Becoming a Legal Records Manager: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a legal records manager? Get real job duties, training/education requirements and salary details to see if becoming a legal records manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Legal Records Management

A career in legal records management usually requires at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as records management or administrative services, and job experience as a manager. Consider these pros and cons to decide if legal records management is a career for you.

Pros of a Career in Legal Records Management
Authority to oversee and control document distribution*
Collect and organize information for your entire company*
Ability to recommend changes to processes on document retrieval and storage*
Management potential for those with applicable experience in the field*
Average median salary of $83,790*
Full-time work readily available as of 2012*

Cons of a Career in Legal Records Management
Many guidelines and regulations to adhere to*
Have to meet requests in a very quick manner and potentially under pressure*
Personnel supervision may get in the way of timely document retrieval or maintenance*
Company and client information to process may be detailed and complicated*
Much paperwork to maintain and keep track of*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

If you are looking for a career in management and document control, a career as a legal records manager may be for you. The job requires strong attention to detail and the ability to prioritize tasks as assigned, managing legal records and potentially a small staff. A background as a legal secretary or a manager of an operational department in a corporation may help prepare you for this role. For example, you may begin your career in records management as a legal secretary and decide that you wish to move to a management-level position.

Salary

The starting salary for a legal secretary, according to Onetonline.org, was around $42,770 as of 2014, and with additional training or education, you may be able to increase that as you move into a role of managing legal records exclusively. If you move into a role as an administrative services manager, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary was around $83,790 as of May 2014. Be certain to read job descriptions and requirements for any jobs in legal records management, as training and educational requirements for specific jobs may vary greatly.

What Do Employers Look For?

Legal records managers must catalog and organize legal records for a business or firm. They may analyze the organization's information needs and create an information plan to meet these needs create databases for the retrieval and control of information. In addition, they ensure that all record keeping adheres to client guidelines and relevant legislation. Due to the wide range of duties that this career entails, training in an applicable field, such as library science or legal studies, may be required. Employers look for an employee who is capable of managing large amounts of data as well as other staff members. The job may require basic office functions, such as database management, and various other administrative tasks, such as letter writing or schedule keeping, assigned as well. Records management roles may also require employee file maintenance in addition to legal documents and client information.

Certification Information

Certification is available for those who wish to become Certified Records Managers (CRM) through the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM). The ICRM requires that applicants meet educational requirements - preferably a bachelor's degree-level education, although only a high school diploma is required - and applicable work experience. An application must be submitted and approved before you are eligible to complete the certification test.

What Employers Require

Some employers require that you complete a bachelor's-level education or have over ten years of on-the-job experience. Some employers may require both a degree and work experience. Due to the potential for working with highly sensitive material, these may be firm requirements. A degree in library sciences or legal studies can also help prepare you for a career in legal records management. Employers may also require a high level of confidentiality regarding the records that you process. Job postings from April 2012 reflect the following requirements from employers seeking to fill positions in records management:

  • A private company in Florida sought a records manager who held a high level of secrecy as well as a bachelor's degree in a relevant field or at least ten years of experience. This company also preferred candidates that are a CRM.
  • In Colorado, a firm looked for a legal manager to assist attorneys and other employees with contract drafting, reviewing and processing. According to the posting, this job candidate should also be prepared to draft and complete all legal documentation for the company.
  • A pharmaceutical company in Pennsylvania looked for a manager for records and information management who was able to make sure that all documentation met the standards for various regulatory agencies. This candidate would also possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum of five years of experience.

How to Maximize Your Skills

If you are looking to stand out in the records management industry, experience can be your first step to success. You must also be well-versed and organized as far as communication and document management are concerned. You will also need strong decision-making ability, problem solving and communication skills. Experience with library catalogs, various databases and software applications is also a plus. Excellent computer skills and the abilities to manage others, work under pressure and meet deadlines are also critical job skills that potential employers seek.

Other Careers to Consider

If you do not feel as if managing large amounts of information is for you, you may find that you are better suited to a career as a paralegal or legal assistant. These professionals assist lawyers by conducting legal research, preparing drafts of documents and completing other administrative tasks. Paralegals and legal secretaries generally need either an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor's degree in another field plus a paralegal studies certificate. About 270 of such programs are accredited by the American Bar Association. The median annual salary for paralegals and legal assistants was around $47,000 as of May 2011. The BLS reported that the job growth was also expected to grow about as fast as the national average from 2010-2020, at a rate of about 18%.

If you're interested in detailed work with sensitive records, but not necessarily interested in the legal field, another career that you may want to consider is that of a medical records and health information technician. This career requires that you successfully manage health information records in both online and hard copy forms. The BLS reported the median salary at around $33,000 as of May 2011, which is significantly lower than that of both a legal records manager and paralegal/legal assistant. Medical records and health information technicians were predicted to see 21% job growth from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

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    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Legal Studies
    Bachelor's
      • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
      • BS - Legal Support and Services
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      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
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    Certificate
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
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    2. Keiser University

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    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Legal Studies
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Paralegal
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    3. Grand Canyon University

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    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
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    4. Saint Joseph's University

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      • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
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    5. Northcentral University

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      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
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    6. Lewis University

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    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice
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    7. Argosy University

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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Business Administration
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    8. South University

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    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice (BS)
    Associate's
      • Paralegal Studies (AS)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
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    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor - Management - Criminal Justice
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      • M.S. - Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal

Which subject are you interested in?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Legal Studies
  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Paralegal

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Lewis University

  • MS in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Argosy University

  • Bachelor - Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

South University

  • Criminal Justice (BS)
  • Paralegal Studies (AS)

What is your highest level of education completed?