Legal Secretary Positions for newcomers

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Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey

65 months ago

Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant, so I was thinking a legal secretary certificate would benefit me in this economy but I have been looking at recent job postings for legal secretaries and a lot of them require experience. Is it hard to find a job without any legal secretary experience? Any suggestions??

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tessie425 in Staten Island, New York

65 months ago

My advice would be to stay out of the legal secretary field. I have been doing it for too long, and it's an unrewarding career, in my opinion.

And yes, it's hard to find a good job with decent pay without the experience. You would need to find an entry level position, which probably would be on the lower end of the pay scale.

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Maggie in Hialeah, Florida

65 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant, so I was thinking a legal secretary certificate would benefit me in this economy but I have been looking at recent job postings for legal secretaries and a lot of them require experience. Is it hard to find a job without any legal secretary experience? Any suggestions??

I have always seen postings in the local newspaper and in the Daily Business Review Law Jobs where attorneys are willing to train. Although you will start from the "ground" up, it's worth it. If you have fast typing skills and are a good speller, that's all you need. Some lawyers are willing to train in order to pay less than the usual experienced legal secretary salary. You do not need a legal secretary certificate or college degree. You will learn more in the office in time acquiring experience than with those time-consuming and expensive courses. You can even start as a legal receptionist--the thing is to get your "foot in the door."

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Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey

65 months ago

Maggie in Hialeah, Florida said: I have always seen postings in the local newspaper and in the Daily Business Review Law Jobs where attorneys are willing to train. Although you will start from the "ground" up, it's worth it. If you have fast typing skills and are a good speller, that's all you need. Some lawyers are willing to train in order to pay less than the usual experienced legal secretary salary. You do not need a legal secretary certificate or college degree. You will learn more in the office in time acquiring experience than with those time-consuming and expensive courses. You can even start as a legal receptionist--the thing is to get your "foot in the door."

Hi Maggie

Thank you for your comment. I have been looking for postings of attorneys that are willing to train and have had no luck. I checked out the Daily Business Review site and did not find anything. Please feel free to forward me any links that you may see of such postings :-) I agree with you, I think hands on experience is the best experience there is!!

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dh in Northern CA, California

65 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant, so I was thinking a legal secretary certificate would benefit me in this economy but I have been looking at recent job postings for legal secretaries and a lot of them require experience. Is it hard to find a job without any legal secretary experience? Any suggestions??

I would vehemently urge you to consider another line of work. I'm pasting a response I wrote to someone else who inquired about this God-foraken profession:

Law is a terrible, miserable industry in which to work unless you want to become an atty. Have you spoken to people who are already working as legal secretaries or paralegals? An ovewhelming majority of them hate it. Read the other threads on this forum. What legal secs and paralegals put up with from attorneys is thoroughly disgusting. It shocks me that I've never heard of someone going postal in a law firm. And with the economy, it's hard to get a job now regardless of the industry.

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dh in Northern CA, California

65 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant, so I was thinking a legal secretary certificate would benefit me in this economy but I have been looking at recent job postings for legal secretaries and a lot of them require experience. Is it hard to find a job without any legal secretary experience? Any suggestions??

Also,you should click on this link and read the thread:

www.indeed.com/forum/job/legal-secretary/legal-secretary/t51575

I'm 42 and have 1 semester left til I graduate w/degree in Economics. I've depleted my entire life savings, accrued debt, and haven't contributed anything to 401K in 3 years. I was willing to do anything - whatever it took - to get out of law, including move to another state in order to find work.

Recently. I found out that my financial aid had been denied because I didn't complete my degree within a required # of units. I had too many units because I didn't finish my degree at my previous university (I was a Criminology major but dropped out because I was working p/t in law firms and realized that law was a bad career choice). So when I returned to school a few years ago to prepare for my exit from the legal industry, I already had a lot more than than the required transferable units. I had one semester left and was told I would have to appeal to get the aide I need to finish.

continued...

