Legal Secretaries are in high demand and there are an increasing number of people deciding to take the plunge and embark on a new career in the profession. A career change, although a very exciting process, can be filled with a myriad of different emotions. Alongside undeniable enthusiasm it is completely normal to feel some trepidation when writing out your first CV and concluding that you do not have the skills or experience to land the position for which you are applying. Suddenly you feel out of your comfort zone, your previous experience seems irrelevant and your goal of being hired as a Legal Secretary looks like it may be unobtainable. But all hope is not lost; what many don’t realise is that their former career history is likely to hold a wealth of transferable skills which can be applied directly to their new role, even if the two professions seem completely unrelated. Don’t discount your previous experience just because it is in a different sector; instead see it as a challenge to show off your skills.
It is vital when writing your CV that you are accurately able to identify and link previous experience to the position in hand by pinpointing which skills you possess that are relevant and transferable. If you’ve found yourself staring at your credentials and wondering how you can make them work for you then this is the article for you. The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs has broken down the skill-set required of a Legal Secretary to help you tailor your CV to the role.
Customer Service and Interpersonal Skills
Legal Secretaries are often the first person a client comes into contact with when approaching a firm. They therefore need to have exceptional communication and customer service skills. In order to excel at their job a Legal Secretary must have both the knowledge to be able to answer queries that are directed to them, as well as the ability to deal with queries in a professional and confident manner. People that come from a customer service or retail background excel at this aspect of the role having had a large amount of experience working with the public.
A variety of positions require an individual to be meticulously organised, most of which are not the classic office roles that you would expect. If you have ever been self-employed, worked with children, been a part of a large team or had to travel a lot with work, to name just a few, you would have needed to have a certain level of organisation to make your day run smoothly. An organised Legal Secretary is an efficient Legal Secretary, so make sure to highlight this skill within your CV.
Administration involves a great deal of multi-tasking and is required in an array of roles. If you have ever dealt with the management of a certain area within a workplace, answered telephone calls, scheduled meetings, sorted post or maintained office equipment then you will have acquired a collection of worthy abilities that will help you to build your new career. Administration does not always happen by one individual behind a desk. If you have previously needed to complete forms, stock sheets, reports or rotas as part of your role then you have been doing administrative tasks.
Part of the role of a Legal Secretary could include working with a difficult colleague or client or coming across a problem which needs your input to be resolved. Utilising problem solving skills allows you to use powers of logic, rationality and analysis in a calm way to find a solution to any problem that may occur within the workplace. If you’ve ever worked within a school, within healthcare or in a management role you will have used your problem solving skills regularly and can apply these to a Legal Secretary’s position.
Word Processing and I.T. Skills
Having top-notch I.T. skills is paramount in the life of the Legal Secretary seeing as the bulk of the role involves efficient document production. Teachers, receptionists, typists and even writers will all have experience of Word Processing.
Most jobs will require the individual to work within a team, from Human Resources to roles within the Arts to being a part of a Café structure. You would be hard pressed to find a job where you did not need to work alongside others in some capacity even if it is not a daily situation. Teamwork within a Legal Secretarial role involves working towards a common goal as part of a unit, discussing client’s needs and handling the overflow of fellow colleagues. Another important element is to boost the morale of the workplace, learning skills off one another, strengthening bonds and having performance and ideas reaffirmed by others.
Attention to Detail
Legal Secretaries have to produce legal documents to a faultless standard. This requires an exemplary level of attention to detail. Accountants, architects, proof-readers and pharmacists, amongst others, will have all developed the excellent observational skills required for the role.
And finally, please remember, the first step to take when writing out your CV is to dissect and scrutinise the role of a Legal Secretary, writing down the skills, experience and traits that are required of one. The next step is to then write down your own career history and to carefully analyse what you learnt within each role. The two lists should then be used to cross-reference between one another to form a basis for your CV.
By referring to this article we hope that you are able to see the value that your previous experience holds for you. Utilise it to its best advantage and show your prospective employer what a desirable candidate you are. Good luck in your new career!
The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs is delighted to work with Career Legal to inform people about changes in the industry and ensure that law firms hire the best staff. 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