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Monday, July 30, 2007

Where have all the legal secretaries gone?

Minnesota Lawyer this week has a story on a major issue facing the local legal profession -- the lack of an adequate number of legal secretaries and other office support personnel for law firms. (See "Lawyers facing a critical shortage of office support personnel," password required.)

This phenomenon is attributable primarily to two factors -- the growing number of lawyers in the state and the shrinking pool of qualified candidates for these support jobs. An added issue is that the average age of secretaries and other support workers has been creeping steadily upward, creating concerns about who will fill these posts when the upcoming wave of retirements hits. The Minnesota Lawyer article chronicles some of the proactive steps some local law firms are taking to head off a crisis, including becoming involved in certification programs.

One easy thing that lawyers can do is to treat their support people well. Such individuals are the ones who keep the office running and should always be treated accordingly. Another thing is to make sure support workers have tasks that they consider interesting. If you would be incredibly bored doing their job, what makes you think they aren't?

While the shortage of law office support staff grows, the law schools continue to pump out new lawyers. If the current trends continue unabated, the lawyers may soon themselves fetching the coffee for the support staff.


PT-LawMom said...

LOL! I would love to see my attorneys fetching me coffee. In the city where I live, the secretaries have been with the firm for 20+ years. I'll be interested to see who will replace them (although I won't be around because, you guessed it, I'm in law school!) I think that too many people see secretarial work as beneath them. If they realized the myriad projects they could work on, the access they would have, etc., I think they might realize that secretarial positions are much better than paralegal positions. Plus they pay better over the long term. You should speak with someone at NALS (the National Association of Legal Secretaries). They certify legal secretaries and can help employers find a good candidate.

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if legal secretaries have to make coffee for their bosses. That seems kind of degrading to someone in a professional environment, I mean I make coffees for people all the time at work, and I am a big ugly man. But I worked in a coffee shop you know so its a bit different. Gee it would make me feel kind of useless so I can understand why so women would want to work in this field.

I have also heard that lawyers treat their secretaries like grabage I was wondering is this mostly fact of fiction, or a few bitter angry people telling me false stories ?