Key steps to writing a legal secretary resume
A 5-step resume guide for becoming a legal secretary, including writing tips, advice, and examples. Topics covered include resume formats, summaries, key skills, work experience, and education.
Legal secretaries have major roles to play supporting teams of attorneys and lawyers. From file management to scheduling meetings, there are many key responsibilities held by legal secretaries that make employers seek out talented and motivated professionals to fill the position.
In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about writing a resume as a legal secretary.
Keep reading to learn how to:
- Select a resume format that matches your experience level
- Write a compelling resume summary as a legal secretary
- Choose skills that show you are a multi-talented legal secretary
- Show your strengths as a legal secretary in your work experience section
- Include certifications within your education section
1. Select a resume format that matches your experience level
When writing your resume, the first big decision to make is what format you will use. Resume formats differ in purpose, with each focusing on a different section or element of the resume. The deciding factor on which format to use often comes down to your experience level.
The 3 main formatting options and their purposes are as follows:
- Reverse-chronological: The reverse-chronological resume focuses almost entirely on work experience, placing other sections such as education and skills into smaller sections in sidebars or beneath the main work experience section. While this is the standard format expected by most employers, it also requires you to have enough relevant work history to fill out the document.
- Functional: The functional resume takes the focus off work experience and instead highlights education, skills, and unpaid experience. This resume format is typically used by recent graduates with little to no formal work experience, but have experience gained via academics, volunteer work, and extracurriculars.
- Hybrid: The hybrid resume combines elements of both of the above formats, spreading the focus of the document more evenly between all sections. This format is well-suited for applicants who have some relevant experience and may be switching career paths or working around large gaps in their employment history.
2. Write a compelling resume summary as a legal secretary
Writing a resume summary allows you to provide an employer with the most important details from your resume upfront. This gives you the opportunity to impress them and hook their attention, increasing the likelihood you hear back about an interview.
Check out this example of a weak summary, followed by a corrected example and explanation:
Incorrect legal secretary resume summary example:
Legal Secretary with many years of experience working in both large and small law firms. Excels in a fast-paced environment with a strong knack for time management and organization. Well-versed in administrative technology.
What's wrong with this example? In this example, the applicant provides very little specificity around their best strengths, areas of expertise, and accomplishments. As you write your resume summary, you should ask yourself what details will help to interest and excite employers.
Corrected legal secretary resume summary example example:
Certified Legal Secretary with 6+ years of experience working in both large and small law firms. Specialized in corporate law, with exceptional time-management and organizational skills. Assisted in the implementation of electronic file management software at 3 major firms, increasing search and discovery efficiency by 15%.
Why is this better? In this corrected example, the applicant is much more specific regarding their years of experience and specializations. They include the key accomplishment of implementing new software that resulted in an increase in efficiency for multiple firms. The language used is much more engaging, helping the applicant to catch the attention of the reader.
3. Choose skills that show you are a multi-talented legal secretary
As a legal secretary, your technical administrative and management skills are highly important. However, it is important to pay attention to your interpersonal abilities as well, as you will be responsible for a lot of the internal and external communication occurring within a law firm.
With this in mind here are 10 ideas for technical skills and 10 ideas for interpersonal skills that are excellent to include on your resume:
- Drafting Routine Correspondence
- Preparing & Proofreading Documents
- Electronic File Management
- Word Processing Software (Microsoft 365, Google Docs, etc.)
- Legal Research & Due Diligence
- Filing Memos
- Basic Computer Skills (Creating spreadsheets, writing emails, etc.)
- Serving Legal Forms and Court Documents
- Typing Speed (Most legal secretary employers want at least 50 words per minute)
- Strict Adherence to Deadlines
- Active Listening
- Time Management
- Verbal and Written Communication
- Exceptional Memory
4. Show your strengths as a legal secretary in your work experience section
When describing your experience gained from past jobs, you want to go beyond simply listing your responsibilities. You should focus on creating a work experience section that highlights your best strengths and any accomplishments you may have achieved.
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a legal secretary resume:
Legal Secretary | Jack & Jackson Law Associates
Austin, TX | May 2018 to August 2021
- Managed, organized, and analyzed caseloads for 8 attorneys.
- Introduced a new word processing software that increased file management efficiency by 15%.
- Coordinated and scheduled client meetings, including updates to public calendars, decreasing missed meetings by 20%.
5. Include certifications within your education section
Although having a two- or four-year degree can give you a significant competitive edge, the baseline educational requirement for becoming a legal secretary is a high school diploma or GED.
No matter what level of education you have, you should always include the name of your certificate or degree, the name of the school or certifying institution, and the date(s) of completion.
Additionally, if you have completed relevant certification programs outside of your formal education, you should always include these as well. If you have more than 3, you may even want to create a dedicated "Certifications" section.
Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a legal secretary resume:
- Associate's Degree in Administration Management | Wytheville Community College
- Galax, VA | 2017-2019
- Professional Legal Secretary | National Association for Legal Support Professionals
- Word Processing and Desktop Publishing Certificate | Wytheville Community College