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dh in Northern CA, California

65 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant, so I was thinking a legal secretary certificate would benefit me in this economy but I have been looking at recent job postings for legal secretaries and a lot of them require experience. Is it hard to find a job without any legal secretary experience? Any suggestions??

... continued from above:

A financial aid counselor told me I need to show justification that it was necessary for me to effect a career change. I was able to provide extensive documentation (emails and notes I took on my own) of repeated harassment from different attys while I worked as a secretary. A former coworker wrote the financial aid counselor on my behalf and explained to her that hostile and oppressive environments are commonplace in law firms; therefore changing jobs won't alleviate the situation. The financial aide counselor was appalled with the documentation I provided. She told me appeals take 15-20 business days, but my status was changed from "denied" to showing that I was on financial aide probation the VERY NEXT DAY.

Believe me, you don't want to involved yourself in this line of work.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

65 months ago

I can't believe they wanted to deny your financial aid.

As for attorneys willing to train????? Sounds good in theory. That training is either another secretary helping you out - or an attorney BERATING YOU LOUDLY.

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dh in Northern CA, California

65 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: I can't believe they wanted to deny your financial aid...

HI Mary - It made sense after they explained it to me. They don't want someone to make a career of being a student. In CA, we need 120 units for a BA/BS, 60 for AA/AS. I had my 60 general ed units done in the early 90's then went back to school and did 30 criminal justice units at a community college. Later, after realizing law was a mistake, I decided to go into the mortgage. I got my loan processing cert AND took real estate classes during my last year as a legal seretary. We all know what happened to the mortgage industry. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to get hired as a loan processor, I moved back to my hometown to attend school full time. As an Econ major, I had to take extra math that I didn't already have and brush up on stats. So when I FINAlly finally transferred to a university, I had over 100 units. You need 60, and they will count a max of 70 toward your degree, but there's a record of it thru financial aid. At first, my argument was that I paid for all of the 100+ community college units out of my pocket, but that didn't work. So I had to file an appeal, showing that I had to make a career change in order to maintain my health, and my appeal was approved. THANK GOD.

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Jennie in Brooklyn, New York

64 months ago

Maggie in Hialeah, Florida said: I have always seen postings in the local newspaper and in the Daily Business Review Law Jobs where attorneys are willing to train. Although you will start from the "ground" up, it's worth it. If you have fast typing skills and are a good speller, that's all you need. Some lawyers are willing to train in order to pay less than the usual experienced legal secretary salary. You do not need a legal secretary certificate or college degree . You will learn more in the office in time acquiring experience than with those time-consuming and expensive courses . You can even start as a legal receptionist--the thing is to get your "foot in the door."

Are you kidding, no trains anymore. Law firms just hire to work asap. Train, I think not. Now, with the recession they're getting the best for least pay. Naturally, they will take advantage of this recession. Don't waste your money on school you'll start at the botton anyway and work your ass off.

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Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee

64 months ago

I was actually considering the same option of becoming a legal secretary. I have my Bachelors degree in Psychology and have been working in academia for several years. Unfortunately it has not paid a lot of money and I have been unemployed for a time. I was wondering if I obtained by legal secretary certificate if this would be sufficient enough to get me into this line of work. I currently have no experience, which I know is important in this economy. I would appreciate if someone would give me some advice who has been in the field, along with an honest opinion. Thanks!

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee said: I was actually considering the same option of becoming a legal secretary. I have my Bachelors degree in Psychology and have been working in academia for several years. Unfortunately it has not paid a lot of money and I have been unemployed for a time. I was wondering if I obtained by legal secretary certificate if this would be sufficient enough to get me into this line of work. I currently have no experience, which I know is important in this economy. I would appreciate if someone would give me some advice who has been in the field, along with an honest opinion. Thanks!

As a legal secretary (or paralegal), you will always be at the bottom of the totem pole. There is no ladder of success to climb, no opportunities for advancement. This profession is NOT for the ambitious goal-oriented, career-minded woman. The pay is not that great but does look good when you compare it to secretarial pay in other industries.

