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Legal Secretary

Legal secretaries undertake a range of task supporting the legal work of a firm, department or individual. As with all occupations, the role will vary from employer to employer – a legal secretary in a small firm may undertake the full range of office management tasks; in a large firm the scope of the work may be more focused. Typical tasks include:

  • Typing and preparing contracts and agreements, according to a lawyer’s instructions
  • Typing letters and correspondence
  • Managing diaries and appointments
  • Preparing forms and other documents
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How do you become a legal secretary in the UK?

There is no ‘route’ into being a legal secretary. Usually, you would progress to this position from a more administrative role and apply to advertised vacancies. While qualifications beyond GCSE are not necessary, you would need a fast typing-speed to be eligible for junior roles.

Once employed, there are courses and qualifications that may help you, such as those offered by the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA).

What skills does a legal secretary need?

The role of a legal secretary can vary considerably and, therefore, so can the skills required. However, core to all work in this position would be:

  • Fast and accurate typing
  • Good attention to detail
  • Organisational skills
  • Ability to multi-task and manage competing demands

Do you need a degree to become a legal secretary?

You do not need a legal qualification or degree to become a legal secretary. Some law graduates will take up legal secretarial roles to gain insight and experience of working in a law firm.

Career paths and progression

As with many jobs, career progression can lead to a more senior role with greater responsibility and a move into management and supervision of others doing the job.

With the combined ‘office’ focus and legal focus of the job, progression is possible into other roles for example as a PA in a law firm or as a paralegal.

How much does a legal secretary earn?

As with all roles in the legal sector the nature of the work undertaken by the firm is a key determinant of salary, along with experience. As a ‘trainee’ legal secretary, outside London in a small firm, salaries may be as low as £15-£18,000. With experience, at a commercial firm, in London, salaries could be as high as £40,000 or more depending on the exact responsibilities.

What is a ‘float legal secretary’?

In a larger law firms, some legal secretaries may not be associated with a particular team and will be required to move around a department as needed.

What is the difference between a paralegal and a legal secretary?

While there are some overlaps between tasks undertaken by a legal secretary and a paralegal – the legal secretarial role focuses on the secretarial, office and PA elements of the work, whereas the focus of a paralegal will be on the legal elements of the work and, in many cases, paralegals will have legal qualifications.

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