If you are interested in a career in law, but are not sure if you want to commit to attending to law school, a career as a legal secretary may be the ideal role for you. Legal secretaries are also known as legal assistants, executive assistants and administrative assistants. Working as a legal secretary is an interesting career and there is a wide range of areas of law that you can work in. This is a wonderful career opportunity with room to advance as well as an excellent foundation for a legal career.
Job Duties of a Legal Secretary
The job duties of a legal secretary vary depending on your skill level. Duties may include preparing correspondence, typing legal documents, which includes motions, pleads, briefs and subpoenas. As a legal secretary you may also be responsible for assisting with legal research, communicating with attorneys, including opposing counsel, experts and vendors. As skill levels progress, you may be expected to become familiar with court filing procedures, court rules and arranging the filing of documents with the court.
Typical Skills of a Legal Secretary
As a legal secretary you must be proficient in typing. The number of words per minute vary from one law firm to another; however, the average is typically 65 to 80 words per minute. The following group of skills are also important.
Computer skills: including knowledge about various software programs, such as spreadsheets and PowerPoint.
Grammar and Writing: you should proficient in the use of language and able to draft well-written correspondence.
Interpersonal skills: an important part of the job as you will be interacting with clients, co-workers, attorneys and court officials.
Confidentiality: critical as a legal secretary, you must understand the importance of maintaining the clients confidences.
Legal Secretary Degree Programs & Education
Programs to become a legal secretary are frequently offered by technical schools, community colleges and universities. In most situations a program can be completed in two years or less. If you prefer to work in the field while earning your degree as a legal secretary, certifications are also offered in many technical and community colleges. In most situations, in order to earn a certification you will need to pass a three-part examination offered by the National Association for Legal Professionals.
Skilled secretaries in the legal field are an important and integral part of any legal team and presently the services of legal secretaries are in high-demand. The skills that legal teams look for in a legal secretary include legal, technical and people skills. You can expect to work in a field where your people skills will enable you to work effectively with the general public, lawyers, staff, judges and clients. Trained secretaries of law are relied upon to prepare legal correspondence, motions, subpoenas and summonses, enabling attorneys and paralegals within law firms to focus on effectively preparing cases.
Typical Courses to Help You Become a Legal Secretary
You can easily become a secretary in the field of law through any school offering a certification program. A certification program can benefit both the new secretary of law and the experienced legal secretaries that would like to improve their skills, enabling them to work more efficiently within the law office environment. You can earn a certificate in the classroom or online.
What You Will Learn as a Legal Secretary
While learning how to handle day-to-day legal operations, you’ll also study the role of the paralegal and be prepared to learn how to communicate effectively in any legal environment, how to analyze theoretical and practical concepts of law, evaluate legal sources, conduct legal research and how to produce written legal correspondence. Other topics that you can expect to learn include legal terminology, legal processes, filing procedures, billing and accounting and records management, etc. With a certificate, you’ll be provided with the leading edge towards becoming the highly-trained secretary that law firms rely upon.
Possible Career Paths for a Legal Secretary
Upon completion of a certification course, you can expect to attain administrative employment through various entry-level career choices. Entry-level duties may include answering phones and making copies; while more advanced duties may include report drafting, research and data reviews. Once you gain experience as a secretary of law, you can then move on to career advancement through further education into the field of paralegal or apply to law school. As a legal secretary, you are not just limited to the secretarial duties in the law field. You can easily work other secretarial careers such as office secretarial work, medical secretarial work, education secretarial work, and business secretarial work, etc.