Legal secretaries work assisting lawyers with various administrative tasks. This may include locating information needed for a specific case or helping to prepare and file legal documents. Some of their job responsibilities may be similar to those of a paralegal or legal assistant. Here are a few common job duties for those with legal secretary careers according to information listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Exercise a working knowledge of legal terminology and procedures.
- Help to prepare and file legal documents.
- Preform clerical duties such as drafting correspondence and answering telephones.
- Draft and send out summonses, complaints, motions, and subpoenas.
More experienced legal secretaries may also assist in legal research. Potential employers could include law firms, government agencies, or corporations with their own legal departments. With further study, legal secretaries may become paralegals.
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Becoming a Legal Secretary
Beyond a high school diploma, those interested in filling jobs as legal secretaries will typically only need a certificate or associate degree in legal assisting. Most entry level legal secretary jobs will also want someone with strong communication skills and a working knowledge of computers and office procedures. These type of training programs can be found at a number of community colleges and technical schools across the country.
Legal secretaries will need to understand basic industry terminology in order to prepare legal documents and perform other key duties. Though it is not mandatory, many employers may look for candidates who have earned certification through the National Association of Legal Secretaries. Below are a few courses you might expect to see in a certificate or associate degree program for prospective legal secretaries:
- Keyboarding and Word Processing
- Records Management
- Legal Terminology
- Law Office Operations and Management
In addition to general certification, the association Legal Secretaries International also offers specialized certification in areas such as intellectual property, civil litigation, probate, criminal law, and business law. This type of specialized credential requires five years of experience and the successful completion of a written exam. In some cases, these requirements may vary. As they become more experienced, legal secretaries may also pursue additional training to become paralegals.