Along with paralegals and legal assistants, legal secretaries are a key component of the support framework of a law firm. They are responsible for tasks that are standard for any kind of secretary, as well as duties specific to legal work, such as the preparation of appeals, motions, and affidavits. Additionally, many legal secretaries assist with research, help organize exhibits before trial, and also assemble subpoenas, summonses and complaints. Some legal secretaries may also have administrative duties, depending on the size of the firm in which they are employed. Their most important job, however, due to their visibility, is to be the first line of communication between the firm and the public. This means that potential clients will most likely be speaking to a legal secretary before they speak to anyone else. They also communicate with law enforcement, other law firms, and judges. Thus, legal secretaries must maintain a tactful, professional demeanor in a potentially tense atmosphere.
Many legal secretaries possess an associate's degree. Classes and certifications are available to help secretaries get acclimated to legal terminology. In addition, applicants need to be capable typists and comfortable using word-processing applications. Organization skills are also crucial, as legal secretaries schedule meetings and court dates for attorneys.
Many employers use pre-employment tests in order to screen for applicants with those traits. The Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST) can be utilized to evaluate verbal and math skills, as well as grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension abilities, in addition to attention to detail. Criteria Corp also offers specific tests to assess skills relative to the position, such as typing speed and accuracy and knowledge of Microsoft Word. Many employers also will use a personality test in this case, the Employee Personality Profile (EPP) to determine whether someone would be appropriate for an administrative role from a behavioral perspective. The EPP measures twelve different personality traits and contains specific job-fit benchmarks for administrative assistants. When combined, the skills tests and EPP are very valuable tools for hiring managers seeking the most qualified and able legal secretaries.
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Rank in HireSelect:
77 out of 1,100
Median wage in U.S.:
Expected growth rate 2016-2026:
Number employed (2016): 191,200
Education level of Legal Secretaries: