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Legal file clerks are essential to the workflow in a law office. They perform a variety of duties, from greeting clients to keeping legal documents at the attorneys' fingertips. This is an administrative position that doesn't require legal knowledge to get started. A high school degree is usually sufficient to land a legal file clerk job, although some law offices prefer applicants with an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in business or office management.
As would be expected, legal file clerks spend a good bit of their time filing. Law offices produce huge volumes of paperwork, all of which must be meticulously filed. Clerks also organize law manuals and keep track of attorneys' continuing education credits. File clerks serve as the last line of defense to catch missing documents. For example, a file clerk who notices that the signature page is missing from a divorce agreement can notify the attorney immediately and correct it. A file clerk isn't expected to know what documents each legal case needs, but through on-the-job training, she can learn to spot major oversights.
Technology has changed the way many law offices handle their filing systems, which means that the scope of a legal file clerk's duties include more than traditional paper filing. While law offices still tend to keep paper copies of legal documents, many use electronic filing systems as well. Legal file clerks must be computer literate, able to navigate through the electronic filing system and learn how to properly keyword documents so the attorneys can pull them up in a search.
Legal file clerks often work in the front office area at least part of the day, greeting clients and answering the phones. They usually help open and distribute the mail, and they assist with general office duties, such as making copies and preparing information packets. The amount of time spent performing receptionist and office duties varies by law office; a file clerk might fill in for the full-time receptionist during lunch or she might split the duties with another file clerk if there's no full-time receptionist.
Writing and Transcription
Although legal file clerks don't usually draft legal documents, they are often required to compose letters relating to business matters, such as requesting a quote from a printer or asking for newspaper advertising rates. They also interact with staff, other attorney offices and occasionally clients by email, so they must be able to write intelligently. Also, file clerks might take notes for the attorneys during meetings or transcribe the attorneys' handwritten notes.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.