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How I Became a Legal Secretary

Having left school at 16 with several “o” levels but no real direction other than that I wanted to work in an office, I started working in a small friendly commercial office doing general office work and reception duties.  It was devastating when I was made redundant after only seven months as I enjoyed my job and loved the people I worked with.  I immediately signed on with several recruitment agencies in my home town, had a short term temp job as a receptionist/typist in a very small legal office in the town centre and immediately got “the bug”.

I applied for an office junior vacancy in a firm which was in the process of expansion.  I attended my interview at the small office in the high street and then was lucky enough to be offered the position.  When I started, they had actually moved into a much larger, more modern office. It was a very exciting time for me, learning a new role with so many exciting avenues to explore.  This was at a time when offices still used typewriters but they were becoming more technical with memory boxes to enable a range of standard type letters to be stored.  It was a time when documents were still “sewn” with green, black and pink silk ribbon according to the type of document.  I happily soaked up all the new experiences.  Then, a few years later feeling a need to expand my knowledge further I took a post as a junior Legal Secretary in another firm.  Here I worked for the Senior Partner, and myself and my colleague being of similar age became a great team (such a great team in fact that we worked together as Secretaries for 24 years!)

Along came the start of the computer age and I took evening classes in word processing to aid my progression.  I also took an “o” level in Law at evening classes and attained an A* with distinction.  My main legal experience was in Conveyancing, both residential and commercial but I also assisted in the matrimonial and litigation departments and also, did some work in Wills and Probate.  I have changed practices twice since then each time broadening my knowledge and experience.

It was six months before I obtained my current job, that I decided to sign up for the Legal Secretaries diploma course.  It was a difficult time within the legal market with lots of redundancies and I wanted to be able to have something a little extra special on my CV that would make me stand out from the crowd.  I had applied for a couple of jobs outside of the legal sector but really, my heart was in the Law and I do feel that there is something a bit special about being a Legal Secretary.  When I passed my diploma it gave me a huge boost, I had only been in my new job for three months but it gave me a fresh confidence and I proudly showed my new boss my certificate.  I truly love my job and even though I have been doing it for nearly 30 years, I am constantly learning new things.  I haven’t however, forgotten some of the old things...like sewing up documents with silk ribbon!

Julie Vincent FILS

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