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Host

What are typical legal secretary salaries? Do some companies pay a lot more for this position than others? What does a top earner make in this field?

What skills should you learn to increase your salary?

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Barbara in Salt Lake City, UT

100 months ago

I am currently working in southern Utah, which is notoriously a low-paying area. I am earning $10/hour but I figure that I only work a 33 hour week, which brings my actual salary up to about $12/hour. I've been on the job for 10 months. When my one year anniversary comes up, I plan to ask for a raise. That question is "How Much?" What is the average percentage one asks for when asking for a raise? The fact that I could be earning $18/hour in Las Vegas, 100 miles away, is a moot point.
So, how does one go about asking for a raise? I assume that my boss will ask, "What do you have in mind?"
Thanks!

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Lea in Naples, FL

99 months ago

Barbara, I live in Orlando, Florida and the pay is horrible as well. I am originally from New York where I was making $23 to $25 per hour. Wait for your early review and then broach the subject. Good luck.

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Susie in Berkeley, CA

99 months ago

Barbara said: I am currently working in southern Utah, which is notoriously a low-paying area. I am earning $10/hour but I figure that I only work a 33 hour week, which brings my actual salary up to about $12/hour. I've been on the job for 10 months. When my one year anniversary comes up, I plan to ask for a raise. That question is "How Much?" What is the average percentage one asks for when asking for a raise? The fact that I could be earning $18/hour in Las Vegas, 100 miles away, is a moot point.
So, how does one go about asking for a raise? I assume that my boss will ask, "What do you have in mind?"
Thanks!

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Susie in Berkeley, CA

99 months ago

Salaries, for experienced legal secretaries, in New York City, range from $55K to $80K, depending on the difficulty of the assignment.472

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Pam in NY in Middle Village, New York

95 months ago

I am living in NY right now and work in Manhattan, NY but I am thinking of relocating to the Scranton area of Pennsylvania. I know New York is much more expensive to live and so the salaries are higher, but can anyone tell me what the salaries are like in this area? Wilkes-Barre as well. Also which city would be the best place to look for work? I have 20 years of corporate legal experience. Any information on a sample salary would be helpful. Thank you.

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Pam of Middle Village, NY in Middle Village, New York

95 months ago

That is one bitter response. I have been in it for 20 years now and I'm 39. Sure you have your bunch of a**holes, but they are not all like that, there are plenty of nice guys to balance out the bad ones.

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Mary in Boston, Massachusetts

95 months ago

You got into it at 19.

You are probably already mentally resigned to a life of mind-numbing, indentured servitude which you are unable to recognize for what it is due to your unfortunate indoctrination at such an impressionable age.

I was lucky to have made my legal secretary mistake at 32. By the time I'm 41 I'll be out and all the wiser for it, working once again with fully alive, real human beings in all their colorful complexity.

I'm of the opinion that there is something at least as wrong with legal secretaries who choose to stay in the profession (if they have any choices at all in life) as there are with the idiots who go into litigation or corporate shilling as lawyers.

But if it works for you and you think they're "nice guys" then more powah to ya sistah. Maybe you can marry one some day if you haven't already :)

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Cathy in New Jersey

95 months ago

Host said: What are typical legal secretary salaries? Do some companies pay a lot more for this position than others? What does a top earner make in this field?
What skills should you learn to increase your salary?

~

The salaries really depend upon how much experience you have in New Jersey and also depends upon where you send your resume. I have over 14 years experience as a Legal Secretary and have been told many times over by potential employers that I have alot of experience, in particular, diversified which suggests that I am capable of handling a variety of assignments in the different fields of law. However, the most I have been offered throughout my career was $40,500 per year working for up to 3 attorneys on a daily basis which is very unfortunate.

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Cathy in New Jersey

95 months ago

Pam in NY said: I am living in NY right now and work in Manhattan, NY but I am thinking of relocating to the Scranton area of Pennsylvania. I know New York is much more expensive to live and so the salaries are higher, but can anyone tell me what the salaries are like in this area? Wilkes-Barre as well. Also which city would be the best place to look for work? I have 20 years of corporate legal experience. Any information on a sample salary would be helpful. Thank you.

~
Well there is a website called Monster.com where you could look up the salary for any State and City and what they are currently paying for a legal position in the industry. The Monster.com link is called Salary.locator. There are other websites such as Careerbuilder.com and Hotjobs which also give a link but I am not familiar with it to really suggest it. I have been using the Monster.com link for a few years now so it seems to be very accurate.

