How To Become a Legal Secretary

If you are a people person with excellent organizational skills and an interest in the field of law, you may be wondering how to become a legal secretary. Law firms are busy places. A legal secretary is the person who performs the daily administration undertakings necessary to keep business flowing smoothly.

Like secretaries in other fields, legal secretaries play an important part in the operation of the office. They interact with a law firm’s clients and prospective clients in person, over the phone, or through mail or email. Legal secretaries draft, proofread, send and file correspondence and documents. They direct mail and email messages to the proper recipient and schedule appointments. Part of a legal secretary’s job may include handling company forms, databases, spreadsheets and other electronic documents. They must be proficient at sending faxes, handling company phone calls professionally, making presentations and setting up videoconference equipment as necessary. Acquiring office supplies may also fall under a legal secretary’s job description.

Additionally, legal secretaries are expected to perform many tasks specific to the field of law. With supervision of a legal professional, such as a lawyer or paralegal, they may compose legal documents such as subpoenas, summonses, motions and complaints. At times, they must research legal information to assist with a case. In the United States, legal secretaries differ from paralegals in that their work primarily consists of administrative work, whereas paralegals perform legal research and background work that assists the attorneys who actually practice law. Essentially, legal secretaries serve in an administrative support role, but they must have proficient knowledge of legal terminology.

Legal secretaries need a number of administrative skills, including competence in using computer software, command of the English language (including proper grammar), and typing skills. The organization Legal Secretaries International, Inc., estimates that most law officers prefer legal secretaries who can type between 65 and 80 words per minute. As an employee in a law office, they are expected to uphold clients’ confidentiality at all times. Earning a degree is not necessary for many legal secretary jobs. However, a number of colleges are now offering certificate programs to not only prepare legal secretaries for their daily administrative duties but also teach them the legal procedures and terms they need to know to succeed in a fast-paced law firm environment. Legal secretaries with five years of experience can seek the Legal Secretaries International’s designation of Certified Legal Secretary Specialist in a number of several disciplines of law.

The median annual salary for legal secretaries was $41,500 as of 2010, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. These wages are noticeably higher than the $30,530 median annual salary that medical secretaries earned and the $30,830 that secretaries in non-specialized fields earned. Do you enjoy interacting with others, have administrative skills and want to develop a better understanding of legal terminology? If so, knowing how to become a legal secretary may be your first step to beginning a satisfying new career.

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