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A legal secretary plays a crucial role in the everyday workings of a law office. These are the people who take on the seemingly unimportant day-to-day clerical tasks that are in fact the keys to any law office's success. Legal secretaries are also sometimes referred to as legal assistants, executive assistants or administrative assistants. It is not uncommon for the most experienced and high performing legal secretaries to go on to be promoted to paralegal positions within a law firm.
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The role of the legal secretary is to support the lawyers and paralegals in a law office or organization. As legal secretaries tend to posses a specialized skill set across various computer programs, the tasks for which they are responsible can range from more traditional secretarial jobs such as answering phones and taking messages to creating detailed spreadsheets or preparing law documents.
Legal secretaries carry out a wide range of administrative work within a law office or organization. Lawyers and paralegals do not always have the time or know-how to work with computer technologies; this is where legal secretaries are needed. The technologies they have mastered include computer programs involving word processing, creating spreadsheets, preparing all kinds of presentations, managing documents, managing hours and billing of employees within the office, keeping a detailed and organized calendar, transcribing documents or recorded conversations, desktop publishing, videoconferencing, and so on.
Legal secretaries must also interact with all kinds of people on a regular basis. The kinds of communication involved in a day's work involve face-to-face, phone and e-mail communication, and even video conferencing with clients, lawyers, paralegals, opposing counsel, city officials and more.
Legal secretaries are also responsible for a great deal of writing. They are often the people who prepare first drafts of correspondence or memos, and also often proofread legal documents including briefs and pleadings. They also deal with project management, keeping paper and electronic files in order, keeping track of many deadlines, setting up appointments, and maintaining a detailed calendar.
Most legal secretaries work in law offices. However, they are also found in government agencies, corporate legal departments of companies and public interest firms. In all of these workplaces where the law is the order of the day, people are working quickly and efficiently around the clock. Legal secretaries can expect a fast-paced, high-stress work environment with firm deadlines and no time to waste. These people are up for that challenge, thriving in the environment and ready to excel in a challenging profession.
It is also not uncommon to work late or abnormal hours to make sure all paperwork is prepared and ready to go for a big case. The workload depends on what clients may need, so it is not uncommon for many employees in a law office to work late in order to accommodate a certain client or case.