Pursuing a career in law is on your to-do list, but you’re not entirely sure which roles interest you. Dilemma. You’ve read up on how to become a solicitor or barrister, but other than the salary these roles command, the jobs don’t really tickle your fancy.
Becoming a paralegal may be a bit more up your street, but have you considered becoming a legal secretary?
What does a legal secretary do?
Similar to paralegals, legal secretaries provide administrative support and help with the day-to-day tasks that come about in a law firm. “Tell me more!” Right on!
Legal secretaries can help produce legal documents such as wills, contracts and court papers, deal with enquiries from clients, prepare court forms and statements, deliver and collect documents and attend court or police cells with solicitors. Legal secretaries are key cogs in the law firm machine.
Depending on the size of law firm that legal secretaries work in, you could end up becoming knowledgeable about various areas of law or you could specialise in just one.
What skills & qualifications do I need to become a legal secretary?
Legal secretary sound like your kind of gig? Awesome. As with any job (and not just those in the legal industry) you’ll need to have a good work ethic, be able to meet deadlines and handle the intensity of a busy office environment. Word processing skills and experience of office work will be a necessity for any legal secretary.
Legal secretaries don’t need to go to university either. For example, magic circle firm Slaughter and May, wish their trainee legal secretaries to have five GCSEs at Grade C or above, including an A in English Language. The firm also want their candidates to be studying a Legal Secretarial Diploma.
Speaking of which, these certificates and diplomas for legal secretaries are a great way to boost your skills and employability. A Level 2 Certificate is ideal for those with no previous experience and provides students with the essential legal secretarial skills. A Level 2 Award is also available, which is a technical qualification that covers spreadsheet, database skills or presentation skills. Level 3 qualifications are a step up, suitable if you already have secretarial experience and wish to move into the legal field.
To kick off your journey to becoming a top legal secretary, check out law firms that offer trainee programmes for legal secretaries and any vacancies at smaller firms for assistant legal secretaries. If you’re good at your job, you’ll soon climb up the ladder rungs.
If you are looking for further help and guidance on becoming a Legal Secretary you can contact The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA). As the professional body for Legal Secretaries and PAs within the UK, ILSPA is there to provide training, career guidance and professional support for every step of your legal secretarial career. For more information visit institutelegalsecretaries.com.
How can my career progress?
Legal secretaries can go on to become personal assistants for top lawyers, and these kinds of roles command an impressive salary. Personal assistants tend to work for just one person, and are the first point of contact for clients. They can also make decisions on behalf of their bosses and take on more responsibility with tasks that involve marketing or accounts and budgets. With more responsibility, legal personal assistants need to be reliable, organised and committed.
Without legal secretaries, the legal industry would struggle to operate. They’re a key component in any law firm and can become a valuable asset.