Legal secretaries perform clerical, administrative and phone work using legal terminology and procedures. They prepare and process legal documents such as subpoenas, appeals and motions. Legal secretaries may also handle client billing, legal research, office memos and the organisation of case files.
Duties and responsibilities
- Receive and place telephone calls
- Schedule and make appointments
- Arrange travel for one or more attorneys and staff
- Prepare, proofread and process legal documents such as subpoenas, summonses, motions and appeals
- Complete accident reports, trial requests, client applications and other forms
- Type and distribute office memos
- Handle client billing and payments received
- Arrange for delivery of legal correspondence and documents to clients, etc
- Make photocopies of legal documents as requested
- Assist lawyers with background research on clients and other people involved in a case
- Use legal publications and databases to help attorneys find laws and court decisions
- Maintain and organise documents, case files and legal publications in the law library
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
Legal secretaries typically work full time in an office setting, during regular hours. You may work additional hours to help on a large case or to meet a deadline.
Law work can be fast-paced and stressful. Legal secretaries must be prepared for large workloads, short deadlines and abrupt changes in assignments.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Many legal secretary positions only require a high school education. With two to three years of experience, you can sit for a certification exam from legal professional organisations like Legal Secretaries, Incorporated (LSI) or NALS. Certification and any postsecondary education can help enhance your résumé for legal secretary jobs.
Some larger firms may require a relevant associate's degree, which can often be obtained at community colleges and local technical schools.
Most legal secretaries receive several months of on-the-job training to learn office and court procedures as well as legal terminology.
Experience as a legal secretary and postsecondary education can help you land higher-paying jobs at larger firms. Some legal secretaries earn an associate's or bachelor's degree and become paralegals.
Technology continues to make typical secretarial tasks easier for lawyers to do on their own, which is why this job market is shrinking. Just as paralegals increasingly take over tasks from lawyers, other job roles may be altered or combined. There will always be plenty of detailed tasks in law work, however, so legal secretarial jobs may evolve but likely won't disappear.