What Does a Legal Secretary Do?
A legal secretary fills a unique role in the world of law firms and legal departments — something of a hybrid position between that of a traditional secretary and a legal assistant or paralegal.
Legal secretaries perform essential secretarial and administrative duties, like arranging meetings and conferences, taking phone calls, and maintaining office inventory. They also possess a substantial amount of legal know-how so they can complete legal-specific tasks to assist with cases and litigation.
A legal secretary can do everything from preparing legal papers, correspondence, and reports to helping assemble trial and presentation materials, and transcribing legal dictation. They also assist with legal research. A legal secretary is a versatile and crucial member of a legal team.
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National Average Salary
Legal secretary salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Legal Secretary is:
Legal Secretary Job Descriptions
It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a legal secretary. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.
[Your Company Name] is searching for an experienced legal secretary. We are in need of a remarkably responsible candidate with exceptional organizational skills and communication skills, who is available to work full time. A legal secretary is responsible for preparing court paperwork, transcribing and proofreading legal documents, collecting documents, and managing records and calendars making sure everything is in order for the attorney. You may need to have an associate’s degree in legal studies or a related field, with the ability to have phenomenal typing skills. Successful legal secretaries have excellent oral and written communication skills, are detail-oriented, have professional mannerisms, work well under pressure, and are familiar with legal terminology. If you have the experience and the skill sets needed for this position then a secretarial position at our company could be the right fit.
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Enter and process docket cases, notices of hearings, postponements, reports, and other data into computer files
- Transcribe legal dictation, meeting minutes, conferences, and interviews
- Log and schedule administrative hearings
- Maintain attorney calendars
- Prepare trial notebooks, exhibits, documents, and other materials for case presentation
- Receive visitors, answer phones, schedule meetings, and perform general secretarial duties
Education and experience
This position requires an associate degree in law or a related field; a bachelor’s degree is preferable, as is some law firm experience.
Required skills and qualifications
- Highly organized
- Skilled at multitasking
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Can work with minimal guidance and oversight
- Proficient in MS Office Suite applications
- Knowledge of the law and law firm processes a plus
- Associate’s degree in legal studies or a related field
- Paralegal certification
- Strong interpersonal skills
To be successful in this role, you should possess an in-depth knowledge of legal procedures and terminology.
- Provide secretarial support to one or more lawyers at the firm
- Edit and proofread all legal documents
- Maintain attorney calendar by scheduling conferences, depositions, and meetings
- Welcome clients and conduct initial screenings of new clients
- Go to court proceedings and type minutes
- Organize all legal documents and ensure they are updated
- Ensure all court documents are in order and filed before deadlines
- Answer emails and phone calls, and when necessary, redirect calls, etc.
- Research and authenticate important case information
- Prepare different legal documents including appeals, motions, and petitions
- High school diploma or equivalent qualification required
- Associate degree in legal studies or related field
- A minimum of 5 years experience in a similar role
- In-depth knowledge of legal documents and terminology
- Skilled with MS Office
- Excellent time-management and organizational skills
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- (State) and (State) experience preferred
The Legal Secretary will perform a variety of secretarial duties for attorneys to whom assigned according to established policies and procedures. The Legal Secretary is assigned to assist several attorneys in a specific practice group and will support 5-9 attorneys. This position will be responsible for preparing practice-specific forms, updating electronic and paper files, preparing and filing court documents and e-filings, updating attorney calendars as needed and delegating work to appropriate departments, and completing other tasks as assigned in a timely and accurate manner.
- Delegate attorney work to appropriate departments
- Prepare practice-specific documents, paper court filings and e-filings, and update electronic pleading/correspondence/closing folders
- Screen telephone calls and take messages for attorneys when requested. Receive clients and visitors. Maintain good public relations with clients. Observe confidentiality of attorney-client relationship
- Read, sort, and date incoming mail when requested. Ensure that outgoing mail is delivered timely and specify types of delivery
- Schedule and calendar meetings and deadlines for attorneys
Knowledge, skills and abilities required
- Excellent spelling and proofreading skills. Typing (45+ wpm)
- Effective delegation skills
- Knowledge of court filing procedures, including electronic filing
- Ability to organize, prioritize, and produce quality work
- Self-motivated and flexible in order to complete assignments in a timely manner
Knowledge, skills and abilities desired
- MS Excel
- Intapp Flow
- iManage 10/FileSite
- Chrome River
- PDF conversions and manipulations
Education and experience
- High school diploma or equivalent required
- 3-5 years of experience in similar field required. Previous law firm experience preferred
- Update schedule with client interactions
- Provide support for several attorneys
- Transfer legal correspondence to clients
- Handle assigned files and deliver legal services under attorney supervision
- Conduct administrative tasks as necessary
- Maintain and improve calendars and billing sheets
- Strong communication skills are essential to communicate with clients in an effective and efficient manner
- Utilize comprehensive knowledge of legal procedures
- Provide assistance to attorneys in the effective and efficient resolution of files
- Excellent communication and organizational skills
- Knowledgeable in local jurisdictional and federal court rules and procedures
- Able to manage time well
- Possessing an understanding of word processing and spreadsheets is desired
- Knowledgeable about and experienced with legal correspondence and court filing procedures is a plus
- Proficiency in database management
- Practical knowledge of travel arrangements
- Well-founded grasp of conference room setup and cleanup
- General familiarity with travel arrangements
- Command of Draft Pleadings
- Comprehensive knowledge of Draft Legal Documents
- Foundational knowledge in Schedule Appointments
- Proficiency in Draft Letters
- Proven knowledge of billing software for attorneys
- Schedule Depositions experience
- 3+ years of prior relevant experience
Candidate Certifications to Look For
- Professional Legal Secretary (PLS). Obtaining this certification proves that candidates are exceptional in the field and have a high level of professionalism when it comes to being a legal secretary. It shows that they have the office skills needed and professionalism, they are motivated, and they know how to prepare legal documents.
- Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant (CP/CLA). This certification is earned by paralegals who have already passed the certified paralegal exam. It is recognized by the American Bar Association and State Bars.
- Word 2010 Certification. This certification is an important one to have as most of the work is done on a computer. This certification proves that candidates can work at least 80 percent of the features Microsoft Office Word 2010 has to offer.
- Specialist Certificate: Legal (SC:L). This certification proves that candidates are familiar with legal settings and understand the terminology used in the legal system.
Sample Interview Questions
- It is key as a legal secretary that you be organized. On a scale from 1 through 10 how do you rate yourself?
- How do you decide which tasks to prioritize?
- Do you have the ability to multitask?
- How do you handle situations when a client is difficult?
- What do you do to ensure your work is accurate?
- What steps do you take to make sure you are protecting your client’s confidentiality?
- What do you do when you have multiple deadlines on the same day?
- Has there ever been a time when you had technical difficulties at an inconvenient time? How did you handle that situation?
- What’s your experience with subpoenas?
- What form of communication do you prefer: email, phone, or in person? Why?
- What experience do you have working with attorneys and judges?
- What is your time management like?
- What area of law interests you the most?