Employed by national, regional and City law firms, as well as in-house departments and Barrister’s chambers, Legal PAs provide administrative and secretarial support to an individual or small team. Most tasks are administrative or clerical in nature, while roles have varying degrees of involvement in hands-on legal work.
In many ways, the role of a Legal PA is similar to that of a Legal Secretary. They are, however, distinct roles. Where Legal Secretaries often support an entire team or department, Legal PAs provide one-to-one assistance to one or more bosses, managing their personal calendars and diaries. Where Legal Secretaries have limited exposure to legal work, Legal PAs take on more responsibility, and are sometimes involved with senior tasks such as business development, project management and liaising with clients.
Legal PAs are responsible for assisting one or more individuals in a law firm or in-house legal team with all aspects of their professional lives. This can include liaising with clients, drafting documents and project management, as well as booking meetings, travel, and accommodation.
The responsibilities of a Legal PA are broad and can vary greatly from role to role. However, as a guide, a Legal PA job description often involves:
• Directly supporting Partners, General Counsel and other senior legal professionals.
• Extensive calendar and diary management.
• Booking travel, meetings and accommodation.
• Organising events, appearances and engagements.
• Being the first point of contact for clients, internal staff and other PAs.
• Monitoring and responding to email and telephone enquiries.
• Involvement with marketing and business development.
• Establishing and maintaining client relationships.
• Project management.
• Oversight of budgets and accounts
• Drafting correspondence, legal documentation, forms and contracts.
• Carrying out legal research.
• Attending court.
• Making business decisions for bosses when required and appropriate.
• General secretarial and administrative tasks.
• Supervision or management of more junior staff such as Legal Secretaries or Paralegals.
Often, Legal PAs have previous experience as a Paralegal, Legal Secretary, Legal Administrator, or another non-qualified legal support role. Alternatively, experienced PAs may decide to switch to a career in law after spending time within another industry.
While there are no specific qualifications required to become a Legal PA, employers will often look for candidates who demonstrate a strong academic record, plus relevant secretarial experience and evidence of an interest in law. A degree or qualification in law, business administration or secretarial studies may help you to stand out from the crowd, as would a specialist diploma such as that offered by the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA).
Recognised by law firms and legal recruiters, the ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course provides the legal knowledge and practical skills required to become a competent and confident Legal PA. Find out more about the qualification and how to enrol on the ILSPA website.
A Legal PA job description will often call for candidates whose skillset includes:
• Communication, interpersonal and relationship building skills.
• High levels of organisation and flexibility.
• The ability to multitask and deal with competing demands.
• The ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
• Demonstrable legal knowledge.
• Diary management skills.
• Fast and efficient typing.
• Strong writing and drafting skills.
• Technology and IT skills, including experience using the Microsoft Office package.
• General administrative skills such as filing.
• Excellent telephone manner.
According to our upcoming 2021 Audience Insight Report, Legal PAs in the UK earn an average salary of £35,769 per year – up 10% from £32,619 in 2019. This salary varies depending on location, practice area, employer, and experience level, with the most senior Legal PAs reporting salaries of up to £50,000 per year. Legal PAs are also likely to be offered a range of benefits such as private healthcare, pensions, and gym contributions.
Legal PA jobs provide excellent opportunities for those looking to progress a career in law or as an Assistant. For those interested in the legal side of things, a Legal PA role can be the first step towards qualifying as a Legal Executive or Solicitor, while those firmly set on an Assistant career can go on to support increasingly senior individuals or become an EA.
Find out more about your options for progressing your legal career in our Legal Executive Job Description and How to Become a Solicitor articles. Check out SecsintheCity’s Executive PA Job Description for more info on how you could progress to an EA position.
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