Now about the attys. An overwhelming majority of the time they are difficult and sometimes impossible to work with. There is more than one way to complete a task. If you ask him how he wants it done, he's angry that you've bothered him. If pick a way and do it, he's unhappy because it wasn't done the other way. They are controlling micromanagers. Firms often foster a hostile dictatorship type environment. This job (it's a job, not a career) requires all of the hard work and dedication that a high pressure corporate job requires but without the reward because you can't get promoted anywhere. It's dead end. There is no long-run pay off.

The attys with whom you work drive luxury cars; live in big, beautiful homes; and travel to exotic places on vacation. They couldn't accomplish these things without a secretary doing the grunt work; yet they won't pay you enough to own your own condo (assuming you're single and on your own). I've had two former coworkers go out on stress leave, one on temp disability.

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Jennie in Brooklyn, New York

64 months ago

Law firms do not train anymore. Not worth it. You also need highly advance word computer skills.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

Let's be logical. Why would a law firm train anyone there there is an over abundance of trained ones available.

Law firms expect you how to know Word, use file opening software, use PowerPoint, use Excel, and do mailmerges.

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Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee

64 months ago

dh in Northern CA, California said: As a legal secretary (or paralegal), you will always be at the bottom of the totem pole. There is no ladder of success to climb, no opportunities for advancement. This profession is NOT for the ambitious goal-oriented, career-minded woman. The pay is not that great but does look good when you compare it to secretarial pay in other industries.

Now about the attys. An overwhelming majority of the time they are difficult and sometimes impossible to work with. There is more than one way to complete a task. If you ask him how he wants it done, he's angry that you've bothered him. If pick a way and do it, he's unhappy because it wasn't done the other way. They are controlling micromanagers. Firms often foster a hostile dictatorship type environment. This job (it's a job, not a career) requires all of the hard work and dedication that a high pressure corporate job requires but without the reward because you can't get promoted anywhere. It's dead end. There is no long-run pay off.

The attys with whom you work drive luxury cars; live in big, beautiful homes; and travel to exotic places on vacation. They couldn't accomplish these things without a secretary doing the grunt work; yet they won't pay you enough to own your own condo (assuming you're single and on your own). I've had two former coworkers go out on stress leave, one on temp disability.

Thanks for your honesty. I am 30, single and looking for a career that I can obtain rather quickly without spending extra money on getting my master's since I am unemployed now. I have a close friend as a lawyer and she has mixed opinions. She states it depends on where you work. But again, she agrees the economy is tight and they hire experienced people first.

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Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee

64 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: Let's be logical. Why would a law firm train anyone there there is an over abundance of trained ones available.

Law firms expect you how to know Word, use file opening software, use PowerPoint, use Excel, and do mailmerges.

I actually have advanced Word, Powerpoint expert level Excel skills. I have been worked as a college academic advisor for several years. However, since being recently unemployed I am wondering if I should get a master's to advance in the education field or do the legal certification. It takes a great deal of time to make money in education. I was considering a field as a legal secretary because of a person I know doing well in the legal field with her JD. I am understanding now that in this economy it takes more than education, it take experience.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

Kelly, each of us have different opportunities, luck, or whatever, for different reasons. So no one can really tell someone else what is a good choice.

However, I wouldn't waste money on a legal certificate. I got my A.A. in Paralegal Studies four years ago in Florida because I strongly believe it would get me a job with the title paralegal. I had already worked as a paralegal in all my jobs, but only had the title once.

I have teacher certification in Florida, Engligh 6-12 and Elementary Education. I'm trying to get the money together to complete my requirements. I can't get another student loan.

If you are going to do a Master's in Education, make it something like ESE (exceptional student education), or hearing impaired, something needed.

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee said: Thanks for your honesty. I am 30, single and looking for a career that I can obtain rather quickly without spending extra money on getting my master's since I am unemployed now. I have a close friend as a lawyer and she has mixed opinions. She states it depends on where you work. But again, she agrees the economy is tight and they hire experienced people first.

