what is a legal secretary?
As a legal secretary, you are a vital legal team member since you ensure the department runs smoothly. You perform administrative duties and support lawyers with legal research and schedules. Most legal secretaries possess various skills since the role involves traditional administrative duties like answering phones, creating detailed reports and conversing with expert witnesses. With the complexity of your duties, you should be conversant with legal terms, procedures and documentation. You should also be highly organised and attentive to details to perform various assignments and meet deadlines.
what does a legal secretary do?
As a legal secretary, your work involves a lot of writing, from transcribing meetings to correspondence, memos and legal paperwork. You also proofread legal documents before mailing them and filing clients' paperwork.You work in a law firm or government agency as a legal secretary. Some legal secretaries work for judges and attorneys in the public sector. You also work for companies with legal departments like multinational corporations, mining companies and media firms in the corporate sector.available jobs in legal
average legal secretary salary
The median salary of a legal secretary is $51,000 per year. Entry-level legal secretaries have minimal experience and transferrable skills and take home a salary of $44,000 annually. Top-level legal secretaries with many years of experience perform complex roles without supervision. Hence, their remuneration package is $75,000 per year. Aside from the base salaries, some employers provide incentives like bonuses and overtime pay to employees.
what factors affect the salary of a legal secretary?
The remuneration package of a legal secretary relies on the employer and qualifications. Working for the government or public sector limits your earnings depending on your rank and the government institution. For instance, legal secretaries working for judges are likely to earn more due to the complexity of the role. However, the median remuneration package is still lower than the private sector. Salaries in the private sector depend on the company size. Suppose you work for a relatively new firm. In that case, you are likely to earn less than someone working in a multinational company.
Large cities like Auckland have a high demand for legal secretaries due to the high number of law firms or private companies. The demand, and the high cost of living, increase your remuneration prospects.
types of legal secretaries
Some of the legal secretaries include:
- litigation assistant: as a litigation assistant, you provide support in various realms of law where legal action has been taken. That means you may work in bankruptcy, intellectual property and personal injury cases. Your job is to gather facts relevant to the case by interviewing witnesses and finding evidence to support your client's claims. Sometimes you write press releases to control the public perception of a case.
- judicial legal secretary: your job is to assist judges with administrative work. You maintain their schedule and organise legal documents for various cases. The job also involves transcribing dictations and researching precedence and application of laws.
- corporate legal secretary: when you are a corporate legal secretary, you work for a specific company and ensure they don't break any laws. You assist the legal team with writing contracts and staying up-to-date with the changing regulations.
- criminal legal secretary: your job as the criminal legal secretary is to help lawyers with criminal cases. You organise discovery files and research loopholes in the prosecution case to assist your client. You also accompany lawyers to court to ensure they have the documents for the case.
working as a legal secretary
Working as a legal secretary allows you to assist various lawyers and judges. Here is a look at legal secretaries' specific duties, work environments and career prospects:
education and skills
You don't require educational skills in a legal background to become a legal secretary. You can join the profession from an admin assistant role. However, the following academic qualifications improve your employment opportunities:
- education: to undertake qualifications in legal studies, you should complete your Year 12 or have at least a year of vocational experience. Some legal secretaries get a Certificate in legal services from vocational education training. To further your career, you should undertake a diploma in paralegal services or a certificate in paralegal practice.
- work experience: it is important to have work experience in administrative or secretarial duties. You should also consider internships to boost your experience in the legal field.
legal secretary skills and competencies
As a legal secretary, the following skills help you excel:
- technology skills: lawyers and attorneys rely on tech-savvy legal secretaries to organise computer files, prepare presentations, audit timesheets, write spreadsheets and type documents. You also manage the software applications used to manage a law office.
- interpersonal skills: you interact daily with paralegals, clients and opposing counsel. Hence, communication and interpersonal skills are vital. Interpersonal skills help you listen to others and collaborate with them. The skills also promote emotional intelligence and improve formality.
- organisation skills: as a legal secretary, you are the right-hand person of an attorney or lawyer. You need organisational skills to run a law office smoothly. For instance, you manage electronic files, maintain calendars, schedule meetings and organise events.
- transcription skills: as a legal secretary, you require transcription skills to excel in your role. You require fast typing speed and active listening skills to comprehend voice dictation.
FAQs about working as a legal secretary
Here are the most asked questions about working as a legal secretary: