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.
Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
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.
As you move along in your career, you may start taking on more responsibilities or notice that you've taken on a leadership role. Using our career map, a legal secretary can determine their career goals through the career progression. For example, they could start out with a role such as office manager, progress to a title such as accounting manager and then eventually end up with the title controller.
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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.
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.
After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:
Effective Legal Office Administration...
Legal language and communication skills...
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...
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
2. West Virginia
|Rank||Company||Average Salary||Hourly Rate||Job Openings|
|1||Kirkland & Ellis||$95,229||$45.78||72|
|3||Latham & Watkins||$88,641||$42.62||115|
|4||Ropes & Gray||$85,365||$41.04||65|
|5||Norton Rose Fulbright||$80,195||$38.56||75|
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.
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.