Hi Kelly - I'm glad I didn't offend you. I think I've offended a few people on this forum. I didn't mean to. Maybe because they have such an interest in law and have their hearts set on becoming a legal secretary, and then they get a response like the one I wrote to you. I also have a close friend who is an atty (well, not really). I actually just saw her last week while visiting LA. She graduated from USC Law in '97 (undergrad from U of MI at Ann Arbor) in the top something % of her class, passed the bar the first time, got a job, quit that job soon thereafter, and hasn't worked as an atty since. She is now working part time at a private school, doing something with teens. She loves it but is broke.

I was thinking that since you already have a degree, you could go to law school if you were interested in law. While I do know a lot of attys who don't like what they do, they didn't seem to have that same misery that the legal secretaries and paralegals had. Furthermore, every NONlitigation atty that I met, with the exception of just one, really liked being an atty. I believe most litigators hate it. Of the few with whom I became acquainted that were actually approachable, I always asked them whether they would go to law school if they could go back and do it over again, and they almost always said no.

Whatever you do, stay away from legal sec or paralgl. I used to be a LS, and I returned to school full time to get my degree in Economics. I graduate in Dec. I'm 42. I've accrued hefty debt and depleted my entire life savings to get out of law.

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Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee

64 months ago

Hi dh in Northern CA. I do appreciate your sincere feedback to my question. I also respect the feedback of Mary in Tampa and displaced legal professional. Everyone has a different experience and opinion to share. However, I don't like it when people sugarcoat the facts. In my experience as a counselor, when you sugarcoat and hide the truth it backfires and leads people to bad life decisions. While it is true there are people out there that may enjoy their careers as legal secretaries, it good to hear the other sides. I asked all for honest contributions so I can make a valid decision. Reading about your experience has made me think. You've seen it and been there. My friend sounds similiar to your friend. After she got her degree from a top law school she decided to become a lobbyist and director. She knew the firm life was definitely NOT for her.

Many people have suggested that I become a college or high school teacher with my background. And I know I have the resume to get me going. However I was just looking for a faster way to get good professional employment. This economy is a downer.

I wish you the best of luck with getting your degree in economics. Good luck with the loans and I hope you find the career that suits you!

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

Kelly, I have teacher certification in Florida - but no job. Right now I'm subbing. I like being in a classroom a whole lot better than being in an office. There is certainly far more variety in the day.

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Kelly in Thompsons Station, Tennessee

64 months ago

Thanks again Mary and Displaced. Yes, it is definitely job satisfaction I am after. I found it extremely rewarding working in advising. Consequently, I have had temp jobs working in high-stress office settings and found these jobs to be very demanding. Often I found the bosses would be disrespectful and fellow co-workers to be back-stabbing. I was hoping people on legal jobs would behave more professionally given the line of work. However from what I have read on these forums it may not be the case. Again it does depend on who you work for but I won't deny there was a certain respect I got from working in the college. Grateful students were the highlight of my day. I think I may seriously considering seeking more work in education.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

- even if the attorney throws you an occasional thank-you bone.

Well put.

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

Kelly in Spring Hill, Tennessee said: Hi dh in Northern CA. I do appreciate your sincere feedback to my question. I also respect the feedback of Mary in Tampa and displaced legal professional. Everyone has a different experience and opinion to share. However, I don't like it when people sugarcoat the facts. ...I wish you the best of luck with getting your degree in economics. Good luck with the loans and I hope you find the career that suits you!

Hi Kelly-I chuckled at your use of the word "sugarcoat." I have had people respond angrily to me when I've responded to their inquiry about this industry in the same way that I responded to yours. I've been told I have a bad attitude and that I shouldn't be so negative. My response in turn is to tell them that I will be honest and not SUGARCOAT anything, that I always write the truth.

I know exactly what you mean by "looking for a career that I can obtain rather quickly without spending extra money." That's why I started taking real estate classes in '05 and also earned my loan processing certificate. I was trying to break into the mortgage industry. I interviewed and interviewed, sometimes getting called back for a 2nd and even a 3rd. I was always up against several with experience. I was interviewing for positions that, while they had long run potential, would start at about 60% of the pay of the job I was trying to leave.