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DC

93 months ago

Pam in NY said: I am living in NY right now and work in Manhattan, NY but I am thinking of relocating to the Scranton area of Pennsylvania. I know New York is much more expensive to live and so the salaries are higher, but can anyone tell me what the salaries are like in this area? Wilkes-Barre as well. Also which city would be the best place to look for work? I have 20 years of corporate legal experience. Any information on a sample salary would be helpful. Thank you.

MY REPLY:
PAM DO NOT MOVE HERE!I am living in Erie which is the worst place ever for jobs! I have lived in about 6 different states..and so far Pennsylvania (parts of it) have proven to be the WORST PAY! In some areas it is a lot more affordable to live..but the area is a drag...and jobs are ridiculously scarce...I am actually moving to New York City..I did the math..and I come out way ahead over there :). Wilkes Barres is a little better than Erie..

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

92 months ago

I feel that way too. My early bosses were all dreams to work for, even with all the mad rushes to meet deadlines. I've done litigation for the past 26 years.

Lately, these characters I've run into are in serious need of manners training. Everything you say does not have to be punctuated with epithets. I've run into people who scream at the top of their lungs.

I ran into the law clerk of a guy I temped for who cursed out everybody, including his clients. The law clerk told me that the man dropped dead in the office during one of his "rant and rave" episodes. I looked it up on the State Bar's website - sure enough the man was dead.

Hate to say this - but that's what he gets. That kind of behavior is bad for your own health and that of people around you.

I worked for a wonderful lady for ten years. She died last year from complications of breast cancer. I've been looking since then. I found a job. Attorney was a curser and a person who ignored the calendar and reminders and was forever getting sanctions. He was also frequently overdrawn on his bank account, had vendors freeze his accounts, and his credit card for non-payment so that I ended up advancing monies for various things on my Visa. Luckily, the lady I replaced had to come back, so he let me go.

I do not plan to put up with any type of abuse. I love doing legal work, take all kinds of CLE and computer classes, and try to keep abreast of new developments. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will find someone like my early bosses and the lady who died to work for. If I want nursery school behavior, I'll get a job in a nursery school. At least I can sit them down to take a "time out."

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Pam of Middle Village, NY in South Plainfield, New Jersey

92 months ago

DC said: MY REPLY:
PAM DO NOT MOVE HERE!I am living in Erie which is the worst place ever for jobs! I have lived in about 6 different states..and so far Pennsylvania (parts of it) have proven to be the WORST PAY! In some areas it is a lot more affordable to live..but the area is a drag...and jobs are ridiculously scarce...I am actually moving to New York City..I did the math..and I come out way ahead over there :). Wilkes Barres is a little better than Erie..

DC -- Well Wilkes-Barre is where I would actually want to work or Scranton and live in a town in Luzerne County. If you are moving to NYC and need a great great headhunter go to Legal Placements. They are a top notch recruiting firm, first class professionals all the way. When I was looking for a job 2 1/2 years ago I went to a couple of other recruiting firms and they were below par. Here it is completely different; the person to see is Kevin Considine, address is 330 Madison Avenue and their phone number is 646-495-5146. Let them know Pam Thompson recommended you to them. The website is www.legalplacements.com Keep me posted of your progress. Good Luck!!

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Mary in Los Angeles, California

92 months ago

Cathy in New Jersey said: ~ The salaries really depend upon how much experience you have in New Jersey and also depends upon where you send your resume. I have over 14 years experience as a Legal Secretary and have been told many times over by potential employers that I have alot of experience, in particular, diversified which suggests that I am capable of handling a variety of assignments in the different fields of law. However, the most I have been offered throughout my career was $40,500 per year working for up to 3 attorneys on a daily basis which is very unfortunate.

I'm feeling very grateful for my salary, $60K working for 1 PI lawyer; with 1 paralegal in a 2 lawyer PI/mass Tort firm in Santa Monica/West Los Angeles area. I've been a legal secretary (that title gets us the Overtime too, don't forget) for 14 years and it's allowed me to raise my son and have some fun too. Can't own a home in LA though!896

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Dyann in Orlando, Florida

90 months ago

Sometimes I have made more, sometimes less. Benefits are important too.

