Get Ready to Negotiate Your Legal Secretary Salary

By Robert Half January 14, 2019 at 10:00am

If you're a legal secretary, your job prospects are looking better these days than they did a few years ago. Law firms are hiring to keep up with increased client demand for legal services, and corporate legal departments are growing in order to handle more legal matters in-house. These and other factors can be good news, too, for today’s legal secretary salary.

Much like your career possibilities, the role of a legal secretary has evolved. While these professionals may still perform some traditional duties, like answering phones, they are expected to perform high-value activities involving law office procedures, technology and legal terminology. In many firms and corporate legal departments, legal support duties and responsibilities have expanded to include researching and compiling data for court cases, along with tasks like filing documents, communicating with clients and managing attorney schedules.

So when you do get that legal secretary job offer, it's important to make sure you're getting what you're worth. Before entering salary negotiations, review the following key factors that come into play when a law firm or corporate legal department determines a legal secretary salary.

Experience counts in this field

What salary can you expect in a legal secretary job? According to the 2019 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide, a legal secretary with one or two years of experience can earn a midpoint starting salary of $40,750. With three to six years of work history, a legal secretary can expect $52,000 as a midpoint salary.

Because salaries can differ significantly depending on the city, use our Salary Calculator to find out what a legal secretary can make in your area.

Also notice how the numbers increase with years on the job. A legal secretary salary for a professional with seven to 11 years of work experience can make $60,500 at the midpoint, and a senior or executive legal secretary with a dozen or more years can expect $67,750. At the midpoint, candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements.

Trying to find the right job seeker for your open legal secretary role? We can help with that too. Learn how.

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Your skills and areas of expertise

The most in-demand legal support professionals have several years of experience combined with strong technology skills. Law firms desire candidates who have backgrounds in hot practice areas such as intellectual property, compliance, commercial real estate, and litigation or eDiscovery. Keep in mind that in some markets, hybrid or blended paralegal/legal secretary roles are becoming more common as organizations streamline legal support functions to improve efficiencies.

Of course, strong interpersonal skills are essential for legal secretaries, and because so much client contact occurs through email, writing skills also are critical. Other desired traits include attention to detail, flexibility, resourcefulness and initiative. And in some markets, bilingual abilities — especially Spanish language skills — are increasingly vital.

In terms of technical skills, proficiency with Microsoft Office is expected, as is expertise with document management software and other applications specific to a particular practice area or law firm.

Typical duties of a legal secretary

  • Communicate with attorneys, staff, clients and vendors, in person, on the phone or video conference, and by email.
  • Attend and take notes at meetings, maintain files, and create, collect and format legal documents.
  • Schedule meetings, depositions, inspections, hearings, closings.
  • Perform research, prepare presentations and organize events.
  • Complete administrative forms, such as time cards and expense reports.

Ready to discuss your legal secretary salary?

Once you've determined your value, you'll be in a better position to negotiate a salary that accurately reflects your worth. During discussions about your legal secretary salary, remember to be professional and keep your cool. Don't back down too easily, but stay open-minded about compromise.

Also be clear on what you're willing to give up and what you can't do without — and remain optimistic. Then you and your potential employer are more likely to reach common ground, so you can end up with a result that makes both parties happy.

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