Legal Secretaries help Lawyers with their work and are an integral part of a team of legal professionals. One of the most important relationships Lawyers develop in their professional working lives is with their Secretary, so it is beneficial to be of as much assistance as possible to optimise their performance.
Legal Secretaries must have knowledge of law and legal procedures. You must understand not only how to perform certain tasks but also the reason for doing them. When entering the profession it is essential to have studied a course such as ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma, or if you are an experienced Legal Secretary, it is important to undertake professional development so that you are continually advancing your knowledge and skills.
Your role as a Legal Secretary is to assist Lawyers with the handling of clients, produce legal documents, type up dictation and record appointments in the diary, as well as many other important duties. You need to be competent and efficient, with a “can do” attitude, to enable Lawyers to perform their role as smoothly as possible. Lawyers are busy people and your work ethic will have a direct impact on them. You can take time-consuming tasks off their hands, from basic jobs like filing or photocopying to more complex tasks such as editing legal documents.
Lawyers often have a billable hours target, so you will be greatly appreciated if you help them achieve that. They may have various clients to see, attending court and taking part in meetings. Whether you are taking dictation or ensuring that appointments are recorded in the diary, your work is of great value to them.
When working as a Legal Secretary, you can be the “front window” of the firm and will need to deal with clients face to face or on the telephone, especially if your boss is busy. You must be well informed and confident in order to deal with whatever arises as the Lawyers in your firm will rely on you to ensure that clients are looked after. If a situation arises where you are not sure about something, simply ask your boss for clarification or further information. He or she will appreciate you making the effort to provide accurate information and the clients will respect your diligence.
To assist Lawyers effectively you need to:
- Have a positive attitude
- Be cooperative
- Communicate well
- Be approachable
- Be honest
- Show a genuine interest
- Be willing to take on additional responsibilities
- Understand their professional responsibilities
ILSPA’s online resources help our Members with their careers. You can learn how to manage your time, be assertive and deal with challenging clients. Take a look at the professional development articles which appear in our journal and also our online Student and Member area to see what’s available. Advancing your skills will not only help the Lawyers you work for but will also enable you to excel in your career.