Concerned, alert, loyal, and competent in her administrative duties, especially typing, Della Street was the glue which held the law office of Perry Mason together. Today that role is vanishing from the legal sector. The next television show which is set in a law firm might not even have legal secretaries in it.
As THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports, the combination of the need to reduce costs and technology is putting legal secretaries out on the street. Those who survive a layoff often wind up in group work clustering which provides administrative assistance more efficiently.
Legal secretaries who are cut loose usually have difficulty finding comparable jobs. Their situation is similar to that of laid-off lawyers who have no place to go in a downsized industry. Also, since both have highly specialized skills they won't find opportunities in other industries unless they can reinvent themselves.
This problem isn't new. In the early 1970s, thousands of doctoral candidates in the humanities found out that the college teaching jobs the U.S. government predicted would develop didn't. We had ossified into academics, whose skills and persona no one outside of academia wanted. For most of us it required several years to shake off that conditioning, develop marketable skills, and be willing to start all over again.