Exploring this Job
Does a career as a legal secretary sound interesting? If so, suggest a career day at your school (if one isn't already scheduled) where professionals from a variety of careers give presentations. Be sure to let your career counselor know that you would like to have a legal secretary come as a guest speaker. Or you can ask your political science or government teacher to take your class on a field trip to a law library. Many law offices hire "runners" to deliver and file documents. Check with local law offices and offer your services for the summer or after school. You may also find it helpful to contact a local law firm and ask a legal secretary there if you can conduct an information interview.
Legal secretaries must be able to handle all the duties of a general secretary plus all the specific responsibilities that come with working for a lawyer. Although every law office or firm may vary in the exact duties required for the position, in general, most legal secretaries spend their time managing information that comes in and goes out of the law office. A typical day as a legal secretary begins with setting priorities. Next, the work is addressed according to priority. Work can include any number of things ranging from attending legal meetings to filling out trial and courtroom requests.
Legal secretaries may type letters and legal documents, such as subpoenas, appeals, and motions; handle incoming and outgoing mail; maintain a detailed filing system; and deliver legal documents to the court. Besides these duties, legal secretaries spend much of their time making appointments with clients, and dealing with client questions. The legal secretary is a sort of personal assistant to one or more lawyers as well, and must maintain the calendars and schedules for the office. Always knowing where an attorney can be found is an important part of the process.
Legal secretaries are also called upon to conduct research for the cases that are current within the office. They may research and write legal briefs on a topic or case that is relevant to the lawyer's current cases. Legal secretaries spend many hours researching cases in law libraries, public libraries, and on the Internet. Part of this research includes scouring legal journals and magazines looking for relevant laws and courtroom decisions that may affect the clientele.
Legal secretaries are also record keepers. They help lawyers find information such as employment, medical, and criminal records. They also keep records from all previous clients and court cases for future use. Legal secretaries must also track and use various forms, such as trial request, client application, and accident report forms.