WHAT DO LEGAL SECRETARIES DO THESE DAYS? . . . Even just a few years ago, it was rare that lawyers at large firms would use email to communicate with opposing counsel. But now this seems to be the norm, at least in my practice. There are some exceptions, such as lengthy letters about discovery or letters that might need to be attached as exhibits to a brief. But for the most part, email has almost replaced letter-writing, just as it has almost replaced making calls on the telephone.
For both phone calls and letters, there used to be a middleman--the legal secretary. The secretary would screen the phone calls or type up a lawyer's dictation into a complete letter. This still goes on, of course, but to a much lesser extent. Legal secretaries were also called upon to type briefs and other legal documents. These tasks are also being assumed by lawyers, at least the younger ones, who often write briefs themselves on their computers. Who dictates briefs anymore?
In my own practice, the legal secretaries are all but gone, replaced by paralegals, who have added typing the occasional letter to their job descriptions. My own practice is heavily paralegal dependent: paralegals can request and organize medical records, assist clients with discovery answers, review documents, and so on.
Meanwhile, while the large firms once had two lawyers per secretary, I bet the ratio is now closer to 4:1 to 5:1. Are there fewer secretaries than there used to be, or are they all just becoming paralegals?