The very epitome of the secretary is the legal secretary. The legal secretary is the backbone of any law firm without which day-to-day functions are impossible. Anyone who has ever seen the archives of a law firm knows that filing is NOT a trivial task. There are congressional file clerks that earn more than many and in larger law firms; you might find a whole department devoted to filing with senior personal and management. The legal secretary is a step above that. In the hierarchy, the only person above a legal secretary is a paralegal. Moreover, many legal secretaries are in fact paralegals. Generally, office administration programs at community colleges and universities are one to two-year programs.
Find a legal secretary degree today. The most recent data shows that there are currently over 250,000 legal secretaries in the United States. The number of Law Office Managers would be commensurately smaller with reasonable estimates of 15,000 to 30,000.
The demand for these types of professionals in strong. Nationwide, the growth of employment is estimated at around 18%, faster than the national average. However, those numbers reflect the state of the industry for legal secretaries. The professional position of someone with 5 or more years as a legal secretary and experience as an office manager in the legal field must be considered far more secure. This is an upper level management position in most, if not all, law firms.
The legal profession has grown considerably in the last 20 years. With diverse influences such as population growth, the increase in commercial law and tort activities as well as medical malpractice and international business all demanding the increasing involvement of law firms to negotiate contracts, international trade deals, pursue justice, and manage general business legal requirements. This is just a subset of the forces driving growth in this field.
As the demand for services increases and the complexity of those services increases, the need for competent, trained legal secretaries is going to be stiff. Most lawyers have more than one legal secretary and that trend will continue with more and more routine work being handled by them allowing the lawyers to pursue courtroom and boardroom issues. This also means that the pool of legal secretaries increasing will require more office managers to supervise this work and provide higher-level functions.