Eight Work Traits of a Successful Secretary

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01Jun2013

Eight Work Traits of a Successful Secretary

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By Sally Kane

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So you’ve mastered the core skills of a legal secretary.  How do you set yourself apart as a stand-out secretarial professional?

Here are eight traits of a successful secretary.

1. Reliable
Since a legal secretary is the attorney’s right-hand person, reliability is crucial.  A secretary who is punctual, timely, accurate, and honest is the cornerstone of a successful law practice.

2. Self-Starting
The most successful secretaries have drive and initiative. They do not sit waiting for attorney instructions or assignments; they pick up a file, determine what needs to be done and do it. They anticipate the employer’s needs and are willing to step beyond their comfort zone to learn new skills.

3. Efficient
In a law firm, efficiency translates into dollars; in a corporation, efficiency can yield cost savings.  Secretaries who perform their jobs quickly and efficiently contribute to the bottom line, making themselves indispensible.

4. Discrete
Since legal secretaries handle confidential client files and data, discretion is essential. Disclosing confidential information, inadvertently or on purpose, is one of the quickest ways to damage a legal career.

5. Flexible
Attorneys appreciate secretaries who are flexible and adaptive.  Those willing to work late or come in early to get the job done and who readily adapt to new, different, or changing work requirements will be most valued by their employers.

6. Tactful
Issues often arise between litigating parties and between overworked co-workers.  The secretary who handles these issues with diplomacy and tact, smoothing over differences or forging solutions to workplace disputes, will become invaluable members of the legal team.

7. Pleasant
Let’s face it: No one likes to work with a grumpy, demanding, or negative employee.  Secretaries with a pleasant demeanor and positive attitude, who are able to put aside personal challenges to accomplish job objectives, and who are friendly to co-workers and courteous to clients will go far in the workplace.

8. Patient
Attorneys are not always the easiest bunch to work with. Some attorneys are chronic procrastinators, others have overblown egos, and others are woefully disorganized.  Legal secretaries must be able to handle all personality types and work challenges with patience and grace.

About the Author

Sally Kane is an attorney, editor and writer specializing in legal, career and business topics. She has published hundreds of career-related articles in print and web-based media and serves as editor-in-chief of Paralegal Today, an international magazine covering the paralegal profession, and editor for Litigation Support Today, an international magazine serving the litigation support profession. Her latest project is a legal careers book to be published by Delmar, Cengage Learning. You can follow her on Twitter at sallyannekane.

This article was posted on about.com.

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