Becoming a Legal Secretary – Career Guide

If working in a law firm is your passion, then finding a career as a Legal Secretary may be just what you need.

A Legal Secretary is an integral aspect of any legal firm, and in this career, you will be working with lawyers, paralegals, and clients without the need to go through rigorous schooling.

While working as a Legal Secretary, you’ll get to learn the basics of law and know legal requirements all while answering phones, taking notes, and guiding clients to the appropriate attorney.

As stated on ONET Online, Legal Secretaries perform secretarial duties using legal terminology, procedures, and documents.

They also prepare legal papers and correspondence, such as complaints, motions, summonses, and subpoenas.

Finally, they may also assist the lawyers in legal research and arrange meetings between the attorney and potential witnesses for some cases.

Generally, they help run the law office and ensure that the services provided to each of the clients are both efficient and complete.

Job Description

While some may consider a Legal Secretary to be a paralegal, these are two separate entities and should be treated as such.

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As a Legal Secretary, you won’t need to go through years of schooling to do your job.

Instead, you will provide administrative assistance to a law firm, where your duties will consist of:

  • Scheduling
  • Calendar management
  • Billing and finance
  • Handling phone calls
  • Interacting with clients
  • Photocopying
  • Scanning
  • Faxing
  • Maintaining office equipment
  • Coordinating meetings

When you work as a Legal Secretary, it is up to you to keep the law firm running smoothly and provide support to help attorneys and clients alike.

Those who have a knack for organization and can multitask will fit best in this role.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2022, there were 159,940 legal secretaries across the United States with an annual average salary of $54,180 and an hourly wage of $26.05 per hour.

On average, a Legal Secretary will make about $54,180 per year in the United States.

Those who work in larger law firms or who have more experience can make up to $81,400 per year.

If you are just beginning in this career, you should expect to have a salary closer to $31,240 to start out.

Legal Secretaries who work for the local government may make a higher salary than those who work in law firms.

Some of the top-paying industries for Legal Secretaries are media, telecommunications, oil and gas extraction, and scientific research and development.

These industries could pay anywhere from $70,000 to $81,000 per year.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
District of Columbia2,250$83,500$40.14$106,390$42,900
New Hampshire510$53,180$25.57$79,470$39,100
New Jersey4,890$61,000$29.33$83,290$39,270
New Mexico1,050$44,000$21.15$59,820$32,030
New York13,280$64,450$30.98$100,810$35,460
North Carolina3,840$42,670$20.51$73,750$24,960
North Dakota310$48,970$23.54$55,640$38,770
Rhode Island610$56,570$27.20$78,410$43,350
South Carolina1,880$40,890$19.66$57,570$26,560
South Dakota630$38,640$18.58$47,760$30,810
West Virginia1,310$42,020$20.20$55,610$27,900
Puerto Rico3,240$29,660$14.26$38,050$18,180
Virgin Islands110$45,690$21.97$50,920$38,900

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $83,500.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • District of Columbia - $83,500
  • Massachusetts - $65,690
  • New York - $64,450
  • Colorado - $63,340
  • Maryland - $62,690
  • Minnesota - $62,070
  • New Jersey - $61,000
  • Illinois - $60,940
  • California - $60,500
  • Washington - $59,160
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, OCC Code 43-6012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Legal Secretary – In 5 Steps

1. Have a High School Diploma

Nowadays, if you don’t have a High School diploma, you won’t be able to find a career pretty much anywhere.

A High School diploma is your ticket to freedom, and you can earn this while you are still a teenager.

Those who are over the age of 18 can earn a GED, which can be provided through your local high school, community college, or adult education center.

A GED is equivalent to a diploma and will allow you access to high-paying careers.

While you are still in High School, you may want to consider taking some classes that will boost your knowledge of the Legal Secretary career.

These classes will include:

  • Business Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Computer Applications
  • Legal System
  • Law Studies

You could even speak with a counselor to see if there are any work-study opportunities, internships, or other field-related courses you could take through the community college while still in high school.

2. Earn a Degree or Gain Experience

After you graduate from High School, it is time to see what college has to offer.

If you would rather begin your career instead of going to school, that is a possibility for this career as well.

Earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree is a way to amp up your knowledge and also show initiative to employers.

It can take anywhere from two to four years to complete these degrees, and you’ll want to study in programs like Criminal Justice, Legal Assistance, Secretarial Science, Public Administration, or Legal Support Services.

Within the classroom, you will learn how to communicate with others and form public speaking skills that will help you in your career.

Some people are not cut out for college, and that is okay, as long as you gain relevant experience.

You may want to start in High School, where you can become an intern or apprentice to grow your hands-on knowledge.

If that time has passed, consider becoming an apprentice or shadowing a Legal Secretary to see the day-to-day work that they do.

The more real-world experience you have in the field, the better options you will find when looking to apply.

