Legal Secretary Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Are you searching for a legal secretary job description? Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a legal secretary. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a legal secretary.
Who is a Legal Secretary?
A legal secretary is a clerical-level employee with specialized legal training who assists lawyers and paralegals in their work.
Legal secretaries make sure a law firm operates effectively and efficiently so that attorneys can concentrate on the needs of their clients. By offering general administrative support, such as telephone answering, message taking, and document photocopying among others, they lessen the workload of attorneys.
Legal Secretary Job Description
What is a legal secretary job description? A legal secretary job description is simply a list of duties and responsibilities of a legal secretary in an organization. Below are the legal secretary job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a legal secretary job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
The duties and responsibilities of a legal secretary include the following;
- Composing letters and other documents to protect the confidentiality of company data, such as customer lists and trade secrets.
- Answering the phone and directing calls to the appropriate party.
- Keeping records and calendars and submitting paperwork to the court.
- Arranging meetings between clients and attorneys or other legal experts such as paralegals or counselors.
- Identifying the legal documents that will be needed for a case and researching the applicable laws.
- Ensuring court documents such as briefs, exhibits, motions, pleadings, witness lists discovery requests, subpoenas, and other related paperwork must be created.
- Assisting with legal research and communication with suppliers, consultants, attorneys, defense counsel, and other personnel.
- Keeping multiple agendas and sending out timely reminders to assist people in meeting deadlines.
- Preparing a travel itinerary for processing expenses.
- Conducting research and assisting with trial preparation.
- Checking documents for spelling and grammar errors and formatting them according to legal requirements.
- Conducting phone or in-person interviews with clients before referring clients to their attorneys.
- Taking notes during meetings or trials using shorthand or another method of verbal communication.
Legal secretaries have the following qualifications:
- A high school diploma or its equivalent is required.
- Associate’s degree in legal studies or an equivalent qualification.
- A minimum of three years experience in a legal secretary position.
- Familiarity with legal jargon and documentation.
- Capability to collaborate with a team of attorneys and other organization members.
- Proficient in the use of MS Office and other word processing programs.
- Outstanding oral and written communication abilities.
- Ability to Pay close attention, and act politely and professionally.
- Ability to type quickly and accurately.
Legal secretaries must have the following skills to succeed:
- Critical Thinking:
As a legal secretary, you will conduct research and provide opinions on cases. When you have critical thinking skills, you can think critically and evaluate things analytically. If you have the ability to use critical thinking, you can evaluate a case more accurately and provide more reasoned input to your attorney. You can hone your critical thinking skills by practicing logical debating, reading more books, comprehending and considering others’ thoughts and opinions, and solving difficult problems.
Legal secretaries communicate with clients, other legal professionals, and the general public. You can establish trust with others when you have the ability to communicate clearly. Legal secretaries should be able to communicate complex ideas and information to others whenever they are required to do so.
- Detail-oriented Observation:
The ability to detect subtle changes in information and make necessary corrections necessitates close attention to detail. Legal secretaries frequently handle contracts, agreements, and other legal documents that contain precise information. By paying attention to the details, you can ensure that the information in the documents is accurate and consistent. This reduces the possibility of errors and ensures the documents’ validity.
- Abilities to Conduct Research:
While drafting legal documents, you may need to conduct extensive research. As a legal secretary, you may need to conduct some basic research in order to respond to difficult questions from clients. Practicing your research skills may help you find the answers you need and complete your work more quickly and effectively.
- Excellent Organizational and Administrative Abilities:
If you want to work as a legal secretary, you will need to develop strong administrative and organizational skills. You will be in charge of planning travel, scheduling meetings, managing calendars, and assigning task priorities for your employer. It is critical that you handle these responsibilities in a way that presents your employer as organized and professional.
- Ability to type quickly and accurately:
For legal secretaries, the ability to type quickly is essential. Accuracy is also essential when typing legal documents and other materials. You can improve your typing speed by taking a typing course or practicing frequently.
- Computer knowledge:
Legal secretaries should be familiar with word processing, spreadsheets, and other computer software. Legal secretaries must be computer literate because they frequently use computers to complete tasks such as typing documents, creating presentations, and filling out forms.
- Excellent Interpersonal Skills:
As a legal secretary, you will frequently communicate with clients and attorneys. It is critical for you to have strong interpersonal skills in order to make people feel at ease and confident in your abilities. You should also be able to speak concisely and clearly to ensure that everyone understands the information being shared.
- Legal Understanding:
Legal secretaries must also have specialized legal technical knowledge. The ability to correctly edit, format, file, and organize legal documents is dependent on your knowledge of legal principles and terminology. As a legal secretary, you may come across a variety of documents, such as motions, briefs, pleadings, and depositions. Each of these documents has its own goal, vocabulary, and structure. It is critical that these documents are properly prepared and that the secretary understands the specifications and importance of each file.
Professionalism requires teamwork and the ability to form long-lasting bonds both within and outside of the organization. As a legal secretary, maintaining a positive impression of yourself and your law firm is dependent on your professionalism. Being professional also allows you to follow the company’s code of conduct and practice good work ethics.
- Time management
Legal projects frequently have short deadlines, therefore legal secretaries must be excellent time managers. In law offices, many cases are handled concurrently, and the secretary oversees the timelines and deadlines for each case. The timely submission of documents or information is critical to ensuring that cases and projects are handled properly.
