Job as a Legal secretary

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Jane Turner works as a legal secretary. Legal secretarial work carries a lot of responsibility, and it is important that Jane understands the legal terminology and processes she supports.

What do you do?

My main role is typing legal documents. I also speak with clients over the telephone, arrange appointments and take messages. I'm responsible for filing and arranging the storage of original wills and documents, and I also witness the signing of wills. Occasionally, I help out on reception.

What is a typical day like for you?

Although I spend most of my day typing, each day varies depending on what has been dictated and whether clients are coming into the office.

What equipment do you use?

I use a computer which has a digital dictation system.

How did you get into this job as a legal secretary?

I was working at a video publisher as an administrative assistant and wanted a job with more responsibility. I went to an agency and they arranged an interview for me with a law firm. Although I had no experience, I was very fortunate that they offered me the job and gave me a chance to learn something new. I spent a while there and then moved to other firms to gain experience in different areas of law.

Why did legal work appeal to you?

I wanted a change of career and the agency I was with put me forward for a role they thought would suit me. I hadn't actually considered the work before then.

Do you get to know all the clients?

Yes – even though my role is a supporting one, I still have a lot of interaction with clients and it's important that I know what each case involves. As I work with wills and look after the estates of people who have died, I often deal with the elderly, some of whom are hard of hearing. I have to try and speak loud enough for them to hear, but not so loud that they think I'm being rude!

What training have you had?

My training has mostly been on the job within various law firms. Each area of law involves learning new things.

What are your working hours?

I work from 9.00am to 5.00pm. Sometimes I work through my lunch hour if we are very busy.

What do you like best about your job as a legal secretary?

I like the fact that everyone's will is different! It is interesting to find out about people's lives. I also have the opportunity to meet lots of people.

Are there any disadvantages?

Occasionally, I feel so overloaded with work I don't know where to begin! Also, there are times when I cannot help clients with their requests and that can be frustrating.

What skills and qualities are required working as a legal secretary?

You must be a fast and accurate typist and enjoy having a varied and busy workload. Good communication skills are also vital.

Jane's route to her job as a legal secretary

  • NVQ in Business Studies.
  • Administration assistant.
  • General experience in different law firms.
  • Employed as a legal secretary.

Jane's legal secretary tips

  • It's important to have good communication skills, to be patient and able to get on with people.
  • Even if you have no experience, don't be afraid to go for an interview.
  • Many law firms are willing to train you on the job.

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Salary of a legal secretary

  • A junior legal secretary earns around £10,000.
  • The highest salaries are up to £40,000 a year, especially in London and other major cities.

Getting a job as a legal secretary

  • Legal secretaries do not need any particular academic qualifications, although it is helpful to have some GCSEs/S grades or equivalent qualifications in administrative or business subjects.
  • Accurate secretarial skills, especially fast typing, are essential.
  • Some colleges offer legal secretarial training alongside their general secretarial courses.
  • Legal secretarial qualifications are available from The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, and City & Guilds/ILEX (The Institute of Legal Executives), including distance-learning options.
  • Apprenticeships may also be available.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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