Are you intrigued by the idea of becoming a legal secretary but find yourself unsure about the necessary steps to enter this profession? Don’t worry, because in this comprehensive blog article, we will not only demystify the role of a legal secretary but also provide you with invaluable guidance on how to embark on this rewarding career path. Whether you’re fascinated by the legal field, a recent graduate eager to pursue a legal career, or simply curious about the inner workings of law firms, this article is your go-to resource for understanding the ins and outs of being a legal secretary. We will delve into the daily responsibilities of legal secretaries, highlighting the crucial support they provide to lawyers and the overall legal team. Furthermore, we will discuss the essential skills and qualifications required to excel in this role, as well as the educational and professional pathways you can follow to kickstart your journey as a legal secretary. By the end of this article, you’ll have a crystal-clear understanding of what do legal secretaries do, the skills you need to develop, and the practical steps you can take to make your dream of becoming a legal secretary a reality. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secrets of this fascinating profession together!
What is a Legal Secretary?
A legal secretary is an assistant who provides administrative support to barristers, solicitors, legal executives, and other types of legal professionals in a law firm, legal department, or courtroom setting. Barrister’s clerk or court secretary are alternative titles used to describe the same role.
What Does a Legal Secretary Do?
Legal secretaries perform a range of administrative, secretarial, and clerical tasks to support lawyers or legal teams and make sure the workplace runs smoothly and efficiently. The duties vary depending on the employer, but they typically include the following:
- Preparing, typing, and filing legal documents, such as wills, contracts, and subpoenas
- Managing correspondence and responding to clients’ enquiries in person, via email, or by telephone
- Organising diaries, scheduling appointments, and arranging meetings
- Audio typing from digital dictation, transcribing interviews, and conducting legal research
- Gathering information required for cases, such as accident reports or medical records
- Scanning, photocopying, and faxing
Simply put, a legal secretary carries out essential functions that enable legal professionals to focus on their clients’ needs.
How to Become a Legal Secretary?
Although there are no industry standard minimum entry requirements, most legal secretary jobs require good GCSE grades, especially in English and Maths. However, some employers may ask for a university degree, certification, or prior experience.
You may choose between four routes to obtain the qualifications necessary to become a legal secretary:
- Take a legal secretary course
- Complete a law apprenticeship
- Start as a secretary or administrative assistant
- Secure a junior position at a law firm
Each one of these paths will help you acquire valuable knowledge, skills, and technical expertise to pursue and further your legal career.
What Skills Do I Need to Be a Legal Secretary?
You need to have the following skills to be a legal secretary:
- Adequate knowledge of the legal system, procedures, and terminology
- Ability to copy and audio type with high accuracy at high speed
- Outstanding organisational, communication, and time management skills
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook
- Excellent verbal and written English skills
Moreover, employers look for soft skills in potential candidates, which often include:
- Polite, friendly, and professional
- Discrete, trustworthy, and reliable
- Ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
- Good attention to detail
In short, a good legal secretary exhibits excellent secretarial skills, legal knowledge, and personality traits.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Legal Secretary?
It takes between a few weeks to over a year, the duration depends on how you go about becoming a legal secretary. Courses may be as short as 8 weeks, while apprenticeships can last as long as 18 months.
School leavers with good IT skills may be able to secure junior roles in less than a month. If you have previous secretarial experience, you may only need a few days to land a legal secretary job if you have luck on your side.
How Much Does a Legal Secretary Earn?
The salary of a legal secretary in the UK ranges between £32,000 – £46,000 per year depending on experience, firm prestige, and location.
In London, for example, an experienced legal secretary at a prestigious firm can expect to earn £30,000 to £35,000. Conversely, the average salary tends to be closer to £20,000 in smaller cities like Exeter.
What are The Career Prospects for a Legal Secretary?
Becoming a legal secretary can pave the way to career advancements within and outside the legal field. You can become a legal personal or executive assistant, which is a similar role but comes with more challenging, often higher-paying, responsibilities.
You can also pursue another career path as a paralegal or solicitor through experience or further education.
Lastly, you can transfer your skills to become an office manager, secretary, or personal assistant in other sectors.
Legal Secretary FAQ
Does a legal secretary need a degree?
No, you don’t need a degree to become a legal secretary. Nevertheless, earning a certificate helps you obtain the necessary knowledge and skills of the profession. It also increases your chances of landing a job.
Can you be a legal secretary with no experience?
Yes, you can be a legal secretary with little to no experience either by taking a course, completing an apprenticeship, or even securing a junior role with good grades and excellent administrative skills.
Is being a legal secretary stressful?
Yes, it can be highly stressful. You have more to worry about than the heavy workload as mistakes can lead to grave repercussions for the clients, lawyers, or clients.
Is a legal secretary a good career?
Yes, it’s a good-paying profession that requires minimum education and experience for entry. Law firms and lawyers value good legal secretaries, showing their appreciation with raises, bonuses, and perks.
Is a legal secretary the same as a paralegal?
No, although many confuse the two terms. A legal secretary fulfils administrative duties like arranging meetings, while a paralegal performs legal work, such as interviewing witnesses.
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