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Lea in Orlando, Florida

89 months ago

Pam in NY in Middle Village, New York said: I am living in NY right now and work in Manhattan, NY but I am thinking of relocating to the Scranton area of Pennsylvania. I know New York is much more expensive to live and so the salaries are higher, but can anyone tell me what the salaries are like in this area? Wilkes-Barre as well. Also which city would be the best place to look for work? I have 20 years of corporate legal experience. Any information on a sample salary would be helpful. Thank you.

Please do not move to Orlando, Florida

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Pam of Middle Village, NY in Franklin Park, New Jersey

89 months ago

Don't worry I won't be moving to Orlando any time in my lifetime. I am not a Florida fan, just too hot, but thanks for the tip anyway :-)

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Cindy in Lexington, Kentucky

89 months ago

Here in Kentucky, a paralegal makes below poverity level pay. I have been a paralegal for 4 years now and still around 30K.

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Deborah James in Belvedere Tiburon, California

89 months ago

Salary varies according to your location. Usually, the cost of living is also accordingly adjusted. There are paralegals in the San Francisco area who make low six figure salaries, it's still not enough to purchase a home. In fact, there are attorneys who can't afford to buy homes.

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Rebecca in Houston, Texas

89 months ago

HOUSTON ONLY:
Does anyone know the salary ranges for "Specialized Litigation" ? Specifically, White Collar Crime Defense ?

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Shelly in Manchester, New Hampshire

88 months ago

Okay, I started off getting a lucky break working for a small IP law firm with a generous older lawyer from a friend. I worked for this law firm twice before getting laid off due to downsizing. I now currently working for a large law firm in the IP dept. I am finding that my paralegal degree and my experience as a legal secretary is what has given me the boost for employers to look my way. Don't get me wrong, it took me over a year to get another job! For the experience and education I have, my pay is decent, but I expect my salary to increase as I get more experience with this job with the larger firm. FYI,...it took me over a year to get this job. I sent resumes out to every law office in my area that I thought would be a good fit for my interests and skills several times a week. If being a paralegal is what you want to do...maybe starting off as a legal secretary might be your in. Learn legal terms...get your paralegal certificate/degree..just educate yourself and be positive. Some companies do pay more..I have found that law offices in Boston, MA and Washington,DC pay quite well, last I looked--of course, I was looking in the IP firms.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

88 months ago

I thinnk that those are very good suggestions. IP is a well paid area of law.

My main areas have been Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice. I had a medical background before entering the legal field. I'm working in Employment law now and really like it.

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Pam of Middle Village, NY in New York, New York

88 months ago

Hello everyone. I was working in corporate securities for at least ten years and now branched out to working with bond counsel as their assistant, participating in closings and being more involved in the process of the paper closing transcripts as well as preparing the electronic transcripts then sending the paper transcripts off to the bindery. It's very rewarding to see a deal begin and have it end. The only problem is that if I should choose to move to the part in Pennsylvania I want, there is no bond counsel in the immediate area. I would then go back into corporate securities, but love them both anyway. Have a good day everyone! :-)

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Ann, Greater Boston area in Arlington Heights, Massachusetts

87 months ago

Hello, to answer the original question, the salaries vary depending on location, a size of a firm, legal area and, of course, experience. I'd say they can start from around 25,000 to 32,000 in a small firm in Boston/suburbs. I wonder if anybody has an idea about the monsters like Ropes&Gray or Skadden, etc.: how much do they pay, say, entry paralegals and what's the atmosphere in the firms like these? Also, what kind of job can a legal secretary with 3+ experience expect to find after getting a paralegal certificate?

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Deborah James in San Francisco, California

87 months ago

A lot of smaller firms hire what's called "legal assistants," meaning you'd have paralegal and legal secretary duties. Large firms tend to be a bit more regulated. Here's a website that has most of the major law firms. You can access the firms' websites directly and go to the careers section to see if they are hiring and get a general idea of what the pay range is.

www.nalpdirectory.com/

Some firms are sticklers for ABA approved certificates, others just want a certificate from an accredited school.

Deborah James

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krashkey in Winter Park, Florida

87 months ago

Good luck getting your first job. I went ahead and got my bachelors in the subject and I have landed one interview to date. All the jobs I've seen have required more than 2 years experience, and I just don't know how or where to get it. I am in Orlando also but I didn't have any luck in Fort Lauderdale, either.

