A legal secretary performs a wide variety of tasks, which are usually administrative in nature. Depending upon where the person is working, the responsibilities of a legal secretary may include filing as well as organising legal paperwork, accompany the solicitor to court, typing legal documents, such as appeals and summons, and handling the daily calendar of solicitors and legal executives.
While the specific duties may vary, some of the responsibilities of a legal secretary will include the following:
• Answering telephone calls
• Managing and organising the filing system in the office
• Processing different legal documents
• Fixing meetings for legal executives and solicitors
• Performing other administrative tasks, such as photocopying, faxing, and even placing orders for stationery items
The most important skill undoubtedly is being extremely organised. In addition, a legal secretary needs accurate and good typewriting skills, ability to decipher legal terms and jargon, and being approachable and friendly, as such a professional is the first point of contact for visitors and clients.
Other skills needed include computer literacy, multi-tasking, good at proofreading and spotting typographical errors, outstanding communication skills, and the ability to work under pressure.
How to Become a Legal Secretary
There are certificate and diploma courses available that cover all the key areas and skills a legal secretary needs. Each course has its own curriculum, and if you are an entry level candidate, it is best to opt for a diploma course, as it will cover areas, such as wills and probate, family law, civil litigation, company law, and conveyancing wills.
While this position requires a good level of education, a degree is not a necessity. The person can opt for courses and also get on-the-job training, but he or she will need good numeracy and language skills, along with grades A to C in Maths and English at GCSE.
Working as an apprentice or temping is a good way to enhance the basic required knowledge.
Entry level legal secretaries earn anywhere from £12,000 to £15,000 on an average, while a certified legal secretary can look to earn up to £22,000. There are higher paid jobs, but these require fair amount of experience as well as comprehensive understanding and knowledge about specific legal terminologies.
Career progression is fast if a person has the right qualifications and experience. Usually, a legal secretary position is an entry level one, but with time, other opportunities arise within the legal profession.
As the position requires excellent administrative skills, it is possible to move to other areas of administration.
The tasks are repetitive and can get tedious and monotonous, which could lead to frustration. Furthermore, a legal secretary does not earn recognition for the tasks performed. As the person processes important legal documents, a slight error can prove costly.
Being a Successful Legal Secretary
The key to being a successful and good legal secretary is learning all the legal terms, being extremely well-organised and maintaining good communication with colleagues and superiors.
This post was written in collaboration with Office Angels, leaders in office-based recruitment solutions.