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Legal secretaries handle all the administrative tasks involved in running a legal firm. These tasks include:
- typing letters and legal documents such as wills, contracts and court papers
- answering telephone calls, letters, faxes and e-mails
- organising diaries and making appointments
- preparing court forms and statements
- keeping records of costs and controlling petty cash
- dealing with enquires from clients
- attending court or police cells with solicitors
- filing and other general clerical work
In a small firm, legal secretaries develop knowledge and experience of a wide range of legal matters. In a large firm they tend to specialise in one particular area.
How to become a legal secretary
After gaining a good basic education comprising at least 5 GCSEs, including English, aspiring legal secretaries can go on to a legal secretarial course at a college. Apprenticeships are another way of pursuing a career as a legal secretary.
Skills and knowledge required
Good legal secretaries possess the following:
- fast and accurate typing skills
- computer literacy
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- discretion for dealing with confidential information
- a good standard of spelling and grammar
- the ability to work to deadlines
- the ability to work well as part of a team and also alone
- a polite and helpful manner
Salaries range from £12,000 to £18,000 a year, rising to around £25,000 with experience. Highly qualified legal secretaries in top law firms earn up to £36,000 a year.
Legal secretaries usually work eight hours a day from Monday to Friday, but as with most jobs, extra hours may be required during busy periods.