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DC in Chicago, Illinois

87 months ago

Pam of Middle Village, NY in South Plainfield, New Jersey said: DC -- Well Wilkes-Barre is where I would actually want to work or Scranton and live in a town in Luzerne County. If you are moving to NYC and need a great great headhunter go to Legal Placements. They are a top notch recruiting firm, first class professionals all the way. When I was looking for a job 2 1/2 years ago I went to a couple of other recruiting firms and they were below par. Here it is completely different; the person to see is Kevin Considine, address is 330 Madison Avenue and their phone number is 646-495-5146. Let them know Pam Thompson recommended you to them. The website is www.legalplacements.com Keep me posted of your progress. Good Luck!!

Hey thanks for the information. I actually landed a job at a hedgefund. Citadel to be exact. I'm 22, I have my own studio in Middle Village Queens..and for the first time I have plenty of money lol. I thought it would be hard in NY..but it has proven to have many opportunities..I realize it's a little bit of a hassle though..but I don't have a family to raise and I am no where near planning on one..so it's convenient for me. It's great to not even need a car out here..I save soooo much money not having one. :o).

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Terry in Columbia, Maryland

87 months ago

Susie in Berkeley, CA said: Salaries, for experienced legal secretaries, in New York City, range from $55K to $80K, depending on the difficulty of the assignment.472

Wow, that's better than medical coding---maybe I should drop my CPC certification and become a legal secretary.

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Deborah James in San Francisco, California

87 months ago

DC in Chicago, Illinois said: Hey thanks for the information. I actually landed a job at a hedgefund. Citadel to be exact. I'm 22, I have my own studio in Middle Village Queens..and for the first time I have plenty of money lol. I thought it would be hard in NY..but it has proven to have many opportunities..I realize it's a little bit of a hassle though..but I don't have a family to raise and I am no where near planning on one..so it's convenient for me. It's great to not even need a car out here..I save soooo much money not having one. :o).

_____________________________________________________________

Congratulations! There are so few people wanting to become legal secretaries that it really is a wide open field now.

I know what you mean about not having a car. When I split with my husband, that was one of the first things I decided could go. It's great to be in an urban area. I'm across the bay from San Francisco and take the ferry in. It's a 20 minute ride and then 15 minutes by bus. I take a shuttle that gets me to the ferry terminal in 10 minutes.

To Terry in Maryland. Your background would be perfect for firms practicing Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, and other health related law practices.

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Deborah James in San Francisco, California

87 months ago

krashkey in Winter Park, Florida said: Good luck getting your first job. I went ahead and got my bachelors in the subject and I have landed one interview to date. All the jobs I've seen have required more than 2 years experience, and I just don't know how or where to get it. I am in Orlando also but I didn't have any luck in Fort Lauderdale, either.

_____________________________________________________

Are you looking for a legal secretary position or a paralegal position? I've never heard of a bachelor's in Legal Secretary studies. There is a list serv, ParalegalGateway, that is nationwide and there are a lot of recruiters and hiring personnel of firms who participate in that list serve.

groups.yahoo.com/group/ParalegalGateway/

Deborah James

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Mary in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

*Wow, that's better than medical coding---maybe I should *drop my CPC certification and become a legal secretary.

Don't drop your medical training. Legal secretarial pays well in urban areas but it's a horrible job. I did it for ten years and I'm finally out, THANK GOD! It scarred me for life. I'm making $17,000 LESS a year and it's the best move I ever made, just to get the heck out! I wouldn't go back to that freakshow for 100K a year.

Legal secretarial is truly menial and the pay is what it is only because the treatment you'll receive is so poor and the camraderie is nil.

There are a few secretaries who luck out in their "careers" and work for nice polite generous attorneys who are loyal enough to take the secretary with him/her when they change firms, but for most it's a nightmare and the environment of most large firms is cold at best but often outright hostile.

DON'T BECOME A LEGAL SECRETARY unless you're a glutton for punishment or unless you're so money hungry that you tune out all your sanity, principals and sensitivity so you can vacation in the Caribbean once a year and eat out 4 times a week. For anyone in their right mind, it's just not worth it.

Take a stroll around the inner sanctums of a city litigation lawfirm and you'll encounter some seriously jaded, angry women (a/k/a legal secretaries) who, after saying hello when you first start, will never again give you the time of day except when they're back stabbing you.

Stay out of legal secretarial. And for those of you silly enough to still be in it, start planning your escape while you still have all your marbles and before your spirit has been entirely broken.

End rant :)

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Terry in Baltimore, Maryland

87 months ago

Thanks for the advice---currently do temp work as a legal assistant (ending soon, finally), just wish I had a permanent job in healthcare to go to.

