National Avg. Salary$52,390 More Salary Data →
Job Growth Rate7.6% More Growth Data →
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Legal assistants and secretaries perform administrative support for law firms and lawyers. They take incoming calls to the law office, schedule appointments between clients and lawyers, and schedule sessions in courts. They may also handle all office paperwork and filing responsibilities.
What is a Legal Assistant or Secretary?
The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in legal assistant or secretary roles:
- Serve as the face of the office to clients, greeting clients when they arrive, answering incoming phone calls, and scheduling appointments with lawyers on behalf of clients
- Work with court administrative personnel to schedule hearings, trials, jury selection, and other court sessions on behalf of lawyers
- Manage office paperwork, including client files, evidence storage, and research paperwork
- File legal documents with courts or other legal agencies
- Handle office billing, creating and sending bills to clients for services performed, and processing payments
A Day in the Life
Legal assistants and secretaries manage the front offices at law firms and lawyer’s offices. One of the most important tasks of a legal assistant is to manage the calendars of the lawyers they support. This requires scheduling new and existing client meetings, setting aside time for court appearances and trials, and setting up time with judges, opposing attorneys, witnesses, and clients. This requires a lot of scheduling and rescheduling work to ensure lawyers can complete all tasks without being overbooked.
Legal secretaries are also commonly responsible for managing and organizing all office paperwork. They inform new clients of the paperwork they’ll need to bring to the office, and collect that paperwork upon arrival. They ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly and accessible when needed. They also process evidence and research documents and ensure these are safely filed until needed. They may also perform work to bill clients and collect overdue payments when clients are in default on fees owed to the lawyer.
Legal assistants and secretaries must be effective communicators and negotiators because they frequently must find mutually beneficial agreements between multiple parties. They may need to work to schedule a time for a hearing that meets the needs of a lawyer, an opposing lawyer, a judge, and clients on both sides of an issue or disagreement. This can require scheduling and rescheduling appointments, so the assistant must be prepared to negotiate times effectively and with grace.
Typical Work Schedule
Most legal assistants and legal secretaries work full-time schedules during normal business hours. Overtime may be required on occasion during busy periods to ensure all clients are handled and all work is completed by deadlines.
Most legal assistants and secretaries are employed by lawyers and law firms. A few may also work for government agencies, and some also work in the finance or insurance industries.
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How To Become a Legal Assistant or Secretary
It’s possible to become a legal assistant or secretary with only a high school diploma. To succeed in the field with no formal postsecondary education usually requires professional experience working as a receptionist or administrative assistant in an office environment. Lawyers and law firms will look for candidates with experience managing leader schedules, setting up appointments, and operating typical office equipment like fax machines, computers, copiers and printers, and filing systems.
Conversely, to skip the years of experience as a general receptionist or administrative assistant, you can choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. They type of bachelor’s degree you earn is flexible, but majors in English, political science, business, or communications are common. With a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to find work as a legal assistant or secretary even without prior experience in the field, though relevant internships working with law firms can increase your competitiveness for open roles.
Another possible approach is to pursue a college certificate or associate’s degree in paralegal studies. These programs typically last between one and two years and are focused on teaching students about basic operations and functions within law firms. With a certificate or degree in paralegal studies, you may be able to find work without a bachelor’s degree and without previous experience, and you may also be able to move up into a paralegal role after gaining some experience as a legal assistant.
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With professional experience as a receptionist or administrative assistant, aspiring legal assistants and secretaries may be able to find work in the field with only a high school diploma.
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Legal Assistant or Secretary Salary Data
We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.
National Annual Salary
National Hourly Wage
How do Legal Assistant or Secretary salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Legal Assistant or Secretary's can make an average annual salary of $52,390, or $25 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $37,880 or $18 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.
Salary Rankings And Facts
#362 Nationally for All Careers
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Highest Education Among Legal Assistant or Secretary
- 2.7% Doctorate
- 4.9% Masters
- 37.5% Bachelors
- 18.5% Associates
- 24.1% College
- 11.2% High School
- 1% Less than High School
Job Growth Projections and Forecast
2014 Total Jobs279,500
2024 Est. Jobs300,800
Job Growth Rate7.6%
Est. New Jobs21,300
How does Legal Assistant or Secretary job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 21,300 jobs for a total of 300,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 7.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.
Growth Rankings And Facts
#294 Nationally for All Careers