Legal Secretaries are responsible for providing secretarial and administrative support to Lawyers, Legal Executives and other types of fee-earning legal professionals within law firms, Barristers’ chambers and in-house legal teams. They are essential in ensuring that the workplace runs in the most efficient way possible.
The role of a Legal Secretary can be demanding at times – working in the busy world of law can certainly be a challenge. However, the work is varied and interesting, and a career as a Legal Secretary offers good financial and progression prospects.
A Legal Secretary may also be known as a Court Secretary or Barrister’s Clerk, depending on the employer or role. While the role is similar to that of a Legal PA, there are distinct differences, more of which you can learn about in our Legal PA Job Description article.
Legal Secretary duties and responsibilities can vary depending on factors such as the practice area you work in or the size of the team you support. However, day-to-day tasks are likely to include the following:
• Typing and filing legal documents.
• Keeping records up to date.
• Diary organisation.
• Taking phone calls.
• Preparing paperwork and court forms.
• Conducting legal research.
• Liaising with clients.
• Attending court and police stations on occasion.
• Managing expenses.
If you are at the start of your legal career and wondering how to become a Legal Secretary, you may be pleased to learn that there are no specific entry requirements that must be met before you can start applying for Legal Secretary jobs. This makes the role a great option for school leavers and graduates who want to kickstart a career in law without becoming a Solicitor or Paralegal.
With that said, most employers expect good GCSE grades of C and above in Maths and English at a minimum. Employers are at liberty to set their own entry requirements, so you may find job adverts which ask for A-levels or a university degree.
Legal Secretary Qualifications & Courses
You may find your Legal Secretary job search more fruitful if you have completed a relevant course or qualification in secretarial studies, business administration or similar.
The following courses are a good starting point:
• OCR Higher Diploma in Administrative and Secretarial Procedures.
• NVQ/SVQ in Business and Administration - Levels 3 and 4.
At a more advanced level, you could choose to study specialist Legal Secretary courses such as the Legal Secretary Diploma offered by our strategic partners at the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA). The course covers the six main practices of law and is suitable for people with no legal background as well as experienced Legal Secretaries and PAs. Find out more on the ILSPA site.
Some employers may send you on single-subject specific courses, particularly if you work for a specialist firm that deals with one area of law such as conveyancing or litigation and do not already have relevant experience. If you know which area of law you want to work in, having a practice area specific qualification on your CV will put you ahead of the competition.
What Skills Does a Legal Secretary Need?
An interest in the law and secretarial experience are of course important, but what other skills and experiences does a Legal Secretary need? Many employers look for the following:
• Organisational skills.
• Administrative skills.
• Written and verbal communication skills<.br /> • Good typing speed and skills.
• Excellent telephone manner.
• IT proficiency - Microsoft Office and database management programmes specifically.
• Attention to detail.
• The ability to work well as part of a team.
What is the average salary for Legal Secretary jobs? Findings from our 2021 Audience Insight Report indicate that Legal Secretaries are paid an average of £28,235 per year.
However, your earnings will vary depending on factors like location, practice area, type of employer and your level of experience. You could be earning in excess of £40,000 per year if you are highly experienced and employed by a large firm in a major city.
Becoming a Legal Secretary can be a springboard to many different career paths, both inside and outside the legal profession.
You may find that you enjoy working within legal but are not so keen on secretarial work. In this case, you could choose to pursue a career as a fee earning professional such as a Paralegal or Solicitor.
Find out how to become a Paralegal and how to become a Solicitor in our comprehensive articles.
On the other hand, you might be enamoured with administration but interested in trying out a different industry. In this case, your experience as a Legal Secretary will have a lot of transferable value to Secretary, Office Manager and PA roles in other sectors.
For the Legal Secretaries who enjoy both the legal profession and secretarial work, there is plenty of scope to progress your career into a Legal PA or EA role. Find out more about the role in our Legal PA Job Description.
A career as a Legal Secretary is an excellent steppingstone into the legal profession which does not require qualifying as a Legal Executive or Solicitor. However, it is still a demanding and fast-paced job that requires excellent organisation, communication, and administrative skills. Being a Legal Secretary is a great foundation for developing your career in either the legal sector, a secretarial position, or a combination of the two.
Ready to start your job search? Browse and apply for the latest Legal Secretary jobs today on TotallyLegal.