Legal Secretaries perform secretarial duties using legal terminology, procedures, and documents. They also prepare legal papers and correspondence, such as complaints, motions, summonses, and subpoenas. Finally they may also assist the lawyers in legal research and arrange meetings between the attorney and potential witnesses for some cases. Generally they help run the law office and ensure that the services provided to each of the clients is both efficient and complete.
Most states do not require an individual to have a degree in order to become a legal secretary. However, most law firms will only hire someone that has a degree of some type. Many legal secretaries have a degree in a subject related to business and will then take an accredited legal secretary course in order to be qualified to work for a law firm.
For those that do not have a degree in legal administration there are accredited legal courses available that will allow them to seek employment as a legal secretary. There are many colleges and universities that offer these legal courses. There are also some that provide online legal courses. It is important to make sure that the course is fully accredited before applying to make sure that a person will become fully certified in the field.
During a legal training course a person will learn legal vocabulary, which is very important for work within a law firm. In addition, the course will teach administrative skills that will allow a person to gain an understanding of how to run an efficient office. Computer skills will be learned as well.
Legal secretaries need to have a high level of confidence and be extremely organized as they will have to communicate with their boss regularly and schedule appointments and meetings for the lawyers and their clients. Communication skills are extremely important for those that wish to work as a legal secretary.
There are many jobs available for those that wish to become legal secretaries. Many law firms are now hiring legal secretaries in order to maintain a more efficient office. It is important to note that progression in this field is difficult as the skills required by a legal secretary are extremely defined. Most people that enter this field remain there for a long time. There are some individuals that choose to become legal secretaries and then go back to school to earn their law degree and progress into a legal career.
After obtaining a job as a legal secretary it is important to continue your education and to make sure that you keep your certification current. The requirements for keeping certification current will vary based on the credentials, but often will require that an individual take part in activities such as educational sessions within the field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2013 there were 220,680 legal secretaries across the United States with an annual average salary of $45,030 and hourly wage of $21.65 per hour.