Legal secretaries are a very necessary part of any legal practice or government law office. Their duties include preparing correspondence and legal papers such as summonses, complaints, motions, responses, and subpoenas under the supervision of an attorney or paralegal. They are often involved in a variety of legal research including reviewing legal journals, verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs. They also undertake some of the normal functions of a secretary such as scheduling meetings and appointments, managing projects and providing information via telephone, postal mail and email.
Legal secretaries usually undergo specialist training before applying for their first post, and as the role of secretary is changing due to the advent of new technology, it becomes more usual for secretaries to have a degree. There are many specialist courses available, giving training in legal secretarial duties, and subjects studied include office skills and keyboard training, training in specialist legal word processing packages, office administration, legal research techniques, legal vocabulary and some knowledge of the law.
Legal secretaries can acquire certification as a legal secretary, gaining the designation ALS (Accredited Legal Secretary), and later advanced certification with PLS (Professional Legal Secretary). They can also gain their CLSS (Certified Legal Secretary Specialist) after 5 years of law-related experience.
Average earnings are in the region of $35,000, with top secretaries earning as much as $51,000. Prospects are good for well-trained legal secretaries with good skills in office technology, especially as the job expands and allows more exciting and interesting work.