In Dec '05/Jan '06, mortgage companies in Orange County were starting hiring freezes even back then. We still had no idea the market was going to crash like it did. So at 39, I decided to move back to my hometown where it's cheaper and become a full time student. I was that desperate to get out of law.

I like DLP's response to you about the rewards of teaching. I would enjoy having former students contact me, if I had former students!! Good luck to you also.

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Kelly in Thompsons Station, Tennessee

64 months ago

Actually I think the comment "thank you bone" tops "sugar coat." I know the satisfaction that DLP must feel when being contacted by former flight students. I once felt the same satisfaction in advising! Well, after some consideration I have decided to pursue some type of degree in education. Maybe a Master's in Counseling or teacher certification. Teaching and counseling seem to both be high needs areas. However, I will need to wait and see if money permits this course of action. I prefer to begin working again before I consider any degree. However, dh I feel you are right about reconsidering a fast-track degree, such as you did with real estate. The last thing I need is to come out of school with a useless certificate and absolutely no job prospects once again! I am tired of the merry-go-round. But I don't want to be unhappy working with ungrateful, angry people. Like I said, I had my fill of that in temping to know that I don't want that in my future. Again I appreciate!

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dingdong in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

64 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: I can't believe they wanted to deny your financial aid.

As for attorneys willing to train????? Sounds good in theory. That training is either another secretary helping you out - or an attorney BERATING YOU LOUDLY.

I unfortunately didn't get another co-worker to train me .... just a lot of LOUD BERATING. And then fired. I have NEVER been fired, well not since high school when I was a telemarketer.

My suggestion to anyone wanting to enter the legal field in an administrative/paralegal capacity: Make sure you have REALLY thick skin, have a retort available at a moment's notice, do not have the physical ability to cry, and be used to walking on eggshells.

I am just very jaded about the profession...But if you can get into another arena using legal secretarial skills, go for it!

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

dingdong in Milwaukee, Wisconsin said: I unfortunately didn't get another co-worker to train me .... just a lot of LOUD BERATING. And then fired. I have NEVER been fired, well not since high school when I was a telemarketer.

My suggestion to anyone wanting to enter the legal field in an administrative/paralegal capacity: Make sure you have REALLY thick skin, have a retort available at a moment's notice, do not have the physical ability to cry, and be used to walking on eggshells.

I am just very jaded about the profession...But if you can get into another arena using legal secretarial skills, go for it!

I SECOND EVERYTHING WRITTEN HERE. "Walking on eggshells." I never thought about using that expression when other people ask me what it's like to work for attys. It's perfectly appropriate. With the exception of my first law job, when I worked as a word processor, I almost ALWAYS felt that way. It's a nasty feeling. I would go home on the weekends, and the worries of the job were constantly nagging at me all weekend. During the summer weeknights, I would go out to the beach to rollerblade just to get my mind off work, and I couldn't do it. I HATED THE LEGAL INDUSTRY MORE THAN I'VE EVER HATED ANYTHING IN MY LIFE.

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dw in Orlando, Florida

63 months ago

I "fell into" my current job as legal secretary with no legal education at all. I started as a typist in a typing pool at a law firm, and worked hard enough to get recognized so that when a position opened up for an assistant legal secretary, I was in. When the legal secretary left the firm, they were in a hiring freeze, so rather than hiring someone to replace her, I got the job. It's not the job I picked for myself, but I also never really picked what job I wanted anyway.