3. Apply and Complete On-the-job Training

Now that you have some experience, consider applying online, in person, or speaking with a higher-up in the law firm where you are an apprentice.

You will likely need a cover letter, resume, and references to complete the application process.

Here, you can list any relevant education or experience in the field, and then you will likely be interviewed.

During your interview, you will be asked a series of questions, and may even need to take an online exam.

When you ace your interview, you’ll be prepared for the job with training that is likely paid and done during office hours.

Training can be completed with a senior Legal Secretary, who will show you the day-to-day activities that must be done to keep the office running smoothly.

Depending on where you work, the training may be a day or two, or up to a week.

When your training is over, you will be given a permanent position in the firm.

4. Advance in the Career

It may take a couple of years, but with experience and continuing your education, you can advance in your career and make more money.

You may be able to take classes or just study online, where you can learn more intricate ideas for a Legal Secretary.

Not only that, but through raises, promotions, and seniority, you may not be at the bottom of the barrel for long.

Consider taking time to maximize your organizational, typing, and managerial skills.

This will help you when it is time to consider becoming the office manager or providing training to new hires.

The more you learn and the more you impress your higher ups, you’ll have the opportunity to advance tremendously in this career.

5. Become Certified

Having certification is not a requirement to work as a Legal Secretary, however, it does boost your chances of promotions and raises.

There are different ways to earn certifications in this field, you can take classes online or you can enroll at a local community college or university.

It will cost about $3,000 to complete this program, and you’ll have the chance to learn practical office and administration skills, writing skills, how to do legal research, and law topics in a variety of areas.

After completing the courses necessary, you’ll take an exam that you will need to pass to become a Certified Legal Secretary.


There are two ways that you can go about becoming educated as a Legal Secretary.

The first possible option is to earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at a local community college or university.

You may even find online education as an option for this field, which means you will be able to learn at home.

An Associates degree will take two years to complete and some options for programs are:

  • Paralegal Studies
  • Criminal Justice
  • Secretarial Science
  • Legal Assistance

Taking relevant classes is key to becoming a successful Legal Secretary.

Speak to an education counselor to ensure that you are on the right path.

You could also talk to a law firm to see what types of skills they require to become hired.

It is also possible to earn a Bachelor’s degree to become a Legal Secretary, and with this option, you will spend four years in school.

Bachelor’s degrees provide optimum education in a wide variety of areas, including those prevalent to becoming a Legal Secretary like writing, reading comprehension, and public speaking.

Some degree options that you may want to consider if you go this route include:

  • Political Science
  • Legal Support Services
  • Public Administration
  • Paralegal Studies

Many law firms and attorney’s offices do not require a Bachelor’s degree to become a Legal Secretary.

If you aren’t keen on going to college, then you may want to consider interning at a law office or apprenticing through local practices.

An intern may not get paid while an apprentice will receive a daily wage, depending on the law office.

Before beginning an internship or apprenticeship, please discuss the requirements and stipend.

It is also likely that you will work with a senior Legal Secretary to learn the ropes of the career.

If you do well, you will be hired full-time at the law firm, where you will receive adequate pay for your services.

Licensing and Certification

Licensing and certification to work as a Legal Secretary are not a requirement for the job.

However, if you want to impress employers and learn more about the career, then consider becoming a certified Legal Secretary.

Earning a certification will provide you the opportunity to make more money and have more responsibility in your career.

There are options for online and in-person learning through the National Association for Legal Support Professionals as well as local universities.

Some certification places require up to one year of classes, while others just want you to complete one course that takes a day of your time.

Both options will provide an exam at the end of the courses to ensure you have learned the optimum knowledge in the field.

This exam is typically a multiple-choice test that covers topics like communications, law, ethics, legal procedures, and document preparation.

With the exam, you will receive either a pass or fail, and if you fail you have the option to retake the exam at a later time.

It can cost anywhere from $175 to over $3,000 to finish certification depending on where you decide to complete your studies.

Many courses and certification options are on a rolling basis, so you’ll be able to start your journey at any time that is convenient for you.

Those who choose to enroll in a certification through a local college will likely need to have one year of experience in the field in order to sit for the exam.

This means that you will be able to work and study for your exam at the same time.

While a certification is not necessary to work as a Legal Secretary, many law firms do approve of this education and will promote, provide raises, or otherwise give appropriate accommodation for you taking the time to better yourself and your career.

Job Outlook

Within the next ten years, the job outlook for Legal Secretaries is expected to rise about four percent.

This is about as much as the average occupation in the same field.

There will be over 35,000 new jobs available within the next decade, which is largely due to people retiring, finding new employment, or expansions of legal firms.

A Legal Secretary is a high-demand job in this economy, and more people will be looking to fill positions in solo, government, and practices around the United States.

Those who are looking to become Legal Secretaries should begin looking for careers in this field right away.

Legal Secretary Careers

Legal Courses

For those who do not have a degree in legal administration, there are accredited legal courses available that will allow them to seek employment as a legal secretary.

