I started working as an office junior in November 1999, aged 17 years. I had actually wanted to be a Travel Agent, but upon gaining one day’s work experience with a local firm I decided this career was not for me, mainly because they put me in a back office to file invoices all day. I really believe that if you are trying to sell a position to someone, they need to experience it properly in order to make an informed decision.
Three weeks later I found myself still unemployed and getting desperate to stand on my own two feet, which is when I came across an advertisement in the jobs section of the local newspaper for an Office Junior in a City Centre Solicitors firm. At this point I didn’t have any office experience, but as they were advertising for a junior I thought, “How much experience could they want from me?”
I went for an interview, and lo and behold I was offered the position on the spot! I accepted the job offer and started two days later.
Six months passed quite quickly and my boss invited me to meet with him for a review of my progress to date. He explained that he was more than happy with my work and that as I had shown initiative, was very thorough and appeared to be very keen to learn new skills, he would like to train me up as a Legal Secretary. I jumped at the chance! I enjoyed being an office junior, but I knew I didn’t want to be making tea forever!
I started off with some audio typing, and slowly but surely progressed from there. I find that audio typing is a fantastic way of learning how things work in a small office. While the solicitors are dictating the letters, you get to learn how each type of correspondence should be responded to and how to set the letters out and word them with the correct legal terminology.
A few years later, still working for the same firm but having been advised by my employer that he had every confidence in me, he encouraged me to apply for the Legal Secretaries Diploma course and he even paid for it on my behalf.
I was working full-time and I explained that by the time I travelled home I wouldn’t have the time to travel back and forward to college via public transport (as I can’t drive) and he explained that this was, in fact, a “home study course.”
I researched the course on the Internet and it sounded really interesting. My employer paid the fee and within a week or so I received the first section of my course contents, together with the achievement test
I can honestly say that I enjoyed studying the course and found it very useful in my day-to-day work. I was able to retain the course contents that had been sent to me and even now, a few years on, I am able to reference the material and relate it to current cases that I am working on.
I have now been a legal secretary for almost eleven years. Last year I started working for a new firm, and I am now working in areas of law that I have never had any experience in dealing with, Criminal Law and Matrimonial. I mentioned the Legal Secretaries Diploma course that I completed and explained that there were advanced level single subject courses available in both the areas of law that I am now working in and my current employers have paid for me to enrol on both courses. I have just received my course contents and note that this course requires a lot of reading. The assessments are in the form of essay questions, which I am really looking forward to “getting my teeth into,” as I know that in order to provide my answers to the questions I will have to not only read the information but also learn and understand it. Again, I like the fact that I get to retain the material, as I will always have it there for future reference.
I have not yet completed my first assignment, but so far I have gained a wealth of information which is making my day-to-day work a lot easier; I now know what I am talking about when speaking about, for example, hybrid offences.
I couldn’t recommend these courses enough and I am really looking forward to completing the Criminal Law course and beginning the Matrimonial & Civil Partnership course.
Susan Forsythe, Fellowship Member