If you’re interested in law but don’t have legal qualifications, you should consider becoming a legal secretary. Legal secretaries are crucial to the smooth running of any law firm. From what a legal secretary does to the qualifications you need, here’s what you should know.
What is a legal secretary?
Legal secretaries assist lawyers and other support staff with the day-to-day tasks in a law firm. They provide administrative support and are trained to produce legal documents which include summonses, motions and other court styles. They’re familiar with legal jargon and support lawyers by handling dictation and preparing bundles for court.
Legal secretaries also undertake typical administrative work such as answering phone calls, typing letters and photocopying.
Am I well suited to this role?
As with any support role, you must be able to work well under pressure and multitask. Law offices are busy—and sometimes stressful—working environments, so it’s important you’re dependable and efficient. You should also have transferable skills, such as:
- Communicating well
- Working well within teams
- Having a friendly but professional manner
- Paying close attention to detail and having great proofreading skills
- Being IT literate—most legal secretarial work involves using technology
The most important quality is that you’re versatile. No two days will be the same, and so you need to be ready for the challenge.
Do I need previous experience in administration?
In short, yes—previous experience in an administrative, personal assistant or secretarial role is strongly preferred. It’s not impossible to get a job as a legal secretary without this experience, but what you lack in direct experience you’ll need to make up for in transferable skills. Be aware there’s a lot of competition out there for jobs like this, so a strong background betters your chances.
How flexible are the hours?
You’ll generally work typical office hours, Monday-Friday, however this varies depending on the firm. For example, large corporate firms often work long hours, and offices with less staff may need extra support. However, there is scope for part-time work, or temporary contracts covering maternity leave and other short-term gaps.
Where can I work?
Legal secretaries work across the country in law offices of various sizes. Bigger cities tend to have more opportunities, particularly if you want to support a specific area of law, such as commercial or private client.
Busier cities and larger firms generally attract higher benefits and improved wages, but smaller offices can give you a chance to take on more responsibility. Starting salaries vary considerably between firms.
I want to become a legal secretary in the UK. Where do I start?
First, you should obtain a CPD-accredited legal secretary qualification, such as a Legal Secretarial Diploma, from a reputable provider.