentations, reports, and documents. They also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, and manage stockrooms or corporate libraries. Secretaries and administrative assistants also use videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment. Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty.

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants provide high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization. They often handle more complex responsibilities, such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, and preparing reports. Some also supervise clerical staff.

Legal secretaries perform work requiring knowledge of legal terminology and procedures. They prepare legal documents, such as summonses, complaints, motions, and subpoenas under the supervision of an attorney or a paralegal. They also review legal journals and help with legal research—for example, by verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs.

Medical secretaries transcribe dictation and prepare reports or articles for physicians or medical scientists. They also take simple medical histories of patients, arrange for patients to be hospitalized, or process insurance payments. Medical secretaries need to be familiar with medical terminology and codes, medical records, and hospital or laboratory procedures.

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive is the largest subcategory of secretaries and administrative assistants. They handle an office’s administrative activities in almost every sector of the economy, including schools, government, and private corporations. For example, secretaries in schools are often responsible for handling most of the communications among parents, students, the community, teachers, and school administrators. They schedule appointments, receive visitors, and keep track of students’ records.

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.

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Average Salary
$37,097
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
-7%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
9,044
Job Openings

Legal Secretary Career Paths

Top Careers Before Legal Secretary

Secretary
10.3 %

Top Careers After Legal Secretary

Paralegal
11.3 %

Legal Secretary Jobs You Might Like

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Legal Secretary

Legal Secretaries in America make an average salary of $37,097 per year or $18 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $52,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $26,000 per year.
Average Salary
$37,097
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Washington, DC
Salary Range43k - 71k$56k$55,998
Salinas, CA
Salary Range37k - 62k$49k$48,536
Boston, MA
Salary Range37k - 47k$42k$42,359
Denver, CO
Salary Range35k - 46k$41k$40,819
Reno, NV
Salary Range32k - 49k$40k$40,326
Raleigh, NC
Salary Range31k - 51k$40k$40,009
$26k
$71k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Legal Secretary II
Legal Secretary II
Pasco County
Pasco County
06/27/2021
06/27/2021
$37,00306/27/2021
$37,003
Kelly Services
Legal Secretary
Legal Secretary
Kelly Services
Kelly Services
06/27/2021
06/27/2021
$41,74006/27/2021
$41,740
Legal Secretary I/II
Legal Secretary I/II
County of El Dorado
County of El Dorado
06/26/2021
06/26/2021
$36,04606/26/2021
$36,046
Legal Secretary
Legal Secretary
University of Michigan
University of Michigan
06/25/2021
06/25/2021
$41,00006/25/2021
$41,000
Legal Secretary-Financial Services Section
Legal Secretary-Financial Services Section
Missouri Attorney General
Missouri Attorney General
06/25/2021
06/25/2021
$33,18006/25/2021
$33,180
See More Recent Salaries

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Legal Secretary Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Legal Secretary. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Legal Secretary Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Legal Secretary resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Legal Secretary Demographics

Gender

female

88.6 %

male

7.5 %

unknown

3.9 %

Ethnicity

White

74.3 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.7 %

Black or African American

6.0 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.7 %

French

7.6 %

German

3.7 %
See More Demographics

Legal Secretary Education

Majors

Business
20.9 %

Degrees

Bachelors

28.5 %

Certificate

27.3 %

Associate

26.2 %

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
See More Education Info

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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%
  • See All Legal Secretary Skills

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 California, Connecticut, Alaska, and West Virginia. Legal secretaries make the most in California with an average salary of $46,255. Whereas in Connecticut and Alaska, they would average $43,985 and $43,545, respectively. While legal secretaries would only make an average of $43,483 in West Virginia, 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:
$88,000
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:
$66,000
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. New Hampshire

Total Legal Secretary Jobs:
83
Highest 10% Earn:
$51,000
Location Quotient:
2.23
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
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Top Legal Secretary Employers

1. Robert Half International
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$33,988
Legal Secretarys Hired: 
417+
2. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$75,349
Legal Secretarys Hired: 
120+
3. Latham & Watkins
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$64,944
Legal Secretarys Hired: 
115+
4. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$71,601
Legal Secretarys Hired: 
106+
5. Dechert
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$69,717
Legal Secretarys Hired: 
100+
6. Winston & Strawn
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$69,743
Legal Secretarys Hired: 
91+

Legal Secretary Videos

Updated October 2, 2020