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Legal Secretary: Career Profile

Legal secretaries generally must have some formal education or training. Learn about the education, job duties and other requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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A high school diploma is required to be a legal secretary, although some employers prefer postsecondary education. Specific training in legal terms, court-filing procedures and criminal law may be beneficial for candidates preparing to enter the field as a legal secretary.

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Essential Information

Legal secretaries work in law offices, providing administrative, organizational and research support to lawyers and other legal staff. Organized individuals looking for an administrative career in law may want to consider this career choice. A high school diploma and professional training or completion of related college courses is usually necessary for employment. Some legal secretaries also earn a professional certificate. The job often requires on-the-job training; and office skills are needed.

Required Education High school diploma, college courses preferred by some employers
Other Requirements On-the-job training often necessary, professional certification may be required by some employers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -4% (decline)*
Mean Salary (2015)* $36,500 annually* for all secretaries and administrative assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Legal Secretary Job Duties

Legal secretaries, a type of administrative assistant, perform a wide range of duties in law offices. They help lawyers prepare and process legal documents, such as appeals, subpoenas and motions. They complete forms, such as accident reports, for clients. They may also assist with legal research.

Since legal secretaries perform a host of clerical duties in law offices, they must know about legal procedures. Legal secretaries help manage files at courthouses and large legal firms. They may also help new attorneys with document preparation for court.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), secretaries and administrative assistants in general were predicted to see a 4% employment decline between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported that the mean annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants was $36,500 in May 2015.

Educational Requirements

Although entry-level legal secretaries may be hired with only a high school diploma and some office training, they generally need formal training to learn the terminology and procedures used in a legal setting. Vocational and community colleges offer 1-2 year programs that cover legal topics, such as criminal law, legal terminology, research citations, court-filing procedures, that acquaint students with law-office procedures. Additionally, students may learn basic office skills, such as word processing, accounting, filing and spreadsheets. Some programs offer students internship opportunities. Legal secretaries will benefit from having good spelling, punctuation and grammar skills.

Certification

Legal secretaries can obtain certification from several organizations. While certification may not be a requirement for employment, these credentials demonstrate proficiency in office skills and legal knowledge. Some certifications include the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist offered by Legal Secretaries International, Inc. The National Association of Legal Secretaries offers the Accredited Legal Secretary and the Professional Legal Secretary credentials. To obtain certification, legal secretaries generally need to complete a training course and pass an examination.

The current job growth rate for all secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to drop by 4% through 2024. Individuals preparing to enter the field as a legal secretary can consider courses in law, criminal studies, legal terminology and may want to pursue an internship to demonstrate experience when applying for positions. Professional certification can prove competency; it usually calls for a training course and an exam.

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