Legal secretaries must understand both the law and legal procedures. Their role is to assist lawyers with the processing of important information, production of legal documents, typing up dictation, dealing with clients, as well as many other important duties. Legal secretaries can take time-consuming tasks off lawyers’ hands, from basic jobs such as filing or photocopying to more complex tasks such as arranging meetings or performing legal research.
Lawyers are busy people and the work ethic of their secretaries has a direct impact on them. Secretaries must be fully aware of their professional responsibilities in order to be able to assist at the level required. Legal secretaries also need to be competent and efficient, with a “can do” attitude, to enable lawyers to perform their role as smoothly as possible. Being willing to take on additional responsibilities when needed goes a long way in helping an overloaded lawyer.
As legal secretaries are often the “front window” of the firm, they should be well-informed and confident in order to deal with whatever arises. Lawyers rely on their secretaries to ensure that clients are well looked after. They have a great responsibility to relay and record accurate information, so being able to communicate well, as well as have a good knowledge of each individual client’s needs, is very important.
Lawyers often have a billable-hours target and the job of a legal secretary is to help them achieve that. In their working week, lawyers may see various clients, attend court or take part in meetings. A good legal secretary can help with areas such as these by meeting clients themselves, attending court on behalf of their bosses or taking dictation in meetings. Their work is of great value as it frees up lawyers’ time to focus on more specialist matters.
Legal secretaries can develop their professional skills through ILSPA’s Legal Secretary Journal, DEDICATED. It includes a wealth of articles to help people with their legal-secretary careers. In the professional-development section, there are articles on time management, assertiveness and client care—all essential parts of the legal-secretary role. ILSPA’s journal is a fantastic online resource for aspiring and experienced legal secretaries. pa
If you’re interested in becoming a Legal Secretary or PA, please contact The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs.