What is a Legal Secretary
When people think of legal jobs, the first jobs that come to mind are, barristers, solicitors, and paralegals. But there are so many more roles out there! One role being a Legal Secretary, however when facing this opportunity, many people ask, “what is a legal secretary?”, this article will unpack what a legal secretary is and give you any important information you will need!
A legal secretary is a crucial part of any legal institution, and they work to support lawyers and paralegals in a legal institution.
Legal Secretary Job Description:
The job of a legal secretary involves supporting your employer through mainly administrative and secretarial roles, with tasks such as:
- Produce legal documents, and prepare these documents for court and meetings and then may even be required to attend court
- A large part of a legal secretary’s role is calendar management, which includes managing diaries, making appointments, and answering queries
- General administrative work such as filing documents
The workload of a legal secretary role will vary from employer to employer however the general duties will be common amongst any legal secretary role. There are many places a legal secretary may work, the most common is usually a law firm however they may also work in:
- Barristers’ chambers
- Legal departments of companies
- Government agencies
Most of these environments are highly intense workplaces, there will be tight deadlines especially due to the legal secretary’s role of preparing documents for court. A legal secretary role is an exciting role in a fast-paced environment! The work hours of a legal secretary are the standard office 9 am to 5 pm however some overtime may be required in times of high intensity such as just before court. There are also part-time roles available where the times will vary based on the employer, however, the majority of legal secretary roles are full time.
The salary of a legal secretary is dependent on location, for example, a legal secretary in London will earn more than a legal secretary in Birmingham. However, the average salary for legal secretaries is around £22000 to £230000, but when you start out, you may expect to be paid around £19000 to £22000. You can check the average salary in your area of work, or location using the Legists Salary Checker! This salary will improve with experience, with some experience legal secretaries earning up to £35000.
This should have answered some of the basics of “what is a legal secretary” – now before applying for a legal secretary role, it’s important to know what skills and qualifications are needed to become a legal secretary
Skills, Qualifications and Training:
The main skill a legal secretary should have is basic legal knowledge and commercial awareness. Any legal job will involve complex legal terms and procedures and a basic understanding of this is key to success in the job role, especially due to some of the job roles involving tasks such as producing legal documents.
There are other more basic skills that are also demanded:
- Customer service skills, legal secretaries are often at the forefront of legal establishments and good customer services is pivotal
- Good teamworking skills, often legal secretaries will be working alongside solicitors, paralegals and clients and the ability to work well alongside these is key to succeed
- Administrative and organisation skills are crucial. A large part of the role is organising meetings and courts dates, for the legal establishment to run smoothly, it’s extremely important that these are organised properly.
- Reliability and confidentiality. As a legal secretary, you will be dealing with sensitive information and its important this information remains confidential
- General secretarial skills:
- Competent with IT systems
- A positive attitude
- Interpersonal skills
- Good communication skills – both written and verbal
There are no formal qualifications to becoming a legal secretary however, most employers will expect a good range of GCSEs at a high grade, especially with Maths and English.
There are legal secretary courses that can be done, from institutions such as the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs in order to help gain some of these secretarial skills. There are also non-legal courses that can be taken such as the OCR Higher Diploma in Administrative and Secretarial Procedures and then can be supplemented with more specialised courses such as the City and Guilds/ILEX Level 3 Certificate for Legal Secretaries.
Some employers will set their own requirements on the qualification of legal secretaries, i.e., some may require qualification course such as the ones set out above, some require degrees while others may not require much experience. It all depends on the type of post and the institution that is hiring. Legal secretary jobs can often be competitive, and a degree or a training course could be the differentiating factor in you becoming successful in the job.
Often once you receive a role as a legal secretary, you will specialise in a specific sector similar to how other legal professionals specialise. Each employer will have their own unique way to train, some may train in-house while others may outsource the work to a training firm.
This article should have answered the question “what is a legal secretary” and shown the skills needed to thrive in this role. It’s a unique opportunity within the legal sector and an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to obtain some legal experience. Many law students who don’t have training contracts will enter into the legal secretary world as it’s a great way to immerse yourself in a law firm and grow as a legal individual. Becoming a legal secretary is an amazing role!
Where can I find out about new Legal Secretary roles?
Now you know the answer to the question “what is a legal secretary?” it’s time to go and secure a legal secretary role!
By Elsad Beqiri