How to Become a Legal Secretary

| Career Insights

Do you exhibit excellent organisational skills and are enthusiastic about a career in law? If so, a job as a legal secretary may be suited to you! Responsible for providing administrative assistance to lawyers and legal executives, legal secretaries can immerse themselves in various tasks ranging from creating and processing different legal documents to scheduling meetings and operating the office filing system. This article will answer every question you may have when wanting to know how to become a legal secretary.

How to Become a Legal Secretary

Do you exhibit excellent organisational skills and are enthusiastic about a career in law? If so, a job as a legal secretary may be suited to you! Responsible for providing administrative assistance to lawyers and legal executives, legal secretaries can immerse themselves in various tasks ranging from creating and processing different legal documents to scheduling meetings and operating the office filing system. This article will answer every question you may have when wanting to know how to become a legal secretary.

What are the different routes to becoming a legal secretary?

Take a Legal Secretary Course

To demonstrate your commitment to pursuing a career as a legal secretary and to ensure that you submit a competitive application, you may wish to obtain a recognised legal secretary qualification. Offered by professional bodies like The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), you will have the opportunity to learn about disparate areas of law, legal document production, and the tasks associated with being a legal secretary.

Minimum Requirements:

  • A minimum grade of C (or above) in five GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and Mathematics, for an advanced apprenticeship

Depending on the awarding firm or institution, it is important to note that the minimum requirements can vary. It is therefore advised that you carefully research relevant employers’ apprenticeship offerings to determine whether you are qualified for the role. In the absence of sufficient information, it is always beneficial to contact your target employer.

Become an Apprentice or Trainee

Larger law firms that can leverage more resources towards your training may instead offer trainee programs or law apprenticeships, allowing you to learn on the job as you work amongst eminent industry professionals to gain the requisite skills demanded of an accomplished legal secretary. While previous qualifications are advantageous when applying, some firms will also view secretarial skills favourably. Qualification typically involves engaging in practical work whilst studying for the position, allowing you to become a fully trained legal professional upon completion of the contract. If successful, you may even be able to attain a permanent role within the firm as a legal secretary.

Minimum Requirements:

  • GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and Mathematics, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • A minimum grade of C (or above) in five GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and Mathematics, for an advanced apprenticeship

Similar to above, the minimum requirements needed to be satisfied for an apprenticeship or trainee application are at the discretion of the employer. 

Working towards a Legal Secretary position as an Administrator or Secretary

You may seek to start as an administrator or secretary at a law firm, later progressing into a legal secretary role. Particularly where you can evidence valuable administrative or secretarial experience, legal recruiters will view this as great preparation for the skills needed, and procedures to be followed, on the job. While you may initially be assigned purely administrative work, your exposure to the law will gradually increase as you display greater proficiency and can assume more responsibilities. At your employer’s discretion, you may also be awarded a training course to further develop your knowledge and skills so that you can really excel in the role. 

Apply for a Junior Position

If you cannot demonstrate completion of any relevant qualification, you may wish to secure a more junior role, such as an administrative assistant, to progress within the firm or apply to a new firm once you have gained greater experience and expertise.

What skills do I need to excel as a legal secretary?

  • Organisational and administrative skills 
  • Computer literacy (experience using Microsoft and database management programmes)
  • Written and verbal communication skills (this includes word processing skills of around 45 to 50 words a minute)
  • Legal knowledge (encompassing court procedures and government regulations)
  • Proofreading proficiency
  • Ability to multi-task and work under pressure 
  • Ability to work well in teams
  • Attention to detail
  • Customer service skills

Where can I look to find legal secretary vacancies?

Now the question of how to become a legal secretary has been answered head on over to the ‘Opportunities’ tab on our website to review current legal secretary openings in the UK or read our career advice article on how best to gain legal secretary work experience. Alternatively, if you are a law firm or in-house legal department wishing to promote a vacancy in your office, simply ‘Create an Alert’ on our platform.

By India Hartstonge

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