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Working As A Legal Secretary

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Performing Administrative Activities
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $39,000

    Average Salary

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.

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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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Legal Secretary Career Paths

Legal Secretary
Office Manager Accounting Manager
Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Operations Manager General Manager
Managing Partner
9 Yearsyrs
Executive Assistant Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Executive Assistant Account Executive Assistant Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Executive Legal Assistant Executive Assistant
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Attorney Consultant Senior Accountant
Accounts Payable Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Secretary Administrator
Business Office Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Legal Secretary
6 Yearsyrs
Administrator Business Office Manager
Accounts Receivable Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Attorney Consultant Accounting Manager
Comptroller
6 Yearsyrs
Attorney Senior Associate Senior Accountant
Accountant And Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Administrator Team Leader Customer Service Manager
Collections Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Manager Assistant Vice President
Administration Vice President
6 Yearsyrs
Owner Vice President Chief Finance Officer
Chief Administrative Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Owner Founder Board Member
Trustee
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant To Executive Vice President Human Resources Generalist
Office Manager Of Human Resources
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant To Executive Vice President Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Executive Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant To Executive Vice President Executive Assistant To President
Senior Executive Administrative Assistant
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Legal Assistant Executive/Personal Assistant Executive Secretary
Senior Administrative Secretary
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Secretary
Principal Secretary
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Legal Secretary 5.0 years
Legal Assistant 3.6 years
Secretary 3.0 years
Law Secretary 2.9 years
Junior Secretary 2.4 years
Legal Clerk 2.3 years
Legal Receptionist 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Legal Secretary
Secretary 11.0%
Paralegal 5.7%
Cashier 3.3%
Internship 2.7%
Clerk 1.6%
File Clerk 1.5%
Top Careers After Legal Secretary
Paralegal 9.9%
Secretary 6.0%
Cashier 2.7%
Assistant 1.5%
Owner 1.5%

Do you work as a Legal Secretary?

Average Yearly Salary
$39,000
Show Salaries
$27,000
Min 10%
$39,000
Median 50%
$39,000
Median 50%
$39,000
Median 50%
$39,000
Median 50%
$39,000
Median 50%
$39,000
Median 50%
$39,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Latham & Watkins
Highest Paying City
Palo Alto, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
5.0 years
How much does a Legal Secretary make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Legal Secretary in the United States is $39,162 per year or $19 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $55,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Legal Secretary Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Finance Broker & Legal Foreign Secretary Sky Enterprises LLC Aug 01, 2014 $110,000
Legal Secretaries Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Jun 18, 2012 $77,771
Legal Secretary Feiner & Lavy PC Sep 04, 2015 $67,766
Legal Secretaries Foley Hoag LLP Nov 08, 2012 $66,250
Legal Secretaries Law Offices of James S. Hong Jun 25, 2014 $61,797
Legal Secretaries Law Offices of James S. Hong Aug 07, 2014 $61,797
Legal Secretaries Law Offices of PJ Lee, P.C. Mar 09, 2012 $60,091
Legal Secretary Law Office of Thomas V. Allen. PLLC. Nov 05, 2012 $60,000
Legal Secretaries Brian Lee Attorney at Law Jan 17, 2008 $55,827
Legal Secretaries Brian Lee Attorney at Law Nov 20, 2007 $55,827
Legal Secretaries Feiner & Lavy PC Apr 10, 2012 $55,619
Legal Secretary Law Office of Leping Zhu, P.C. Dec 01, 2009 $46,415
Legal Secretaries Feiner & Lavy PC May 09, 2011 $45,580
Legal Secretaries Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC Apr 03, 2009 $42,162
Legal Secretaries Law Offices of James S. Hong May 02, 2011 $40,780
Legal Secretary Harvard Management Associates Inc. Sep 10, 2014 $39,924
Legal Secretary American Education Center, Inc. Sep 10, 2014 $39,924
Legal Secretary Robert A. Siegel, ESQ. Aug 17, 2012 $39,319 -
$48,084
Legal Secretary Robert A. Siegel Aug 17, 2012 $39,319 -
$48,084
Legal Secretary Law Office of Peter L. Quan, PLLC Sep 10, 2015 $36,800 -
$37,000
Legal Secretary The Kasen Law Firm PLLC Oct 01, 2012 $36,450
Legal Secretary Leigh Group PLLC Oct 29, 2015 $35,942
Legal Secretary Robert A. Siegel, ESQ. Aug 16, 2010 $35,479
Legal Secretary Scott T. Kimmel, P.A. Jun 25, 2009 $35,020
Legal Secretary Wong, Wong & Associates, P.C. Oct 01, 2012 $35,000

