The Legal Secretary Career

A legal secretary career can be full of craziness! You’ll have good times and bad times as is the nature with most careers. The difference, however, is whether or not you enjoy your work and the people you support.

Legal secretaries are unlike administrative or executive secretaries. They are differentiated by the knowledge they possess of legal procedures. They understand how to accomplish an electronic filing with the court, for example. They know how appellate briefs are to be submitted to the court so that they are not rejected possibly causing the filing to be considered late.

To begin with, no formal training is required. You won’t earn a degree from legal secretary school.

You will, however, possess some of the following...

  • knowledge of various Microsoft Office software,
  • be Internet savvy,
  • great oral and written communication,
  • a problem solver,
  • quick learner,
  • excellent proof reading skills, and
  • terrific time management skills.

You’ll do all of this with great focus and composure as the clock ticks away and your copier jams, the courier gets stuck in traffic and your computer refuses to save any of your work for a filing that must get out today!

Yes, you’ll have good times.

You may start as a junior legal secretary when just out of high school. There is the glaring discrepancy between the attorneys you support (some will be graduates of Yale, Harvard, Stanford or some other elite university) and you high school diploma.

Clearly, educating yourself is important and necessary. It will also increase your value to the firm.

The more education you earn, the more opportunity you will have to position yourself to become a paralegal if that’s your interest. You can also become an office manager and work on human resources issues, payroll, benefits and information technology.

All of these new skills increase your market value and can pull you up out of the legal secretary pool and into a more dynamic, challenging and financially rewarding career.

Working with wonderful people is its own reward. A great boss can be hard, sometimes impossible to come by, and they are worth every penny when you do find that connection.

Attorneys rely heavily on their legal secretaries. A legal secretary career means you're the juggler, the scribe, the order-picker-upper, the organizer, the deadline “tickler” and the glue that makes everything come together and stick.

It’s therefore, quite important to have a great working relationship with the attorneys you support. They want the same, too.

You can earn decent pay as a legal secretary. In California, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average salary for a legal secretary is $51,290 or $24.66 an hour. If you specialize in corporate or patent law you’ll earn more upwards of $20,000 extra annually. You will also get bonuses and vacation time.

Altogether, the legal secretary career is what you make of it. Educate yourself. Improve your skills and let your bosses know you want to be the best at what you do. Find ways to make their lives easier, less complicated and you’ll be on your way to a very rewarding career.

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