Legal secretaries perform office administrative duties for legal firms. Legal secretaries prepare documents, including complaints, subpoenas and court motions. They also verify information, sources and quotes that will be utilized in court trials and other types of legal proceedings. They need a solid foundation regarding the court system and legal terminology. Legal secretaries can also function as administrative assistants and executive assistants in the legal industry.
- Perform information processing and storage
- Prepare documents and perform research
- Make schedules and appointments
- Perform database searches and review legal publications to find court decisions and laws that are relevant to law cases
- Arrange for delivery of legal correspondence to court officials, clients and witnesses
- Organize and maintain law libraries, case files and documents
- Draft and type office memos
- Help lawyers gather information
- Attend legal meetings and take notes
Legal secretaries typically work 40 hours a week, however sometimes overtime is required. Legal secretaries should have good oral and written communications skills. They should be well organized and detailed oriented. Good word processing skills are also important for the occupation. A legal secretary often communicates with lawyers, legal experts and other legal personnel.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 12 percent job growth for legal secretaries from 2006 to 2016. Candidates that hold a bachelor's degree or have acquired some formal training as a legal secretary have the best career opportunities. A need to lower legal costs and an increased demand for legal services should continue to provide job opportunities for legal secretaries.
The median annual earnings in 2006 for legal secretaries was $38,190. The salary depends on years of experience and the location of the job. Legal secretaries employed in large metropolitan areas such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago usually receive higher salaries due to the larger number of corporations and private legal practices that are located in large cities.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Legal secretarial certificate and degree programs in legal studies are provided at community colleges, private careers schools and technical centers. The programs usually take one to two years to complete. They usually include courses such as legal applications and legal research. Some employers seek applicants that have a bachelor's degree with a minor in legal studies.
Through a testing procedure, the National Association of Legal Assistants offers the Accredited Legal Secretary designation to those that have, at a minimum, one year of experience in the legal field and to those that have completed an approved training course. The association also provides the Professional Legal Secretary certificate for legal support professionals.
The major employers are law firms, legal support services, insurance carriers, corporations and the government.
Schools for Legal Secretaries are listed in the Browse Schools Section.