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Top Skills for A Legal Secretary

  1. Legal Documents
  2. Court Hearings
  3. Real Estate
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supported Managing Partner with document management, calendar organization, preparation for meetings, and preparation of correspondence and legal documents.
  • Prepared and maintained attorney's weekly calendar/appointment schedule, scheduled court hearings, organized client files and scheduled attorney/client appointments.
  • Prepared standardized legal documents needed to conduct real estate foreclosures and bankruptcy motion for relief and objection to confirmation.
  • Prepare and process legal documents and papers, such as complaints, appeals, motions, and pretrial agreements.
  • Coordinate travel arrangements, meetings and maintain business/personal calendar client contact, manage business/personal calendar for partner and associate.

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Top 10 Best States for Legal Secretaries

  1. New Jersey
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Nevada
  4. Iowa
  5. Delaware
  6. New York
  7. Alaska
  8. Illinois
  9. California
  10. Connecticut
  • (234 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (32 jobs)
  • (62 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (413 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (171 jobs)
  • (662 jobs)
  • (62 jobs)

Legal Secretary Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 66,556 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.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Legal Secretary Resume

View Resume Examples

Legal Secretary Demographics

Gender

Female

88.6%

Male

7.5%

Unknown

3.9%
Ethnicity

White

61.7%

Hispanic or Latino

17.3%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.7%

French

7.6%

German

3.7%

Portuguese

3.1%

Russian

2.7%

Italian

2.3%

Arabic

1.5%

Polish

1.3%

Chinese

1.1%

Mandarin

0.9%

Japanese

0.9%

Korean

0.7%

Hindi

0.6%

Greek

0.6%

Carrier

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.4%

Dutch

0.4%

Tagalog

0.4%

Urdu

0.4%

Albanian

0.3%
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Legal Secretary Education

Schools

Kaplan University

14.9%

Katharine Gibbs School

9.2%

Miami Dade College

8.5%

Strayer University

6.5%

Florida International University

6.4%

University of Maryland - University College

4.5%

Ashford University

4.2%

University of Houston

4.1%

New York University

4.1%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.9%

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York

3.6%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.6%

Prince George's Community College

3.6%

Nassau Community College

3.5%

Oakland Community College

3.3%

Robert Morris University - Illinois

3.3%

Montclair State University

3.2%

American InterContinental University

3.2%

Northeastern University

3.2%

Community College of Philadelphia

3.1%
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Majors

Legal Support Services

26.7%

Business

18.8%

Criminal Justice

8.5%

Psychology

4.4%

Health Care Administration

4.0%

Legal Studies

3.9%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

3.9%

Law

3.7%

Accounting

3.7%

Liberal Arts

2.9%

Political Science

2.8%

English

2.7%

General Studies

2.6%

Nursing

2.1%

Management

1.8%

Communication

1.7%

Medical Assisting Services

1.7%

Education

1.6%

Elementary Education

1.3%

Real Estate

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

29.4%

Associate

28.5%

High School Diploma

15.9%

Certificate

14.7%

Masters

4.9%

Diploma

4.0%

Doctorate

1.9%

License

0.7%
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Updated May 18, 2020