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.
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.
Legal Secretary Job Outlook, Salary and Employers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for legal secretaries is $45,030 per year in the United States and the top 10% earn a median salary of $69,360 per year as of 2012.1 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.
Featured Schools with Paralegal Studies Programs
- Certificate: Paralegal (Legal Studies)
- A.S. in Legal Studies
- B.S. in Legal Studies
- CERT: Paralegal Studies
Grand Canyon University
- M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes436012.htm
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.