How to become a legal secretary
The role of legal secretary is a great choice for anyone obsessed with detail and meticulous in organisational skills. There are ample opportunities and a good legal secretary will never be out of work. It’s a vital role and highly valued. You don’t need to go to university to qualify as a legal secretary and you can enter the fascinating world of the law.
What does a legal secretary do?
A legal secretary provides administrative support to lawyers and legal executives. This may be within the offices of a law firm or you may have a job in court or even at a police station. Depending on the type of lawyers you support your tasks will change. Generally, you will be managing diaries, organising and minuting meetings, drawing up documents and supporting lawyers in court and client meetings. Legal secretaries are specialist personal assistants, with training in the formal procedures and confidentiality matters that come with the sector.
What training does a legal secretary need?
There are a few routes to becoming a qualified legal secretary. You can enter the legal world as a trainee assistant which only requires 5 GCSEs. You can then work your way up, completing professional training as you go. There are apprenticeships available and this is becoming a popular choice. You will work and study towards formal qualifications as you go.
Most legal secretaries gain qualifications at college before entering the world of work. CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) offers diplomas that are offered nationwide and online. There are very cheap online training courses that don’t have formal certification. If you are not sure if the route is for you it may be worth checking them out but if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting a job, do your research and complete a well-respected qualification.
What can I expect from a career as a legal secretary?
Legal secretaries are always in demand. Although starting wages are around £20k, an experienced legal secretary can expect to earn up to around £40k. Senior legal secretaries for a corporate law firm in London could earn more.
It can be a challenging role, depending on the legal field. The secretary for a conveyancing solicitor is likely to work normal office hours but if you work for a criminal barrister or international acquisitions and mergers you will likely work irregular hours. Being a legal secretary is a fantastic career in itself but you may end up taking legal qualifications yourself. Many secretaries become paralegals (someone with extensive legal knowledge who is not a qualified lawyer) and solicitors.
If you would like to become a lawyer but don’t want to take on the debt of university, it may be worth considering this route. If you make a good impression, the law firm you work for may well agree to pay for your education.
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