How to Become a Legal Secretary
Are you interested in the law, organised and keen to provide administrative support to legal professionals? Read on to find out if being a legal secretary is the right career for you.
What does a legal secretary do?
Legal secretaries have a breadth of professional skills and are an important part of the legal environment. They are responsible for assisting solicitors, barristers and legal executives with administrative tasks such as legal research, typing from dictation and producing legal letters and other legal documents like wills.
Legal Secretaries may work in law firms, Barristers’ Chambers, Law Courts, Local Authorities or the Police.
What skills are needed to become a legal secretary?
Legal secretaries need excellent literacy, administrative and IT skills, including using word processing and Microsoft Excel. You will need good interpersonal and communication skills. The ability to be organised, work under pressure, manage your own time and pay attention to detail are also key. Legal secretaries work within law firms supporting others, so good teamwork is essential.
What qualifications are needed to become a legal secretary?
You would normally be expected to have a GCSE in English, at grade C or above, but no other formal qualifications or training courses are required to become a legal secretary.
However, there are legal secretary courses you might choose to take to improve your legal knowledge and employability and make your CV stand out.
For example, you could consider taking a course in audio transcription, legal word processing, or a qualification like a Legal Secretaries Diploma course. This will help you learn more about legal terminology, different areas of law, legal document production and the day-to-day tasks a legal secretary may be expected to carry out. Diploma courses are often via distance learning and are flexible.
The Institute of Legal Secretaries recommends investing in a legal secretary course – they are valued in the legal industry and recognised by law firms.
What work experience is needed to become a legal secretary?
You’ll need experience in carrying out administrative tasks, word processing and have some secretarial skills. An excellent way to start in the profession is to gain experience working as an administrator or secretary within a legal organisation and then progress as your legal knowledge develops.
Once you have some experience and secretarial skills, you might apply for a trainee position. Be prepared to show off your typing skills – it’s not unusual for legal secretary jobs to specify word processing skills of around 45 to 50 words a minute.
What are the career prospects for a legal secretary?
As a legal secretary, you may specialise in different areas of law, such as probate, family law, conveyancing, criminal law or litigation.
As you gain experience, knowledge and skills, there will be opportunities for career progression. For example, you may be promoted and given more responsibility in a legal secretary role or, with additional training, progress within the legal profession to become a paralegal or legal executive.
Another career path is becoming a legal PA. Legal PAs do similar work to legal secretaries but usually act as personal assistants to executive-level personnel and have more responsibility. They may be responsible for accounts, budgets or marketing, for example.
How much do legal secretaries earn?
In the UK, the National Careers Service reports that an average starting salary for a legal secretary is £20,000 per year, potentially increasing to £45,000 per year for experienced personnel or personal assistant roles.
Legal secretaries may work full time (9-5) or part-time.