15 years ago it was common for there to be one legal secretary for one-to-two lawyers in mid to larger law firms. Today that ratio can be four-to-five lawyers per legal secretary. 

This statistic is highlighted in a new survey report, Legal Support Staff Survey in which 800 legal support staff provided responses to questions about the way work was handled inside their firms.  

Work practices struggle to adapt

One fifth (20%) of survey respondents said that passing work from one person to another was due to it being incorrectly allocated in the first instance.

Emailing instructions from lawyer to secretary is the most commonly used method for delegating work. Surprisingly, the majority of secretaries surveyed said that verbal instructions were still used in their firms and shockingly, 24% of survey participants said they are “very likely” to receive tasks by Post-it-Note.

In firms where lawyers rely on support staff to get tasks done, they are relying on an increasingly shared service in which communication and work processes are more important than ever before.

The Legal Support Staff Survey report, published by BigHand can be accessed at