If you’re interested in becoming a Litigation Legal Secretary, read on and find out exactly what the job involves. The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs offer a Legal Secretaries Diploma, which covers Civil Litigation and much more.
Understanding the Court System and the Litigation Process
A detailed knowledge of the court system and hierarchy in England and Wales is vital when working as a Legal Secretary in this area of law. By understanding the jurisdiction of the courts you’ll know which court each of your cases will be heard in and the process you will need to follow. It is most likely you will be dealing with litigation in civil law proceedings so you will predominately deal with the county courts.
If a case involves litigation of a more serious nature, or for a much higher value, the case may be escalated up to the High court level. The Legal Secretaries Diploma covers these aspects for you; along with teaching you a lot of the legal terminology and knowledge you’ll need.
Producing Legal Documentation and Completing Forms
A large part of your role will be producing high quality documents and completing forms relevant to the cases you work on. It is common practice to complete forms such as a Claim Form, a Request for Judgment and Reply to Admission Form. You will also be expected to type out documents such as the Particulars of Claim and Instructions to Counsel.
Working on Case Recording Systems or Litigation Management Software
You will be made familiar with any case recording systems or litigation management software that your new firm uses. Case management systems are designed to monitor the life cycle of a case and manage the workflow of everybody dealing with it. You will be able to upload all the necessary documents relating to a case so that everybody involved will have access to the most up-to-date documents.
Liaising with Clients, Solicitors and Witnesses
You will be required to liaise with the clients of the case, the other party’s Solicitors and any witnesses that your firm have asked to speak in court during the case. This will involve ensuring they receive a warm and professional welcome when they visit your firm’s office. It’s important to be polite and clear in both your verbal and written communication. It is your responsibility to ensure that everything goes smoothly and all the correct information is passed on to the relevant people.
Attending Hearings and Taking Notes
Attending live court proceedings is one of the most exciting aspects of working as a Litigation Legal Secretary. When attending court as a Legal Secretary, it is vitally important for you to make detailed notes. Make sure you, include the timings of hearings (for your firm to be able to invoice accordingly) and record how the case is progressing, paying special attention to the overall outcome (judgment).
You will need to be on hand for the Counsel who has been instructed to present the case on behalf of your client. Remember, your firm’s client will need to be well looked after and kept informed about how the case is progressing. It is necessary to build rapport with the client, put them at ease. Make them aware of their Counsel and exactly what they will be doing for them in court on the day of their appearance.
Researching the Relevant Law
Research is part of the job of a lawyer themselves, however, you may still be asked to look up and check details of the relevant law associated with the case. Your firm will provide you with access to the main legal databases in England and Wales (e.g. Lexis Nexis, Westlaw etc.). You may also have access to the All England Law Reports which are reference books containing reported cases and are widely used by lawyers.
Other General Skills
Legal Secretaries are an essential part of the legal profession. They help lawyers with their work and are an integral part of a team of legal professionals. ILSPA offers training and professional development through our courses and online resources.
The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA) is a professional body who are dedicated to your career every step of the way. Whether you would like to become a Legal Secretary or you would like to advance your Legal Secretary career, they are there to support you through your journey. For more information visit www.institutelegalsecretaries.com.