As far as pay, I've been an assistant for 2 years now, and I make 14.18/hr. My husband has no job at all, we pay the bills, but we live in a mobile home and don't own the land we're on. The job happiness depends soo much on the people you work for and with. The attorneys I work for are really pretty nice guys, sure they have things that drive me crazy once in a while but I've actually never been yelled at by my attorneys- only by the other legal secretary who I used to assist! The main problem is always being blamed when something goes wrong, even if(though) it's the atty's fault. Back up everything you do so you can prove you're not at fault. With attys, evidence is everything.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

59 months ago

dh in Northern CA, California said: I SECOND EVERYTHING WRITTEN HERE. "Walking on eggshells." I never thought about using that expression when other people ask me what it's like to work for attys. It's perfectly appropriate. With the exception of my first law job, when I worked as a word processor, I almost ALWAYS felt that way. It's a nasty feeling. I would go home on the weekends, and the worries of the job were constantly nagging at me all weekend. During the summer weeknights, I would go out to the beach to rollerblade just to get my mind off work, and I couldn't do it. I HATED THE LEGAL INDUSTRY MORE THAN I'VE EVER HATED ANYTHING IN MY LIFE.

This post of 5 months ago. I just read it, again.

YES, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS is the perfect word to describe many days in legal land. Nasty feeling, you bet. IT causes anxiety because you do not know where you stand with your boss/attorney. AM I getting fired for ___________. WHAT?? I came home from work on many days, wtih that nasty unsettling feeling...and I could not get outside on those days after work....to go for a walk around my beautiful neighborhood in Miami..awesome weather in fact. Eggshells go to anxiety, to fear of the unknown, to being paralyzed mentally in your own head....thus unable to get outside and get a walk...which logically you know is the thing to do...but the mind is paralyzed by the EGGSHELLS.

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WP Specialist NYC in New Jersey

56 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate

Tell me, what are some reputable programs in the New York City metro area? Do employers really take online certificates seriously? I ask because I am only finding online schools for the legal secretary certificate, and I'm unsure how "legit" these schools are.

I appreciate your response.

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WP Specialist NYC in New Jersey

50 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant

Mich, I am wondering. How can one learn to become an EDGAR operator? I wish to expand my knowledge set.

Thanks.

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sawn28 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

48 months ago

I graduated in 2009 with a legal secretary degree and still cant find work because most jobs want experience!

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CLM in Dallas, Texas

45 months ago

If you enjoy being verbally abused, unappreciated, stabbed in the back and overworked (among other things) then being a legal secretary is the profession for you. You should also look forward to emergency deadlines and lots of overtime caused solely by your attorney's procrastination and lack of consideration for you and your life outside of work. Oh, and get used to running personal errands and doing paperwork that involves non-work related business, such as helping to plan your attorney's vacation, your attorney's child's summer camp plans, or helping to write and mail in your attorney's child's college applications. Good times.

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ME in Phoenix, Arizona

45 months ago

WP Specialist NYC in New Jersey said: Tell me, what are some reputable programs in the New York City metro area? Do employers really take online certificates seriously? I ask because I am only finding online schools for the legal secretary certificate, and I'm unsure how "legit" these schools are.

I appreciate your response.

Ask if the school you are interested in "attending" is ABA (American Bar Association) certified. This certification "looks" better to an employer, in my opinion, than an online school that is not.

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Mezosub in Long Beach, California

45 months ago

I've been doing a lot of thinking about why working with attorneys is so difficult recently.

One of the conclusions that I've come to is that, at least at my job, my attorneys want me to work like an associate, but to be paid like an LS.

At my previous job, I was specifically brought in to replace an IP LS with over fifteen years of experience (I had no IP experience) because the attorney was unhappy with her performance. During the pre-interview, I questioned him as to what was wrong with the experienced IP LS's performance, and he replied, "Well, now that her daughter is a senior in high school, she wants to leave at 5:30 every day. She's never available to work overtime and always has other plans. That kind of inflexibility just won't work for me."

Once I took the job, I investigated further, and interviewed the IP LS for her side of the story. Turns out, this guy would rush her at her desk during the five o'clock hour EVERY afternoon, detaining her from leaving by saying that he had to have "just one more thing"...

Everyone knows how this goes. Before you know it, that "one more thing" turns into several things, and the next think one knows, it's 7:00 p.m. and dinner has been missed. The LS's family members are starting to call, wondering when she's coming home. And the attorney has a problem with that, because he's created all this chaos by his own lack of time-management skills. Then, when payroll time came, he would refuse to approve her overtime.

