Legal Secretaries are there to assist Lawyers with their workload. They are an integral part of a team of legal professionals and work hard to ensure that a firm can run smoothly and efficiently. It would be true to say that one of the most important relationships Lawyers develop in their professional working lives is with their Secretary, so it is beneficial to be of as much assistance as possible to optimise their performance.
Legal Secretaries must have up to date knowledge of law and legal procedures. They must understand not only how to correctly perform certain tasks but also understand why they are doing them. For this reason when entering the profession it is a good idea to have studied a course such as ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma, or if you are an experienced Legal Secretary, it is important to continue to progress and undertake further professional development so that you are always advancing your knowledge and skills.
As a Legal Secretary you are there to assist Lawyers with the handling of clients, to produce accurate legal documents, to type up dictation and to manage the office diary, as well as many other important duties. It is vital that you be competent and efficient, with a positive “can do” attitude, to enable Lawyers to perform their role as efficiently as possible. Lawyers are very busy people and your work ethic will have a direct impact on them. One of the most beneficial things you can do is for them is take time-consuming tasks off their hands, from basic jobs like filing or photocopying to more complex tasks such as editing legal documents.
It is common for Lawyers to have a billable hours target, and you will be greatly appreciated if you help them achieve that. They will have various clients to see; will be required to attend court and also take part in meetings. Whether you are taking dictation or ensuring that appointments are recorded in the diary, your work is of great value to them.
When working as a Legal Secretary, you will of often be considered the “face” of the firm, the first point of contact for the majority of people who come into the office. You will need to deal with clients in person or on the telephone, especially if your boss is busy. You must be well informed and confident in order to deal with whatever arises as the Lawyers in your firm will rely on you to ensure that clients are looked after. If a situation occurs where you are unsure of the correct course of action, simply ask your boss for clarification or further information. He or she will appreciate you making the effort to provide accurate information and the clients will respect your diligence.
To assist Lawyers effectively you need to:
- Have a positive attitude
- Be cooperative
- Communicate well
- Be approachable
- Be honest
- Show a genuine interest
- Be willing to take on additional responsibilities
- Understand their professional responsibilities
ILSPA’s online resources help our Members with their careers. You can learn how to improve your time management, be more assertive and deal with challenging clients. Take a look at the professional development articles which appear in our journal and also our online Student and Member area to see what’s available. Advancing your skills will not only help the Lawyers you work for but will also enable you to excel in your career.
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.