Legal SecretaryJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

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.  

Sample job description

[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

Preferred qualifications

  • Associate’s degree in legal studies or a related field
  • Paralegal certification
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a legal secretary is $62,500 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$62,150$84,100
Los Angeles, California$70,150$94,900
Denver, Colorado$58,450$79,050
Washington, DC$71,200$96,300
Miami, Florida$58,150$78,700
Orlando, Florida$53,650$72,600
Tampa, Florida$54,200$73,300
Atlanta, Georgia$56,850$76,900
Chicago, Illinois$65,350$88,400
Boston, Massachusetts$70,650$95,600
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$56,300$76,200
New York City, New York$74,400$100,650
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$60,550$81,950
Dallas, Texas$58,950$79,800
Houston, Texas$58,450$79,050
Seattle, Washington$68,000$92,000
National Average$53,150$71,900

Typical work environment

Legal secretaries spend most of their time working in an office environment at a law firm office working on legal documents for the attorneys. There can be special situations where you will need to travel outside of the office to gather information needed for the attorney or travel to trials or dispositions. This environment can sometimes be extremely stressful, so you will need to work well under those circumstances. Secretaries work the regular full-time hours and can work extra hours if new information comes in at the last minute. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a legal secretary are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours can be necessary, especially when nearing a deadline. 

Available certifications

Not every legal secretary will need a certification, but it can help you stand out from the rest of the applicants. Here are popular legal secretary certifications that you can receive:

  • Professional Legal Secretary (PLS). Obtaining this certification proves that you are exceptional in the field and have a high level of professionalism when it comes to being a legal secretary. It shows that you have the office skills needed, professionalism, you are motivated, and you 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 you 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 you are familiar with legal settings and understand the terminology used in the legal system.

Career path

The legal secretary position generally falls between traditional secretary (performing essential administrative duties), and paralegal (using knowledge of the legal system to perform similar responsibilities). It entails first obtaining an associate degree or higher (preferably in law or a related field). Beyond that, legal secretary certification programs are offered in many places and can help progress this career path. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 23-1011

2020 Employment345,600
Projected Employment in 2030387,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift41,400 increase

According to the Center for Advanced Legal Studies, a growing focus is tech savviness in the paralegal and legal secretary positions. Unsurprisingly, with the growth of e-discovery, among other aspects, law firms and other legal employers are looking for staff with strong technology skills. 

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?
  • Why are you choosing to leave your current job?
  • What was the best part of your job? What was your least favorite part?
  • What do you do to ensure your work is accurate?
  • What is your typing speed?
  • 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?
  • Why should we hire you?

Legal Secretary Jobs in Ashburn

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