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Deborah James in San Francisco, California

87 months ago

Take a stroll around the inner sanctums of a city litigation lawfirm and you'll encounter some seriously jaded, angry women (a/k/a legal secretaries) who, after saying hello when you first start, will never again give you the time of day except when they're back stabbing you.

Stay out of legal secretarial. And for those of you silly enough to still be in it, start planning your escape while you still have all your marbles and before your spirit has been entirely broken.

End rant :)

_____________________________________________________________

As you point out, most large law firms are nightmares. Some small firms are that way as well. I've had some decent jobs, really like where I'm at now and hope to retire from this position.

Your description fits many paralegals and attorneys as well. I think it's like any other field - some good, some bad.

I was lucky that I started out working for very decent attorneys. Some of the idiots I've seen since that time would have had me headed out of the field as well.

Oh, the stories I could tell. Still, there are some decent jobs to be found.

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Pam in Middle Village, New York

87 months ago

Don't be so negative. I'm sure she doesn't want to hear your negative opinion. It is very rewarding and you learn a lot too and do gain respect as I've learned. Grant it, there are those who are a pain to deal with but in ANY position and ANY company, you take the good with the bad. Besides, there is more to working in a law firm than just litigation, you have corporate, real estate, IP, labor, etc. Good luck and if you want to become a legal secretary, I'd say go for it! Good luck to you.

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Pam in Middle Village, New York

87 months ago

DC in Chicago, Illinois said: Hey thanks for the information. I actually landed a job at a hedgefund. Citadel to be exact. I'm 22, I have my own studio in Middle Village Queens..and for the first time I have plenty of money lol. I thought it would be hard in NY..but it has proven to have many opportunities..I realize it's a little bit of a hassle though..but I don't have a family to raise and I am no where near planning on one..so it's convenient for me. It's great to not even need a car out here..I save soooo much money not having one. :o).

Wow, I think I know the company you are talking about. I have a friend who worked with me at the law firm, left to go to UBS and now I think she is at Citadel in Midtown Manhattan. You're in Middle Village? I'd love to meet another comrad who is in the area. In any case, drop me a line if you would like, I can show you around if you are new to the area. My email is ladypamela123@yahoo.com.

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Mary in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

A variety of opinions, both negative and positive, should be taken into consideration when mulling over a decision to become a legal secretary, lion tamer, dry cleaner, pile driver or any other profession.

Out of the hundreds of legal secretaries I've known and worked with in my 10 years in the law business assisting the corporate, litigation, and trust/estate departments, only about 25% of those secretaries were happy they'd chosen to work as such and stay in the business. The other 75% disliked it considerably but felt trapped by the $$$ they were earning and had nothing else to fall back on.

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jak in New York, New York

87 months ago

Rebecca in Houston, Texas said: HOUSTON ONLY:
Does anyone know the salary ranges for "Specialized Litigation" ? Specifically, White Collar Crime Defense ?

I work for a rainmaker in NYC specializing in IP Trademarks and White Collar Lit for a mid-level national firm. I'll be starting my second year with a base of $76K. I came here with approximately 8 years of experience.

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dh in Roseville, California

87 months ago

I agree 100% about being trapped. I consider it crappy pay. In Orange County, CA, I made enough money to keep my daughter and I from starving and being homeless and also to prevent my car from being repoed. The job doesn't provide much more of a lifestyle than that. I was also able to rent an apartment in a decent neighborhood. But at 55K/year ('06), that's not enough to ever become a homeowner, to actually travel somewhere on a real vacation, nor to retire at a decent age. I felt trapped because firms expect secretaries to make a career out of this line of work. Considering the crappy nature of the job and the lack of opportunities for advancement - it's not like you're working for a corporation with a ladder of succes to climb - I can't fathom why they expect you to do it for life, but they do.

Going back to school to prepare for a career change can be tricky. I decided years ago to make a career change and started night classes. At job interviews, I always ask if overtime is required because I will turn the job down if it is. Once an interviewer pressed me why I asked. Well, you can't say you have to pick a kid up from daycare, and I couldn't come up with a "safe" answer; so I admitted that I took night classes. Firms look down on that. She wanted to know why I was going and what classes I was taking. I lied and said I was taking investment classes, learning how to save for retirement. That was a "safe" answer.

So if you're going to school at night and looking for another secretarial job in the meantime, it can be tricky going thru the interview process. You can't give them a hint that you're preparing to get out of this awful industry, and you can't stay late because you have to get to class!!

