Legal secretaries are expected to have both secretarial skills and a basic understanding of the legal system and procedures, and so are typically expected to obtain either a legal secretary certificate or associate's degree. These programs teach individuals legal terminology and how to prepare legal documents, and ready them for a career in which they may an earn a salary of $43,200.
Legal secretaries need a combination of basic legal knowledge and secretarial skills. They must be familiar with court filing rules, legal documents, legal terminology and law office procedures in order to prepare documents, do research, schedule witnesses, and perform other assigned tasks. While not all employers require formal education, legal secretary certificate and degree programs can prepare individuals to perform the required job duties and also advance in their careers.
|Required Education||Legal secretary certificate or associate's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||4% decline*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$43,200 annually*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education Requirements for Legal Secretaries
While some legal secretaries have no formal post-secondary training, the large majority have completed legal secretary certificate or associate degree programs at community colleges or career schools. Legal secretary programs equip students with an understanding of general legal office procedures and legal terminology. They also prepare graduates to produce legal documents, including subpoenas, legal memos, complaints, motions, charges, discovery documents, deeds, pleadings and briefs.
Potential courses include business math, legal research, records management, legal technology, business law, legal transcription, legal writing, business communications, word processing and law terminology. Upon completion of a legal secretary program, graduates are familiar with court filing rules, probate and estate planning, proper legal symbols and filing techniques, as well as legal fundamentals such as employment law and torts.
Legal secretaries provide administrative support to lawyers. Combining general secretarial skills with basic legal knowledge and skills, legal secretaries help with legal research, maintain office records, type briefs and subpoenas, maintain docket systems, record trial dates and schedule witnesses. They also schedule depositions and hearings, as well as update discovery binders.
Most legal secretaries work with law firms. Other employment settings may include courts, government agencies, public interest firms, non-profit organizations and corporate legal departments. Legal secretaries may also find employment as legal word processors, document clerks, litigation assistants or legal receptionists.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for legal secretaries will decline by 5% between 2014 and 2024. Legal secretaries earned median annual wages of $43,200 in 2015, according to the BLS.
Becoming a legal secretary will likely require that you receive the appropriate certificate or associate's degree and learn both fundamentals of administrative support and a basic understanding of law. Through this education you'll be prepared to create legal documents, maintain office records, and keep things running smoothly in law firms, earning a median salary of $43,200 per year.