How to Become a Legal Secretary

The title legal secretary is different than paralegal even though they used to be synonymous. Over the last twenty years paralegals and legal secretaries, have sought to differentiate themselves from one another. Legal secretaries handle all of the day to day tasks for attorneys such as setting appointments, scheduling meetings and maintaining the tickler systems, which are automatic reminder systems used in law firms to remind lawyers and paralegals of important filing dates, etc.

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Legal Secretary Qualifications, Requirements and Common Tasks

Legal secretaries often have previous secretarial experience even if it is not in a law related field. They, unlike paralegals, are not usually required to have as much legal training or certification since they handle mostly administrative matters, such as billing clients and managing the calendar of the attorney for whom they work. Legal secretaries used to have a much more law-oriented role in law offices until the mid-eighties, when paralegals started to distinguish themselves from secretaries (and vice versa) and did less administrative tasks, and more tasks that lawyers used to do. This shift in job descriptions allowed lawyers to bill clients less because they no longer had to perform all of the law-related tasks at a lawyer’s rate, and left the legal secretary to focus on administrative duties primarily. Most firms require that legal secretaries possess some legal training or equivalent experience and at least a two-year degree.

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Legal Secretary Job Outlook, Salary and Employers

Legal SecretaryAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for legal secretaries is $42,460 per year in the United States and the top 10% earn a median salary of $66,940 per year as of May 2011.1 Legal secretaries have less room for advancement and are being replaced by paralegals in some cases, making the job market more competitive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, secretaries and administrative assistants make up one of the largest occupations in the US, though legal secretaries hold fewer jobs than general offices, the job outlook is still positive for legal secretaries.

Legal Secretary Degrees & Paralegal Training Programs from Accredited Schools

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Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • CERT: Paralegal Studies

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Keiser University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Legal Studies, BA (Online)

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Virginia College
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BAC-Paralegal Studies
  • AS - Paralegal Studies

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Penn Foster Schools
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Paralegal

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California University of Pennsylvania
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Legal Studies: Law and Public Policy
  • Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence: Legal Studies

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies


References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes436012.htm

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.