Also where I worked, I felt like it was closer to 90% of secretaries who were unhappy with this profession.

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dh in Roseville, California

87 months ago

Mary in Boston, Massachusetts said: *Wow, that's better than medical coding---maybe I should *drop my CPC certification and become a legal secretary.

To Mary in Boston, MA: OMIGOD I agree with you 100%! I HATED HATED HATED being a legal secretary!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm curious, though, how you could afford a Caribbean vacation once a year?? I made 55K in Orange County, CA, in '06 when I left, and while I could afford to rent in a decent neighborhood and take good care of my daughter, my lifestyle was a little better than a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. I manage my money well and have no credit card debt. The secretaries I knew who had nice vacations had husbands or boyfriends with good jobs.

I agree with all that you said about the profession. And I can totally understand why you took a $17k paycut to get out. I returned to school full time and work 20 hours a week. Not only am I now living on 40% of what my salary was when I left over a year ago, I have almost depleted my entire life savings, and in January I will begin to accrue school loan debt (my savings will have been totally depleted at that point), which is scary because, at my age, I want to save for retirement, not pay off debt. I'm 40 now and will be 42 when I graduate from college. I don't want to retire at 80! I moved 400 miles away to a place with cheaper cost of living, uprooted my daughter so she had to start high school in a totally different area. I did all of this so that I CAN GET OUT OF BEING A LEGAL SECRETARY. I will take any risk, do anything, stop at nothing to get out. Life is too short.

I got in at 33 and left at 39. I felt like I'd done it for 30 years and felt too exhausted to work for a while after. To anyone who is considering this line of work PLEASE PLEASE reconsider.

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Anastasia in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

Girls,

Is there anybody from New England, who can help me with figuring out the salary range in Boston for legal secretary with 3 years experience and a paralegal certificate (no paralegal experience beyond legal secretary experience)? The numbers are so broad: 25K-75K so, I'm totally confused... Thank you

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Anastasia in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

Thank you for the prompt response. I guess, asking for 40K+ wouldn't be too much for a large firm.

Anybody else would like to comment on that? Thank you.

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Deborah James in San Francisco, California

87 months ago

Have you checkec www.craigslist.com to see what the current salaries being offered are?

Salary depends not only on experience, but on the geograhical area you are working in. You don't want to undersell yourself.

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Anastasia in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

Thank you, Deborah, for the Craigslist idea (the most obvious I haven't thought of). You're absolutely right about underselling - then along with the general possible aggrevation there might be one extra - with yourself.

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dh in Roseville, California

87 months ago

Anastasia in Boston, Massachusetts said: Thank you, Deborah, for the Craigslist idea (the most obvious I haven't thought of). You're absolutely right about underselling - then along with the general possible aggrevation there might be one extra - with yourself.

A knowledgeable recruiter might be a good resource. In Orange County, when I was making $52.5K and considering returning to school full time, I called a recruiter with whom I'd dealt in the past to find out whether she had any part time positions. That's when I found out that secretaries with my experience level were making $60k, and she had just placed a secretary in a position with a "difficult" attorney, that paid $64K. This was in '05. My point is that the recruiter had a lot of knowledge and was a great resoure for knowing how much a legal secretary should get paid according to her experience. It's also when I realized we have to make a lateral move every few years to keep up with the going rate! Anyways, contacting a local recruiter might be a good way to get some valuable info.

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Mary in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

Anastasia, no legal secretary with 3 years of experience and a paralegal certificate would work for less than 50K a year in Boston and that's a low estimate.

Stay away from small firms and plaintiff's firms, the pay is lousy and they're not competitive. Plus, in firms such as those, you work in such close quarters with the weirdo lawyers that you can't scratch your butt without them noticing and looking askance at you more than they normally would anyway. The office will be so cozy, they'll be able to hear you chewing every bite of your sandwich while you try to eat it at your desk during the lunch hour they won't be giving you. And when you need to pass gas, you'll have to hold it in every time, cramps and all.

Any mid to large-sized firm in Boston specializing in defense or corporate would pay you a minimum of 50K which equals to about $600 take home a week. Which is diddly anyway. Don't think you'll even be able to afford so much as a 400 square foot condo on that wage.

Ask for 55 and then negotiate a bit downward but not below 50.

But aside from all that, GET OUT OF LEGAL SECRETARIAL FOR GOD'S SAKE!

