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One of the most difficult aspects for managers is finding a secretary capable of doing the job, especially when there are so many who are clearly qualified. Often, and especially in a law firm, it can come down to how well the personalities mesh, says A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder of “Good legal secretaries come with a wide array of skills, some traditional and some not so traditional”, says Barnes.

For instance, those traditional skills include, of course, the ability to type legal documents fast and with no errors. That’s always the first thing employers look for, whether they’re in the legal field or not. Their organizational skills must also be flawless, too. Especially if the attorney she’s reporting doesn’t count organization as her strong point, she’s going to be looking for an assistant who has it down to a science. Phone etiquette is important and a friendly disposition that falls between too “sugary sweet” and too standoffish. These are all no-brainers for lawyers as they’re going through the many interviews they’ve likely conducted. But there are other considerations, too, says Barnes. These are the ones that aren’t as traditional as others.

The founder says social networking is the big “must have” these days. Law firms want to know their assistants can manage the company’s blog, Twitter accounts and even Facebook presences. The really good ones know how to change printer cartridges and can easily juggle two waiting clients when their boss is being held over in court. “It truly is a combination of many skills that must come together to define the right legal secretary”, says A. Harrison Barnes.

So what happens when you have several candidates, all of whom are perfectly suitable and are coming in really close as you go through the list? These are the times when it can come down to how well the interview went. Did Candidate A smile and was he sincere? Was Candidate B uncomfortable with that awkward moment of silence or did she gracefully slide into how many words per minute she types? Questions like these are ones you’ll likely find yourself considering. Sometimes, it’s a matter of selecting the candidate that just seemed to fit right in. And, too, says Barnes, sometimes the one who almost ran into your associate when you were escorting her down the hall to your office, yet managed to gracefully regain her composure could the one.

The education, experience and know how are all important, but when there are those several candidates you’re facing, go with the one who felt most at ease and who you believe could meet the demands of a fast moving law firm such as yours. Worse case scenario? Even if it’s not a good fit for either one of you and she opts to move alone, you still know where at least a few good candidates can be located – provided, of course, they’re still available.

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