What is a legal secretary or PA?
Law firms are busy and diverse places to work, but it’s not just lawyers who make up the team. Lawyers require support to enable them to carry out their work smoothly and efficiently, while legal secretaries and PAs provide this support. If you’re looking to work within law but are unsure whether you would like to be a solicitor or barrister, then the alternative career of a legal secretary or PA may be better for you.
Your day-to-day work and responsibilities as a legal secretary will vary depending on the legal department you work in and the cases being handled. Your tasks could include producing legal documents and forms, carrying out legal research, responding to enquiries from new and existing clients, attending court, collecting fees upon completion of legal work and performing everyday secretarial duties.
By working as a legal secretary, you can get to know a wide range of different legal procedures and build up experience in a large number of different legal areas. This may give you the opportunity to work your way up the ladder into other roles such as legal PA, paralegal or legal executive (with the right training).
There’s scope to be paid very well as a legal secretary, with wages at a higher level than those of a standard secretary. The starting salary for a newly-qualified legal secretary can be anywhere from £14,000 to £20,000, depending on the type of firm you’re working for and the area of the country you live in. As you develop experience, you could be paid up to £30,000, and legal secretaries who are seen as being highly competent and skilled can earn around £40,000 a year.
Legal PAs act as a personal assistant to one or more bosses and deliver a very high-quality service to their clients. They are often the first point of contact and sometimes make decisions on behalf of their bosses.
They can do work similar to that of a legal secretary but often take on more responsibility with senior administrative tasks such as marketing or dealing with accounts and budgets. They are responsible for managing personal timetables and diaries, together with organising events and engagements and making travel arrangements.
Next article: A day in the life of a legal secretary
If you’re interested in becoming a Legal Secretary or PA, please contact The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs.
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