Legal secretary jobs necessitate adaptability. Legal secretaries frequently work on a wide range of cases, and one of their responsibilities may include researching laws and proofs for cases by reading legal books, visiting libraries, and speaking with people. Law firms handle multiple cases at the same time. To complete your tasks, you may need to put in more time at work. Being adaptable at work can boost your productivity and keep you from becoming frustrated.
- Multitasking Abilities:
While multitasking, you can complete several tasks at once without becoming distracted. Many important multitasking and workload management tasks must be completed by a legal secretary in order to deliver the required documents on time. As a legal secretary, you may be required to perform a variety of tasks on a daily basis while maintaining a high standard of work.
How to Become a Legal Secretary
Being a legal secretary is a great way to get started in the legal field, secretarial work, or a position that combines the two. However, you can become a legal assistant by following the steps outlined below:
- Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent
A high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum educational requirement for positions as a legal secretary. Consider taking English, journalism, or computer science courses to improve your writing and technical skills for postsecondary education.
If you want to work as a legal secretary but don’t have a high school diploma, you can enroll in adult education classes to get one.
- Consider Completing a Postsecondary Certificate Program in Legal Secretarial Studies
Although a postsecondary certificate is not required to work as a legal secretary, it can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills. Many aspiring legal secretaries choose to enroll in a certificate program at a nearby community college or vocational school that teaches legal terminology and procedures while also providing hands-on experience with office software.
A certificate program usually lasts a year and includes classes in office management, computer applications, court reporting, medical law, ethics, and professional practice.
- Learn about Legal Jargon and Procedures
As a legal secretary, you will interact with lawyers and clients who speak a specialized language. You can become acquainted with the terms used in your state’s legal system by reading court records and other legal documents. You can also enroll in classes or seminars to learn about legal practices and procedures.
You should also be familiar with office procedures. You should be able to use voicemail systems and welcome clients into the office.
- Gain Experience using Word Processing, Spreadsheet, and Database Software Programs
According to the majority of employers, legal secretaries must have at least one year of experience using word processing, spreadsheet, and database software. These programs are used in law firms to draft documents, control spending, organize case files, and keep track of deadlines.
Volunteer work or part-time employment in a legal office can provide this experience. These abilities may also be taught in courses at your local community college.
- Choose an Area of Specialty.
As a legal secretary, you could work in a variety of legal fields. The main distinction is between civil and criminal law, but there are also more specialized civil law subfields such as corporate litigation, real estate, contracts, and employment. When deciding which is the best fit for you, consider your interests and the type of environment you want to work in.
If you like the idea of serving the government and the public good, you might enjoy working for a District Attorney’s or Public Defender’s Office.
If you enjoy socializing with people from different cultures, a small immigration firm might be a good fit for you.
Similarly, if you want a high salary and don’t mind stress, consider working for a corporate law firm.
- Prepare a Compelling Resume
Adapt your resume to the duties of the specific employer. If you don’t have any relevant work experience, emphasize your relevant skills instead, such as your knowledge of legal processes and your computer and interpersonal skills.
- Apply for Job
When applying for jobs, focus on small businesses and solo practitioners. If you have less legal experience, you have a better chance of being hired by a smaller firm with only one or two attorneys.
even more, submit an application for government employment. Despite lower pay than large corporations, government jobs are an excellent way for new legal secretaries to enter the workforce.
- Consider Certification
If you choose to pursue certification, you will have access to a variety of options. Legal Secretaries International’s Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CL) designation covers seven legal specialties, including business, criminal, probate, and intellectual property law. The National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) offers the Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS) and Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) credentials to those who wish to obtain legal secretaries certification.
To be eligible to take the CL certification exams, you must have at least five years of legal experience. Education can replace up to three years of experience. According to the ALS requirements, you must complete the NALS legal training course or an equivalent course in business or law, or work in an office for a year. The exam covers written communication, office practices, and ethics. To be eligible for the PLS, you must have three years of legal experience. Education or passing the ALS exam can replace a year of experience. The PLS exam will assess your knowledge of the law, ethics, and office procedures.
- Advance Your Career
Whether you prefer to focus on legal knowledge or secretarial skills will determine your advancement. In the first case, you might gain enough knowledge to work as an executive secretary, executive assistant, or office manager. If the latter is true, you could become a paralegal. Unless your employer is willing to train you on the job, you will typically need an associate’s degree in paralegal studies to work as a paralegal.
Where to Work as a Legal Secretary
Legal secretaries work in law offices, corporate legal departments, and governmental organizations. Legal secretaries may also work for tax consulting firms, insurance companies, and financial institutions. Even though they frequently work a standard 40-hour work week, they must occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines. Legal secretaries are frequently employed in warm, well-lit offices. Some may work in courtrooms or law libraries. Although most legal secretaries work regular hours, they may need to work late at night or on weekends to complete projects or attend meetings.
Legal Secretary Salary Scale
An entry-level legal secretary with less than a year of experience can expect to earn an average total salary of $37,764 (including tips, bonuses, and overtime pay). In the same vein, an entry-level legal secretary with 1-4 years of experience can expect to earn $43 per hour on average.
Similarly, an experienced legal secretary in the middle of their career earns $51,342 per year on average. Moreso, a legal secretary with 10 to 19 years of experience earns an average annual salary of $60,148. The average total compensation for employees in their late careers (20 years or more) is $67,537.