A Legal Secretary at work during a real estate transaction – Photo Courtesy: Tim Menzies
The role of legal secretaries has changed over the years, although one of their main duties is to ensure that a legal office runs efficiently. A legal secretary can also be known by a number of other names, including administrative assistant, executive assistant and legal assistant. Anyone applying for the role as a legal secretary will need to perform the usual office administrative tasks, such as typing, filing, answering the phone, dictation, but they will also need certain skills which will allow them to work within the legal industry. Most employers will also look favorably on someone who possesses a good working knowledge of law.
Prior to becoming a legal secretary, many people spend some time working as a legal receptionist which will give them a good idea of the future duties that may be expected of them. These may include drafting legal documents and managing the relationship between the law firm and their clients. These duties will require a fair amount of knowledge about law in general and how a law firm actually works. Many legal secretaries eventually further their career in paralegal positions or roles that require a senior secretary.
As a legal secretary you will be required to prepare a number of legal documents, which may of course include typing them up first. These documents will include briefs, subpoenas, motions, etc. You will typically also need to create spreadsheets and keep these regularly updated as well as maintaining an accurate and easily accessible filing system. You may also be required to draft legal documents and legal invoices. You will need to spend some time completing legal research, which may involve liaising with others within the legal environment, such as lawyers, judges, etc.
What Skills Will A Legal Secretary Require?
To be completely honest, there are many different skills that a legal secretary will require. Some of these skills are mandatory, whereas others will be preferred by potential employers. In the modern day and age, it is a prerequisite that you have certain technology skills, which include being able to use word processing, desktop publishing and videoconferencing. You will also need to have great interpersonal skills as you will need to liaise with a vast array of different people, ranging from important members of the law fraternity to clients who need your help.
Legal secretaries will need to be extremely well organized and this doesnâ€™t just mean organizing themselves, but usually a lawyer that they are working for and indeed their clients. You must be able to show great attention to detail as one small mistake could prove very costly for a firm or a client they are representing. You will need to show great writing and typing skills as you may constantly be required to take notes and then immediately type up legal documents to a deadline.
It also helps if you are familiar with legal documents and also the terminology used in a law firm on a daily basis. This is how you will differentiate yourself from being a secretary or legal secretary, as your knowledge of law is paramount to your success. Finally, you should be able to work effectively as part of a team as you will be interacting with many different people on a daily basis.
Jenny Wadlow enjoys sharing information related to law through her articles. She has previously worked for KL Recruitment, an agency that specializes in recruiting legal administration, secretaries and other support staff. You can catch up with her on TwitterÂ @JennyWadlow.