AS a legal secretary, you would provide administrative support for lawyers and legal executives, and help with the day-to-day tasks involved in running a legal firm.
Your tasks would be varied and depending on what department you work in your duties could include:
n TYPING letters and producing legal documents such as wills, contracts and court papers;
n WORKING from notes dictated onto audiotape;
n ANSWERING telephone calls, letters, faxes and e-mails;
n ORGANISING diaries and making appointments;
n PREPARING court forms and statements;
n KEEPING records of costs and controlling petty cash;
n DEALING with enquiries from clients;
n ATTENDING court or police cells with solicitors;
n DELIVERING and collecting documents;
n FILING and other general clerical work.
If you worked in a small local law firm, you would develop experience in a wide range of legal matters, whilst in larger firms you would tend to specialise in a particular area of law.
In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Part-time and temporary work are also often available.
You would be mainly office-based, but may also travel around your local area to deliver documents, visit police stations or attend court.
Starting salaries can be between £12,000 and £20,000 a year, depending on your location.
With experience, this can rise to between £20,000 and £30,000.
Highly-qualified legal secretaries in top law firms can earn up to £36,000 a year.
Employers will expect a good standard of literacy, and you may have an advantage with a GCSE (A-C) in English, or a similar level of qualification.
You will usually need experience of office work, plus accurate typing skills. You would also have an advantage if you had audio transcription skills.
Temporary office work (known as ‘temping’) is a good way of getting relevant experience. Full- and part-time courses in computer and secretarial skills are widely available at local colleges and through training companies.
You may find it useful to take a recognised legal secretarial course before you look for work.
However, this is not always essential if you have good general administrative skills and a knowledge of law.
You may be able to get into secretarial work through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Your training would usually be a combination of learning on the job from experienced staff, and studying for a recognised legal secretarial qualification.