There are many colleges and universities that offer these legal courses.

There are also some that provide online legal courses.

It is important to make sure that the course is fully accredited before applying to make sure that a person will become fully certified in the field.

During a legal training course, a person will learn legal vocabulary, which is very important for work within a law firm.

In addition, the course will teach administrative skills that will allow a person to gain an understanding of how to run an efficient office.

Computer skills will be learned as well.

Should You Become a Legal Secretary?

Overall Satisfaction

Having a career as a Legal Secretary can be difficult at times, especially with the struggles of working with clients and maintaining a work/life balance.

Those who are organizers, team builders, and self-starters are best suited for this career.

There is much joy to be found in this career, so expect to have an interesting daily work experience as a Legal Secretary.

All in all, this career can be hard, but with the right attitude, you can do well and succeed.

Average Salary

The yearly salary for a Legal Secretary is about $54,180 on average in the United States.

This comes out to roughly $26 per hour or $1,041 per week.

Some Legal Secretaries can make more than $81,000 with certification, experience, and raises.

If you are just beginning your career as a Legal Secretary, expect to make closer to $31,000 to begin.

Other factors that allow for variations in the pay of a Legal Secretary are the size of the law firm, the clientele, and education level.

Job Growth Outlook

Having a career as a Legal Secretary will likely be on the rise over the next ten years.

Expect to see a growth of around four percent for this field, as more people retire and find other occupations.

With expanding and new law firms popping up every year, there will be a chance to fill over 35,000 jobs in the next decade.

Those who have more experience or education will likely fill these job positions first, so if you are looking into this career, now is the time to begin finding your dream role.

Education Duration

When it comes to working as a Legal Secretary, there are two options for education.

First, you can go to college and earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, which will take about two to four years of your time.

Or, you can begin right out of high school and intern, apprentice, or shadow a Legal Secretary to gain on-the-job experience.

This can take up to six months to complete.

In order to work as a Legal Secretary, you should expect to spend six months to four years learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you have to go to school to become a Legal Secretary?

That depends on you and whether you want to pursue a degree or begin your career right after high school.

Some law offices require having at least an Associate’s degree before you can become hired.

Others just want you to have relevant career experience before you begin your duties.

You can do this by working an internship either in high school or after, which can take up to six months to complete.

Or you can work as an apprentice where you will shadow a senior Legal Secretary.

If you choose to earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, you will spend two to four years in school.

Those who want to further their knowledge can earn a certification, which can take anywhere from six weeks to six months to complete.

How much money does a Legal Secretary make a year?

Those who are looking to become a Legal Secretary can expect a salary close to $54,180 per year.

When you are beginning your career, you will likely make about $31,000, however, with time, experience, and education, you could make more than $81,000 in total.

Depending on the type of law firm that you work in, these wages can vary significantly.

What kind of education do you need to be a Legal Secretary?

Knowledge of the legal system and proficiency with typing are important pieces of education that you’ll need to have to do well in this career.

Some people choose to earn an Associate’s degree in a related program, and there are law firms that do require this.

This could take about two years to finish, but it is not always necessary.

Relevant knowledge and experience are key to success as a Legal Secretary.

Consider taking on an internship, apprenticeship, or honing in on skills that are needed for the career.

Are Legal Secretaries in high demand?

Yes, Legal Secretaries are in high demand, there are new law firms and attorney’s offices popping up across the country every year.

There will be a need for Legal Secretaries to learn the intricacies of running a law office.

A Legal Secretary keeps everything in check and balances a law office in a way that is integral to the success of the firm.

What skills do you need to have to be a Legal Secretary?

Success in the career of a Legal Secretary is dependent on your knowledge and understanding of law, as well as honing in on particular skills, like:

  • Organization
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Typing and writing
  • Interpersonal
  • Legal document understanding
  • Computer
  • Active listening
  • Administration
  • Transcription

Possessing the majority of these skills will allow you to become the best Legal Secretary that you can be.

Michael Morales

About Michael Morales

Michael Morales is the Webmaster and Editor in Chief for With a strong background in Web Publishing and Internet Marketing, he currently works as an independent consultant. A former paramedic and ems educator, he enjoys punishing himself doing triathlons and endurance sports. Michael currently lives in sunny Northern California, home of the highest tax rates in the world.

3 Responses to Becoming a Legal Secretary – Career Guide

  1. Avatar
    Brent Kehoe #

    Being a legal secretary is a vital role that supports lawyers and legal professionals in their daily tasks, helping to maintain a well-organized and efficient legal practice.

  2. Avatar
    Carolyn Rude #

    This job allows for continuous learning, as legal secretaries become familiar with various areas of law, legal procedures, and document preparation.

  3. Avatar
    Robert Garcin #

    Legal secretaries often have opportunities for career advancement, including roles in legal administration, paralegal work, or specializing in specific areas of law.

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