Lawyers and other legal aides employed at a law firm rely on legal receptionists (also referred to as legal secretaries) for assistance. In addition to clerical and other general duties in the office, legal receptionists render assistance to attorneys by helping them prepare and manage case files. Employers of legal receptionists do not insist on job applicants having specific legal knowledge; however, such knowledge will prove beneficial in improving their career in the long run. Clients who visit or call law firms interact with legal receptionists who are assigned the responsibility of answering phones and greeting visitors. Thus, they work to welcome visitors and enhance their sense of comfort in a professional ambience. Often, they are engaged in scheduling appointments and informing lawyers about arrivals of clients.
Job Responsibilities of a Legal Receptionist
Legal receptionists gather, manage and disseminate information with the purpose of ensuring the smooth running of a law office. They employ faxes, phone messages, emails and memos in facilitating information. They are involved in the performance of conventional office tasks normally assigned to office administrators and secretaries; to that end, they organize and maintain records, copy documents, schedule appointments and answer questions for prospective clients visiting the office. To accomplish this, familiarity with various software programs such as word processors and spreadsheets and office machines can prove useful to legal receptionists. In answering and screening calls and directing them to appropriate individuals, legal receptionists may need to operate a multi-line phone system or a switchboard.
Receptionists are assigned the tasks of managing, sorting and distributing incoming faxes, deliveries and among other communications, as well as dispersing outgoing communication. Some legal receptionists may provide assistance to attorneys with the creation and filing of court documents via audio transcription or dictation. Law firms employing secretaries and receptionists often insist on job applicants being familiar with legal terminology; prospective legal receptionists are expected to show respect for confidentiality (source: CareerBuilder.com’s September 2011 job postings).
Wage Potential of a Legal Receptionist
In 2010, information clerks and receptionists (across industries) earned an average annual salary of $25,240 (source: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)) with the wages ranging from $17,560 to $36,910. Earning a four-year degree alongside proven job performance over many years can help legal receptionists rise to high-paying secretarial positions. In September 2011, entry level legal secretaries earned an average annual salary of $38,275 (source: Salary.com); these professionals typically had high school diplomas and one to two years of experience.