What Does a Law Firm Receptionist Do?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux

In a legal office, a law firm receptionist interacts with clients, drafts correspondence, takes care of case files and bills those who have used the firm's services. As the face of the law office, the receptionist is expected to perform other duties such as keeping her work area clean to represent the firm positively. If the receptionist also has paralegal certification, she may provide more direct support to members of the office.

A law firm's receptionist is typically the first person a client encounters.
A law firm's receptionist is typically the first person a client encounters.

A law firm receptionist typically is the first person that a client encounters upon entering, phoning or emailing the law office. Subsequently, the receptionist must respond to or route calls or other correspondence, greet the client and provide as much information as possible. She also might direct the clients to refreshments within the lobby, escort the client to the attorney's office, or tell the client how long the wait will be to see the attorney if the client does not have an appointment. Excellent social and verbal communication skills are a must for these tasks.

Law firm receptionists may schedule client meetings for an attorney.
Law firm receptionists may schedule client meetings for an attorney.

Another task a law firm receptionist usually completes is drafting correspondence. Some of the correspondence is fairly simple, such as responding to an email regarding the availability or fees of the attorney(s). Other correspondence is much more complex, such as letters to other attorneys or courts. For this correspondence, the receptionist has to have an adequate understanding of legal terminology and regulations.

Law firm receptionists often type up case briefs for attorneys.
Law firm receptionists often type up case briefs for attorneys.

In some law firms, it is also the duty of the law firm receptionist to create, maintain and retrieve case files for the attorney(s). Often this is done electronically via databases in order to increase efficiency and save space in the office, so legal receptionists have to be comfortable using computers and related technology. If an attorney needs specific documents printed and assembled for reference and use outside of the office, the receptionist handles these needs, as well. She should be able to do this quickly, such as if the attorney needs to rush to an emergency court hearing. Much of the information within client files is confidential, so a law firm receptionist must be able to keep the files secure via software programs or other mechanisms such as drawer, cabinet or safe locks.

Law firm receptionists need to be able to multitask effectively.
Law firm receptionists need to be able to multitask effectively.

Some attorneys also expect a law firm receptionist to handle aspects of billing. This includes providing receipts and invoices, notifying clients of outstanding charges, informing clients of the methods of payments accepted and setting up and monitoring the firm's bank or other accounts. If the receptionist discovers a billing error, she must take steps to correct the error such as issuing a refund check or offering the client a credit.

Law firm receptionists might be asked to draft letters with information that is to remain a secret within the firm or with clients.
Law firm receptionists might be asked to draft letters with information that is to remain a secret within the firm or with clients.

Similar to other receptionists, a law firm receptionist is expected to complete "other duties as assigned." For general duties, this can mean anything from grabbing a cup of coffee for an important client or putting up some decorations in the office on holidays. In some cases, law firm receptionists double as paralegals, however, in which case they provide more direct support for the attorney, often accompanying the attorney to court and conducting primary case research.

Law firm receptionists will need to know how to manage sensitive and confidential documents.
Law firm receptionists will need to know how to manage sensitive and confidential documents.
A law firm receptionist may be responsible for greeting clients.
A law firm receptionist may be responsible for greeting clients.
A law firm receptionist may escort clients to the lawyer's office.
A law firm receptionist may escort clients to the lawyer's office.

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Discussion Comments

Raynbow

@talentryto- Tell your niece that working as a law firm receptionist would be ideal for her if she wants to go into the field of law. Though she would primarily be in a support position, she would get valuable first-hand knowledge about how laws and law offices work. She may also find that this type of position will give her the added benefit of networking within the field, which could lead to a job as a paralegal as soon as she graduates from college.

When she applies to different law firms to be a receptionist, she should include in her cover letter that she is pursing a paralegal degree. This should get the attention of those who will be interviewing for the position, and give her the advantage of having an interest and experience in the law field.

Talentryto

I was wondering if a position as a law firm receptionist would be a good first step for a young person who wants to go into the field of law. Does anyone have any thoughts? My niece wants to be a paralegal, but she has to work while in college. I thought this would be a good position for her until she gets her degree.

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