He kept trying to get this poor woman fired for months after I joined the team. Until, finally, I had to retrieve an email that had been sent to her from the HR Director, who stated that the attorney's constant complaints about the LS were going to be ignored, and no further action would be taken with regard to anything he said about her, because it's UNLAWFUL to subject a worker to adverse employment action (write-ups to the HR file) because the LS refuses to violate the labor code

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ME in Phoenix, Arizona

45 months ago

This kind of stuff doesn't surprise me. I have been fortunate enough in my 20 year LS career, to work with great attorneys. Sure the job is stressful, sure there's last minute work (albiet everyday at 4:59 p.m. gets old real fast), and, I agree, overworked and underpaid. Although I must say, I got totally burned out with one attorney who ran me ragged - and after 21 months called it quits (unbeknownst to him I had already been offered another position and accepted), but we were both amenable. It was just time for a change and life went on.

Being a victim of job elimination for quite some time, beating my head against the wall coming up empty-handed on any "family" income, I actually wonder if I even want to get back into it again - I get a knot in my stomach thinking about it. I tossed around going for my Paralegal certificate, but I've seen how some paralegal's are treated by their attorneys and are at their desks when I come in in the morning, and when I leave. I thought, nah. I have children I'd like to see grow and life's too short.

Hopefully the poor woman you talked about hired a good employment attorney and she's on the upside of the coin. I had instances semi-like the one mentioned, and when HR realized I couldn't bill a client for my time and it was a firm expense, I believe that had something to do with my "exit." But it was economics even though I had seniority, head of the department, marketing liason, etc. etc., it made more sense to let me go and keep the two other gals in the department - two for the price of one. But, no worries, all our jobs are secure. Misery loves company as I soon realilzed I wasn't the only one carrying out my personal belongings in a banker's box after 4 years.

I think I got off the beaten path, but if I had to do it all over again, I'd look differently at my career options. But, as it did with me, I fell into my career and it was semi-lucrative until recently.

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dingdong in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

45 months ago

ME in Phoenix, Arizona said:
Being a victim of job elimination for quite some time, beating my head against the wall coming up empty-handed on any "family" income, I actually wonder if I even want to get back into it again - I get a knot in my stomach thinking about it. I tossed around going for my Paralegal certificate, but I've seen how some paralegal's are treated by their attorneys and are at their desks when I come in in the morning, and when I leave. I thought, nah. I have children I'd like to see grow and life's too short.

I commented on this post 18 months ago and receive updates when new comments are added. I am really glad I have read through the comments since mine. At the time of my comment, I had been let go at a firm and was very jaded about returning as a paralegal. Luckily, I was able to get a contract job which kept extending and extending each month, and ended in January. This was not at a law firm. Now I am sitting here trying to get any type of job and was ACTUALLY considering going back to a firm. (I have an AAS in Paralegal studies). Reading all of this brings back so many memories, and I am starting to feel even more anxious about finding a job! I remember SO many workdays that "started" at 4:45 p.m.. .... Now that I want to start a family, I do not want to go back to that, but I don't know what other options I have. My computer skills aren't up to par as the last company I worked for was still using Office 2000 (and you would be really surprised to know which one it is, as everyone has heard of it). I barely got used to Office 2007 and we have moved on to 2010, which I don't have a drop of knowledge with. How can I even possibly get a regular ole Admin job when I don't know the current software. Oy! Do I really want to go back to that? What options do I have to find full time, permanent employment WITH insurance?

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ME in Phoenix, Arizona

45 months ago

dingdong in Milwaukee, Wisconsin said:

Dear "dingdong" in Milwaukee:

I LOVE Milwaukee. I grew up on Brady Street/Prospect Avenue before we moved to Pewaukee Lake where I grad HS, but as I said working as a LS, our Paralegals were there almost 24/7 it seemed. And personally, since you want to start a family, getting back on that treadmill would be more emotionally draining. I did that - it's horrible. But it's certainly doable if you don't want to have a life.

