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Litigation Secretary: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a litigation secretary. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and optional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A litigation secretary is responsible for general administrative tasks within a litigation attorney's office, including filing legal documents, handling client communication, and maintaining time and billing records. An associate's degree and/or certification are usually a requirement for this position.

Essential Information

Litigation secretaries work in the offices of litigation attorneys, performing administrative duties and assisting in some legal tasks. They might help with research and writing, but they're not allowed to give legal advice, determine legal fees or represent a client in court. In addition to attorneys, litigation secretaries typically work with court administrators and judges, as well as law firm clients and staff. Qualifications for these positions vary, but litigation secretaries generally need a certificate or associate's degree in legal secretary or legal assistant. A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies or certification in legal assisting could improve employment prospects.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Certification is helpful
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -4% for legal secretaries*
Median Salary (2015) $43,200 for legal secretaries*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties of a Litigation Secretary

A litigation secretary's primary duty is to help organize the data behind legal proceedings. Their daily tasks can vary substantially by employer, but general functions include:

  • Formatting briefs, pleadings and other legal documents
  • Keeping track of attorney time records and billing
  • Filing legal documents (e-filing skills are preferred)
  • Transcribing dictations
  • Corresponding with clients
  • Maintaining calendars

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Litigation Secretary Requirements

Litigation secretaries deal with very detail-oriented data associated with lawsuits, so they must possess excellent organizational skills. They also must:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in data management software
  • Maintain professional interaction with clients
  • Possess excellent written and verbal skills
  • Be familiar with certain court procedures
  • Be proficient typists
  • Work flexible hours and manage their time well
  • Meet deadlines

Education

Most employers seek litigation secretaries who have earned a minimum of a certificate or associate's degree in legal secretary or legal assistant. Through these programs, students gain skills in legal writing and research, as well as office management.

Since litigation secretaries might undertake some paralegal duties, those aspiring to work in this field might broaden their job opportunities by completing a bachelor's program in paralegal studies. Students in these programs, which are offered both on-campus and fully online, build their interviewing, information gathering and dispute resolution skills. They also explore administrative, bankruptcy, civil, criminal, constitutional, family and real estate law.

Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certification for litigation secretaries isn't required, but individuals who obtain credentials might have an advantage when seeking employment (www.bls.gov). The National Association of Legal Assistants offers the Certified Legal Assistant credential, which can be earned by completing a 5-part exam that covers analytical ability, writing skills and legal knowledge.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for all secretaries and administrative assistants was expected to expand 3%, from 2014-2024, though jobs for legal secretaries were predicted to decline by 4% during that same time. In 2015, legal secretaries earned a median annual wage of $43,200, according to the BLS.

Litigation secretaries perform administrative tasks for litigators, and must have strong organization skills and be detail-orientated. Along with a postsecondary degree and certification, most litigation secretaries also possess time management skills, knowledge of data management software, and a familiarity with court procedures. The projected decline in job growth over the next decade should be taken into account if you are considering a career in this field.

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