Job Competencies of Legal Secretaries and Paralegals as Perceived by Selected Members of NALS . . . the Association for Legal Professionals
Type of DegreeDissertation
Curriculum and Teaching
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This national research study was conducted to determine the job competencies needed by legal secretaries and paralegals (or legal assistants). Legal secretaries and paralegals with membership in NALS . . . the association for legal professionals (NALS) were sampled. From a membership of 5,601, a 10% random sample was obtained from each of the eight geographical regions. A survey designed by the researcher was mailed to 564 members with 209 usable surveys being returned for a 37.06% response rate. The findings in this study are based on responses from 110 legal secretaries and 60 paralegals. SPSS 14.0 was used for data analysis which included multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), analysis of variance (ANOVA), Chi-Square, and descriptive statistics. Using a Likert-type scale in which 4 represented Absolutely Essential, 3 Very Important, 2 Somewhat Important, and 1 Not Important, respondents rated 45 job tasks that had been grouped into five job competencies (personal, communications, office, computer, and information processing). Significant differences (p = .05) were found in both office and information processing competencies. Additionally, significant differences occurred in four of the eight office competencies and in two of the eight information processing competencies. Respondents were given a list of selected computer software applications and asked to identify those they used on a weekly basis. Two software applications were statistically significant—word processing and calendaring/ docketing. Significant differences were identified in two of the selected demographics—obtaining professional certifications and the types of law firms in which respondents are employed. Possessing high ethical standards was the most highly rated trait by both legal secretaries and paralegals. Some post-secondary training is important for both legal secretaries and paralegals. One-third of paralegals reported they also perform some legal secretarial tasks while very few legal secretaries stated they perform paralegal duties.