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Ask Eula Mae: Feeling Underappreciated

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Friday, January 12, 2018
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ask Eula MaeDear Eula Mae:


I’m a legal secretary in a large and very busy law firm in Manhattan and even though I am the “go to gal” for all kinds of tasks, I’m starting to feel more like an invisible robot than a person.  I have great skills in answering the phone, managing people in lobby, completing on time what my bosses ask me to do, I type really fast at 120 wpm, and make a great cup of coffee.  I’m happy to be in my job and serve people, but sometimes feel ignored or used or really like the low man on the totem pole.  Everything is so fast and everyone is so busy, and I’m proud to be a legal secretary and fill in on the phones and glad to learn new things. I just feel like nobody sees me and the good work that I try to do.


 --Feeling Underappreciated in New York City


Dear Feeling Underappreciated:


Please understand that your role in the office is very important.  Every person in the office has different skills.  It is not really that they don’t see you, it is that most people are focused on their cases or their clients or on what they have to do in a day.  Being a legal secretary is a great job and a great career.  You may be more personable than most people and that is why you are able to work with the general public and your boss.  Not everyone can do that.  What I’m saying is to be proud of what you do anyway. Enjoy your job and the people you work with and serve.


The other part of this situation is knowing what it is you really want.  Do you want to be more than a secretary?  Moving up in a career may create less work-life balance, so you really have to know yourself.  Remember with a high-stress position there is less personal time. There are ways you can grow in your skills and confidence and know how far you want to go with a legal career.  Take it one step at a time.  First, stay involved in your local and state chapters of NALS and set a goal of attending an Annual NALS National Conference.  Visit the NALS website and look in the Library for publications, webinars, and online classes.  Watch for a NALS Basic Legal Training Course to attend in your area toward being certified. If there is not one, you could access NALS Online Study Hall, including study materials, in various formats.  Visit with your office human resources person to see if the firm is able to pay for some of your legal education and certification.  There are three levels of certification with a natural progression of education about the law: ALP/ALS, PLS/CLP, and PP, with a Specialty Certificate in many areas of law.  ALP/ALS is the Accredited Legal Professional/Accredited Legal Secretary; PLS/CLP is the Professional Legal Secretary/Certified Legal Professional; and PP means the certified Professional Paralegal.  Specialty Certificates are for PLS/CLPs and PPs whose careers are focused in various areas of law, such as real estate, family law, criminal law, etc.   It is a good idea to investigate what is required of each so you will know exactly what your plan will be.  The best part of a legal career is that you can learn more and more about the law.  Some Professional Paralegals have gone on to become attorneys. 


Being a legal secretary takes a special person with special skills and you are about to take the best journey of your life in discovering each step of growing your own career in law.


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