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How to Become a Legal Secretary

September 29, 2023

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to become a legal secretary.

Are you interested in the legal field, but don’t want to become a lawyer? A career as a legal secretary might be the right fit for you! It’s a promising career that can equip you with valuable legal knowledge and a multifaceted skill set.

Legal secretaries play an integral role in law firms, barrister's chambers, and various legal departments by providing a sense of structure and administration. Legal secretaries ensure every ‘t’ is crossed, and every ‘i’ is dotted, thereby helping lawyers do their jobs more effectively. 

Becoming a legal secretary is a valuable career that offers a host of benefits. Below we’ll discuss the ins and outs of this path, including their main responsibilities, salary expectations, and more!

Steps to Becoming a Legal Secretary

Steps to becoming a legal secretary

The requirements for becoming a legal secretary vary considerably, so naturally, there are different routes you can take to become one. 

The path you take can have a significant impact on how well you perform as a legal secretary and the salary you’re eligible to achieve. It’s important to put thought into your decisions to set yourself up for success. 

1. Pursue Higher Education

While there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a legal secretary, it is highly recommended to complete an associate degree program or certification if you’re serious about becoming a legal secretary. 

Gaining a formal education will strengthen your resume, skill set, and fundamental knowledge. Working as a legal secretary requires a high degree of legal comprehension, professionalism, and attention to detail. 

While the demand for legal secretaries is high, you want to make sure you stand out as a qualified candidate. Formal education will help you land a good position and make a competitive salary. It also contributes to increased job security and makes employee benefits and insurance more accessible. 

If you’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate program and interested in pursuing a career as a legal secretary, the following majors will help you gain valuable knowledge, skills, and experience to help you on your way. 

  • Political Science
  • Public Policy
  • Business
  • Psychology
  • English

Each of these majors will help you refine your critical thinking, communication and research skills, which will come in handy as a legal secretary. 

2. Obtain Professional Certifications 

There are numerous avenues you can take to gain a formal education as a legal secretary. The following courses can help you on your way:

  • Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) through the National Association of Legal Support Professionals (NALS)
  • Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) through NALS
  • Certified Legal Professional (CLP) through NALS
  • Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLS) through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)

These courses will equip you with the technical skills and specialized knowledge needed in your career as a legal secretary.  

3. Get Relevant Work Experience

It’s also a good idea to strengthen your resume with relevant work experience. Some firms and organizations even offer apprenticeship or trainee programs. Gaining on-the-job experience can help provide valuable insight into what it’s like to work as a legal secretary. It can also help you appeal to employers and secure a great job.

What Does a Legal Secretary Do?

To put it simply, legal secretaries provide administrative and research support to legal professionals. The level of support and expertise required varies on the role, practice, and area of law. Their duties consist of the following:

  • Organizing and attending meetings and taking accurate notes
  • Communicating with clients, lawyers, paralegals, opposing counsel, vendors, and judicial staff
  • Transmitting legal correspondences
  • Preparing and updating legal documents
  • Scheduling hearings, depositions, and a range of meetings
  • Collecting legal documents and updating them with factual information 
  • Maintaining systems of organizations and staying on top of administrative processes

By completing these duties as a legal secretary, you’ll play a vital role in the smooth running of legal offices and practices.

Relevant Skills 

To become a legal secretary, it’s essential to continually refine your skills. Legal secretaries must have a multifaceted skill set to perform their job effectively. Succeeding within the legal industry requires a great deal of professionalism and proficiency. 

Legal secretaries are trained on the specific methods, terminology, and technology used in their workplace. The following skills will help you succeed in your career as a legal secretary: 


Legal secretaries need to be highly organized to perform their job well. Legal secretaries often have to manage multiple ongoing projects and deadlines at the same time. It’s a dynamic, fast-paced role. You’ll need to complete your work efficiently and on time. 

Attention to Detail

It's critical for legal secretaries to be highly meticulous. You will be required to prepare and review legal documents that are accurate and error-free. 

Excellent Written and Verbal Communication

Legal secretaries are responsible for communicating with clients, colleagues, and other professionals. It’s important that they do so clearly and effectively. 

Fast and Accurate Transcription

Legal secretaries need to have a fast typing speed and make minimal errors when transcribing notes. Law firms generally require you to have a typing speed of 50 to 100 words per minute

Adept at Research 

An important component of being a legal secretary is conducting fundamental research to assist lawyers, paralegals, and other legal professionals. Legal secretaries may be required to gather background information on cases, verify legal citations, or locate precedents. 


Legal secretaries routinely handle sensitive information and data. They must exercise tact to ensure that clients' information is protected at all times.

Legal Secretary Salary and Career Outlook

A legal secretary’s salary depends on factors such as their education, experience level, geographical location and area of law. The average salary of legal secretaries sits at $52,394 per year and the range typically falls between $45,272 and $60,501.

Legal secretaries are in high demand. The profession is projected to grow at a rate of 14% within the next decade, which is much higher than the average growth rate of 5% for all occupations. 

Now is a great time to consider a career as a legal secretary!

FAQs: Becoming a Legal Secretary

If you have additional questions on how to become a legal secretary, you’re in the right place! Take a look at our answers to these frequently asked questions. 

1. How Long Does It Take to Become a Legal Secretary?

The duration of time required to become a legal secretary varies depending on the chosen path. Most programs and certifications take between one to two years to complete. 

2. What Is the Difference Between a Legal Secretary and a Paralegal?

While legal secretaries and paralegals are both professionals who work in the legal field, they have very distinct roles and responsibilities. 

Paralegal jobs are generally more complex. They’re required to have more legal knowledge and take a more active role in legal processes. Legal secretaries, on the other hand, provide administrative and research support to lawyers and paralegals. 

In contrast, paralegals work closely with lawyers in preparing legal cases. You can become a legal secretary without legal education or training, whereas paralegals are required to have a certificate or degree.

3. How Much Does a Top Legal Secretary Make?

The average annual salary of a legal secretary is $52,540, whereas the top legal secretary makes $67,882 per year.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a legal secretary is a fulfilling career choice that provides valuable insight into the legal field. You’ll play a critical role in helping law firms, barrister chambers, and legal departments function efficiently.

If you’re an organized professional with an interest in law, a career as a legal secretary might be the right fit for you. It provides opportunities to work in dynamic environments and acquire valuable legal knowledge

With rising demand and the potential to make a high income, now is the time to consider a career as a legal secretary!

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