It can take months before a legal case is actually brought before a judge and all the preparation that goes into a case requires a huge amount of work – more than any lawyer can handle on his or her own. Legal secretaries provide support for lawyers, working behind the scenes. They handle the everyday duties of a law office with a unique combination of administrative skills and legal know-how.
Legal Secretary Job Description
Legal secretaries need to be extremely organized, great at multitasking and keeping to deadlines. A legal secretary’s daily work might include preparing legal documents, such as motions, briefs and subpoenas; filing legal paper work; creating complex spreadsheets to keep track of case proceedings; and scheduling meetings with attorneys, clients and other legal staff. In addition, a legal secretary is also responsible for basic administrative tasks such as taking dictation, answering phones and preparing correspondence. Most legal secretaries work in law firms, although some might find themselves employed in the legal departments of corporations or government offices.
How to Become a Legal Secretary
The educational paths a legal secretary may pursue vary, as there are no strictly set educational requirements to enter the field. In most cases, legal secretaries get their start by completing a one to two-year, legal secretarial program at a community college or career school. You can find a program where you attend courses, or one that allows you to complete your legal studies degree online. These programs teach basic secretarial skills including typing, spreadsheet creation and billing. What makes these programs unique from other secretarial programs; however, is that they also teach the technical legal terminology necessary to work in a law office.
Legal secretaries can become certified by taking an exam offered by the National Association for Legal Professionals or by the National Association of Legal Secretaries. While it’s not technically necessary to possess any formal certification to work as a legal secretary, it can be a big advantage in the job market.
Legal Secretary Salary and Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary of legal secretaries in 2017 was $48,600. Job growth for legal assistants is expected to increase 15%, much faster than average, between 2016, and 2026.
As lawyers attempt to make legal services more accessible, they delegate certain legal tasks out to paralegals and legal assistants. This trend translates to an increased need for lawyer support staff like paralegals and legal secretaries. In fact according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics job growth within this field is expected to increase at an above average rate.