CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 18, 2014
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How to Become a Legal Secretary

Do you have a keen interest in law and would like to earn a living as you cultivate and nurture your administrative skills in the legal zone? Then you should consider the career of a legal secretary. This position will give you the chance to help legal executives and lawyers with the daily tasks involved in running a law or legal services firm.

What Do Legal Secretaries Do?

As a legal secretary, you will perform the following tasks:

  • Welcome clients and guests by greeting them on phone or in person
  • Produce information by formatting, transcribing, editing, inputting, copying and retrieving graphics and data
  • Maintain the attorney calendar by scheduling and planning dispositions, teleconferences and conferences
  • Maintain client confidence by ensuring proper storage of their information
  • Ensure all equipment works properly by reporting any problems and calling for maintenances
  • Arrange gathered evidence and other legitimate documents
  • Obtain affidavits and other important statements such as mortgages and contracts
  •  Conduct research on legal articles and relevant laws and regulations
  •  Assist lawyers by taking notes, handling exhibits and reviewing trial transcripts during trials
  •  Call lawyers, witnesses, outside vendors and clients to schedule meetings, interviews and depositions

Salary

The starting annual salary for legal secretaries is about £19,000. However, with more training and experience, they are able to demand a higher pay.

Level of Practice

 

Annual Salary

Starting secretaries

 

£14,000 - £20,000

Experienced secretaries

 

£20,000 - £30,000

Senior secretaries

 

Above £36,000

Source: NCS

Skills

The career of a legal secretary requires you to have the following vital qualities:

  • Outstanding oral and written communication skills
  • A resilient grasp of the legal and law processes
  • Computer literacy
  • Ability to work diligently to meet tight deadlines
  • Ability to work alone and as part of a group
  • High accuracy levels and a diligent attention to detail
  • High discretion and confidentiality levels
  • Excellent research skills
  • Excellent organizational skills

Qualifications

Candidates with a GCSE (A-C) grade in English and a certain amount of office work experience coupled by excellent typing skills might be at a competitive advantage when seeking for the position of a legal secretary. Aspiring legal secretaries can acquire the relevant experience by practicing in temporary office work while they take part-time or full classes in secretarial and computer skills which are offered at local colleges and training companies. Though not essential, you can pursue an acknowledged secretarial course before looking for employment. As a bottom line, a good understanding of law and overall administrative skills is crucial.

Alternatively, you can enter this profession through an apprenticeship program. These programs vary with the available job market as well as the types of skills required by employers. Professional training for entry level legal secretaries includes on-the-job training in a busy legal office, and class training in an acknowledged legal secretarial curriculum such as:

These courses can be taken either full time or part time depending on the student’s preferences. Several institutions such as ILSPA offer advanced level diplomas and a variety of single-subject foundation level certificates in specialties such as corporate law to students who want to specialize in a specific specialty of law. There are several Master’s programs in legal studies for professionals who want to further their career. With this training, you can serve in a higher position such as a paralegal whereby you’ll administer other secretaries and clerical staff.

Career Prospects

According to the National Careers Service, there will be about 570,000 jobs for legal secretaries by 2020 in the UK. Typical employers for these professionals include the police, law courts, estate agents and local authorities. There is an anticipated acute rise in opportunities in the private sector too since private businesses have also started offering legal services.

If you are an excellent communicator and would like to work in an office setting and possess the ability to meet tight deadlines, this career is meant for you.

Image Source: iStock

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