I think there are software classes you can register for on-line, or check out Milwaukee's job banks, or if you're on unemployment (like I was), there should be many resources in which to brush up on current software. It's just a matter of finding a place and getting it done - if that's what you feel is necessary to become more marketable. Couldn't hurt.

But the main point is like you stated - do you want to go back to that?

I believe the post by CLM in Dallas sums up our "job description" accurately.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

45 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: You sum it up in those two statements. A workday "starting" at 4:45 p.m. - especially when your real workday started at eight a.m. - is to be avoided, even if you don't have a family.

No, you don't want to go back to that.

I third that. Those 4:45 days - ugggg (and I thought I was getting out the door in 15 minutes).

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Little T in Evansville, Indiana

44 months ago

I have been a legal secretary for eleven years now. It is a great career stepping up from being just a secretary. Experience is not always a requirement but the pay will reflect not having experience. I have a question about converting word docs to EDGAR
format if you are willing to discuss, please email me at tinalburch@gmail.com

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I was thinking of getting my legal secretary certificate but need some advice. I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant, so I was thinking a legal secretary certificate would benefit me in this economy but I have been looking at recent job postings for legal secretaries and a lot of them require experience. Is it hard to find a job without any legal secretary experience? Any suggestions??

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Little T in Evansville, Indiana

44 months ago

I have been a legal secretary for eleven years now. It is a great career stepping up from being just a secretary. Experience is not always a requirement but the pay will reflect not having experience. I have a question about converting word docs to EDGAR
format if you are willing to discuss, please email me at tinalburch@gmail.com

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Cranky in San Diego, California

41 months ago

I second everything in this thread. Unless you are lucky enough to work for a large national or international law firm, where they treat people somewhat better, it is a miserable profession. I currently work for a partner in a mid-size local firm and I hate it. He is unappreciative, grouchy, blames me for everything and hasn't done one thing to help me learn my job. "Figure it out" is all he says. He also yells at me in front of other people. I want to walk out so bad but I need the job and after going through a long period of unemployment, I know jobs are hard to get especially if you are older (I have been doing this for over 25 years now). I would not suggest this field to anybody.

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Mimibrown

41 months ago

Mich in North Bergen, New Jersey said: Hello everyone

I am an EDGAR operator and have about 9 years experience in converting financial documents from word to become SEC compliant

My question if you don't mind answering: where can I get Edgar training in the NYC area? Please email me at mimibrown19@yahoo.com.

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divadoll

23 months ago

Hi, this is an interesting topic. I too have been giving being a legal secretary serious thought. I just made up my mind after reading this thread. I have worked in a law firm for almost 8 years as a file clerk. I have seen the way some of these attorneys treat there secretaries and it is appalling. I did say SOME attys. I realize attys are only mean and nasty when you don't kmow what the heck your doing. They lose their patience very quickly. So yes, take the course, it will help with the legal terminology you will need to get by. Having a certificate only says you have the kowledge, skill will be acquired later. Pray that you are or become a fast learner. If not, you will not survive in this profession. Its fast pace. If you are fortunate to work for a large firm and a caring atty I say go for it. It is worth the trouble. The secretaries who work with me find their jobs stressful at times but they all say the same thing: They wouldn't quit for the world. Great benefits and perks will make you stay. If you apply for a job, always ask the hiring manager about the atty before accepting the position. Also ask to speak with his former secretary. she can give you an honest opinion abotu the atty. That will help you get an idea of the type of person you will be dealing with. Other than that, I love the firm I work for and I am planning to get my legal secretary cert. this year in case a position comes up in my firm. I wish I hadnt been so hesitant about being a secretary before or else I could have moved up sooner. I have known some secretaries who have moved up to managerial positions in my firm. It's all about patience, how hard you're willing to work and how bad you want to succeed. Any job is hard when you lack experience. The perks come at the end of the year and evaluation. Our firm gives us a longevity bonus and performance raise. Most large firms will train you on how to use their computer programs. Just take some Miscrosoft classes and you are good to go!

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