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Mary in Boston, Massachusetts

87 months ago

Hi DH,

Actually I've never seen the Caribbean because I could never afford to go as a legal secretary. Probably you're right. Now that I'm thinking about it, it was the secretaries with husbands and boyfriends that took those trips. As a gal with neither, I could never afford it.

And yeah, I live in what would be considered by most to be an undesirable location due to the astronomical cost of living in Boston. I refuse to pay more than 1 week's gross pay in rent so it's extremely slim pickin's around here. My take-home was about $625 a week and the average 1 br apt. in a desirable neighborhood rents for about $1200.

So I slummed it and I didn't care.

It enabled me to save enough for the schooling that got me the heck out of legal secretarial.

I'm so happy to hear you hated it as much as you did. That's truly a sign of health, to recognize it for what it is and then DO SOMETHING TO IMPROVE YOUR LOT by going to night school. That totally rocks. You're an inspiration.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

87 months ago

Until I found my current job for a non-profit that does really good work, I too was thinking of leaving the legal field. I actually love legal work, it was just some of the nutcases that were really starting to get to me. Not to mention all the unethical things I was seeing.

I really did like having my own business as a Legal Document Assistant helping people who were representing themselves. Problem was there are not that many people who know enough about the law to do that, in spite of there being plenty of self-help clinics sponsored by the courts.

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dh in Roseville, California

87 months ago

Terry in Columbia, Maryland said: Wow, that's better than medical coding---maybe I should drop my CPC certification and become a legal secretary.

NONONO, Terry. Take if from me (and read the rest of these posts, especially from Mary in Massachusetts)- STAY OUT OF THE LEGAL FIELD, ESPECIALLY AS A LEGAL SECRETARY. YOU WILL HATE IT. I wish I had access to info like this so many years ago. I would not be, now at 40 years old, back in school as a full time student struggling with 20-hr-a-week pay so that I can prepare for a career change in order to get out of this industry. I risked everything - I depleted my life savings and will soon accrue school loan debt just so I could have a job (or rather, a career) that I enjoyed. I uprooted my daughter and moved to a cheaper part of the state, where she started high school in a strange area. There wasn't anything I wasn't willing to do to get out. I will be 42 when I graduate. With all that school loan debt, I hope I will retire at a decent age. I wouldn't be much better off on a secretary salary except turn out totally bitter and hateful, full of regrets in the end.

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dh in Northern CA, California

87 months ago

Hi Mary-

I'm curious what you do now that you left the legal industry? How are you liking it? You said something about a $17K paycut. How did you adjust to that? You have to take a risk, but it's so worth it, isn't it?

In Orange County, CA, I paid half month's salary for a 2+2 apt in Irvine. I lived in the cheapest complex in the city (or should I say least expensive?).

I moved to Northern CA, work 20 hours a week and now am a full-time day student. My firm there had originally agreed to allow me to work p/t days so that I could take day classes, but they later renigged (sp?). My partner was very angry because "I need someone here to answer my phone. You know the clients; you know the files." Not only did he not want me as a part timer, he didn't want to start over with someone else, i.e., he expected me to forget my plans to return to school full time. Are you kidding me? Give up an opportunity to prepare for a career so that I can be someone else's puppet for the rest of my life, helping him get rich while I'll never have anything to show for it? Hellooww! Legal secretarial work is nothing but a JOB, and JOB is an acronym for Just Over Broke. A career has opportunity for growth and room for advancement.

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Nicci in Redmond, Washington

87 months ago

I have a BA degree and went back to school to get a Paralegal Certificate from an ABA approved program. I have some internship experience. I have had many interviews but nothing becomes of it. I finally got a break and worked as a Paralegal for a medium size law firm in Estate Planning mainly. The attorneys treated the paralegals like crap, I was promised my own office...never happened, I shared an office w/2 other paralegals that I didn't get along with. I really disliked going in after a month of being there...I started going just for the money. I was paid $31,200. I quit. I am now looking into another field. I have looked at other paralegal positions but I lack the experience. I feel like I am stuck.

I noticed for big coporations and big law firm ask for a college degree plus certificate and then 3-5 yrs exp...I don't even bother applying. I don't really get legal secretary interviews since most don't require a degree. I feel like they think I will stay for the experience and leave. I have also considered moving to CA, I have seen more paralegal positions I can apply for but I should NOT have to move just to find a paralegal position. Ugh.

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