Inside Legal Secretary Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Those With Strong Morals May Have Trouble...
I was surprised at the evil that comes out in divorce cases. The things that a client is capable of that an attorney will overlook to win a case can be appalling." (Legal Secretary; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in South Carolina, female
School: Studied Arts at Trident Tech in South Carolina; completed Certificate degree in 2009

"The Ease Of Legal Language...
I'm surprised by how straightforward highly technical legal language can be. I feel as though the legal profession is so highly regarded, and that the average person looks at blocks of legal text (such as user agreements, statutory provisions, the US federal code, etc.) and immediately shuts down. It really only takes a bit of time to develop the means to effectively read and understand legalize." (Administrative Assistant/Legal Assistant; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Political Science at Northern Illinois University in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"People Do Not Use Common Sense...
I work in a law office that handles criminal and domestic cases. I am surprised at how little of the time most people use common sense." (Administrative Assistant; 2014)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Kentucky, female
School: at Barren County in Kentucky; completed Diploma degree in 1985

"Wide Variety Of Daily Tasks...
For the past 10 years I have been working in research support at academic institutions, primarily in the area of legal. It surprised me how fulfilling it is to do administrative work for researchers who are accomplishing great things - even reviewing simple contracts helps them further their research and potentially do things like cure cancer or other diseases. I am also surprised at the wide variety of tasks I am to complete: some days I am working on state filings and how to do business in different states, some days I am working on getting non-profit organizations declared as such by the IRS, sometimes I am working on internal corporate documents (minutes, consents, bylaws, etc.) and sometimes I am working with external law firms on specific issues (employment, fiduciary duty, etc.)" (Senior Assistant To The General Counsel; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Kansas, female
School: Studied Business - Information Systems at University Of Southern California in California; completed Master degree in 2007

"Criminal Justice Entails More That Processing Guilty People...
The array of occupations available with a criminal justice degree are endless. For example, one could be employed with social services, law enforcement, private investigation, fraud detection and so forth." (Administrative Assistant; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Criminal Justice at Richard Stockton College Of NJ in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Lawyer Jokes Aren't Funny...
I was warned, yet still surprised by how despicable most lawyers really are. Before dealing with lawyers on a constant basis, I thought lawyer jokes were just jokes. They're not. They're absolutely based in reality." (Lawyer; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, male
School: Studied Tax Law at University Of Connecticut in Connecticut; completed Professional degree in 2010

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Legal Secretary: "I love the autonomy that I have in my job. My boss puts a lot of trust in me, and so long as I do a good job I can make my own hours and organize and complete my work in the way I like. The worse part of my job is trying to get a hold of my boss to communicate with him on work-related decisions. He is a nice person, but he is somewhat disorganized and is always on the go. Some weeks I may only see him face-to-face for an hour. This is particularly stressful when a deadline is approaching and I need to get final instructions from my boss and/or the client needs to speak to him directly." (2011)

Legal Secretary: "I've been working at the same law firm for fifteen years and I'm very comfortable there. One thing about my job that I really like is that I pretty much know what to expect every day. I go into the office and do my work until the end of the day. I get started and don't need anyone to tell me what to do, I just know. The only bad thing is since the law firm is small I do the payroll too. With the payroll you have some many Federal and state forms to file it can be a pain." (2010)

Career Background

Legal Secretary

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

If you want to be a successful Administrative Assistant you should have very good people skills as you are constantly dealing with the public. You should also have a vast amount of computer knowledge and proper use of English language." (Administrative Assistant; 2014)

"Ask Yourself Why You Want To Be A Lawyer...
Don't sign up for a career in law because you think you'll be saving the world, or you'll make a ton of money, or you'll "fight for justice" or any other of that nonsense. It's a demanding job that affects real people's lives daily." (Lawyer; 2014)

"Networking Is Key, Start At The Bottom And Meet Everyone...
If you are interested in the law, or in working for research institutions, you should get a 4-year degree and then apply for an entry-level administrative position within a law firm or research institution. You should use the opportunity to evaluate if the experience is for you, to learn more about the business you're in, and to network and make contacts." (Senior Assistant To The General Counsel; 2013)

"Always Plan Ahead...
maintain professionalism no matter what your instincts or morals say. Try to expect the unexpected, then plan for it." (Legal Secretary; 2013)

"Internship In The Criminal Justice System Is Recommended...
It would be a good idea to take a criminal justice internship while attending school. It would assist with familiarization of the processes involved and provide experience in the environment. It would also help you decide on what aspect of the criminal justice system coincides with your interests and specialization." (Administrative Assistant; 2013)

"The Power Of Reading For Pleasure...
If you want to be successful in the legal field, be it as a paralegal, legal assistant, secretary, etc. (careers that do no require a law degree), the more you read for pleasure, the easier your job will be. People who can read complex news stories, or novels, or literary magazines, for example, are much more capable at quickly developing the skills to read legal text, since their minds are much better acclimated to the elevated vocabulary and sentence structures." (Administrative Assistant/Legal Assistant; 2013)

"Considering Specializing...
While being a "secretary" sounds like a low level position, being a legal secretary or legal assistant is a very demanding job that requires someone with a lot of skill and intelligence. Most top lawyers want an assistant who has a college degree, such a B.A. It is also important that you have some knowledge or have taken some courses about the specific area of law you will be dealing with. For example, because my boss does a lot of real estate work, I took a certificate course in real estate law. This is a field in which employers prefers to hire people who are "specialists" in certain areas. So when you are building your work experience, try to pick an area you like and get as much experience working in that area as possible." (Legal Secretary; 2011)

"College Is Key...
Going to college definitely helped me. It made getting a job easier because the college had a placement office. It isn't always a requirement for legal secretary jobs, but I think it helps. The large law firms offer great benefits, but the work load is usually more. I've only worked at a small firm so I can't say for sure which is better. The pay wasn't that much less for a small firm. Going into Boston offered more chances to find employment. There are lots of law firms, small and large in a big city, and I found it worth the train ride in. When I was first looking I thought close would be better, but the benefits were much greater in the city." (Legal Secretary; 2010)