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What is a Legal Secretary?

Legal secretaries are much like other secretaries or administrative assistants, with one big difference—they have a number of specialized duties, intrinsic to the legal profession, to fulfill. But in addition to these duties, legal secretaries prepare a number of specialized documents for the lawyer or legal department. These legal documents usually have stringent formatting requirements, so a legal secretary must have some knowledge of these formatting regulations as well as some legal knowledge. Some of the legal documents that they prepare include:

  • Complaints
  • Summonses
  • Subpoenas
  • Motions
  • Responses

In addition to preparing legal documents, legal secretaries often help with research and assume some fact-checking responsibilities. It’s important to note however that the legal secretary job description can change from office to office.

Advantages of Being a Legal Secretary

Although legal secretaries have a lot of responsibilities, they also have a lot of advantages. Their jobs are challenging but never short on unique and often interesting cases or clients. While legal secretary salary rates vary from state to state, most find that working at a larger company or firm nets a more substantial income than a smaller office might yield. Many legal secretaries also find the position conducive to advancement. As legal secretaries gain experience they become more versed in not only legal terminology and statutes but the inner-workings of a law office as well. This makes them exponentially valuable with every passing month on the job. A legal secretary can eventually become a paralegal or even an attorney with the proper amount of training and education.

Becoming a Legal Secretary

Although it is possible to become a legal secretary without specialized schooling, your best chance of getting a good job is to obtain formal education in this field. Fortunately, there are a lot of educational opportunities for legal secretaries.

  • Legal secretary diploma programs are offering at vocation and technical schools. These programs can be completed within one year.
  • Associate’s degree in either Legal Office Administration or in Legal Studies. These are 2-year programs that can help you to advance in the field later on.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies or other applicable major. Many employers today are requiring that their legal secretaries have the minimum of a bachelor’s degree. These 4-year programs can help you with future advancements opportunities. Master’s and PdD in majors such as criminal justice, justice administration, and Master of Laws (law degree).

The coursework of legal secretaries varies quite a bit depending upon the degree program and the school. But you can expect to take courses similar to:

  • Legal Ethics
  • American Government
  • American Jurisprudence
  • Legal Procedures-Litigation
  • Criminal Law
  • Software Applications
  • Family Law
  • Legal Terminology
  • Legal Contacts
  • Legal Documents
  • Estates and Probate

Visit our legal secretary training page for more information on what to expect from most programs as well as a list of some of the more popular programs enrolling now.