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How to become a Legal Secretary in the UK

Published: Friday 29th January 2021

Legal secretaries work within law firms, assisting lawyers with their work and play an integral role in the legal sector. They hold a wealth of professional skills, providing administrative support. Read on for more information about how to become a legal secretary in the UK in our career guide.

What does a Legal Secretary do?

If you have a methodical approach to your work, and you’re interested in Law, then becoming a Legal Secretary could be the perfect career move for you. The main role of professionals in this job is to provide administrative support for Lawyers, Solicitors and Legal Executives.

Legal Secretary woman holding a document file and smile on face.

Although specific responsibilities vary, duties will usually include the following:

  • organising and operating the office filing system
  • typing various legal documents and taking incoming calls
  • scheduling meetings, and organising the calendars of legal executives
  • producing legal documents like wills and contracts
  • preparing court forms and statements
  • accompanying solicitors to court or police stations
  • keeping records, filing and general administrative work

What qualification do you need to be a Legal Secretary

There are legal secretarial courses available widely at colleges around the UK. It is also possible to enter employment after completing a course in general secretarial skills. In general, there are several paths to enter this profession such as through a college course, an apprenticeship, working towards this role or through taking specialist courses run by a professional body.

To kick off your journey to becoming a legal secretary, you can check out law firms that offer trainee programmes for legal secretaries and any vacancies at smaller firms for assistant legal secretaries. If you’re good at your job, you’ll soon climb up the ladder rungs. Moreover, gaining a qualification is the best way to acquire the legal knowledge and practical skills you’ll need to advance your career. Employers and legal recruiters often check to see whether candidates have a legal secretarial qualification on their CVs as evidence of their capabilities. 

Stack of books with laptop on table in library. studying law or working at a legal firm.

If you don’t have any legal work experience, a Legal Secretaries Diploma course will be of great help in order to gain relevant knowledge on the various areas of law, legal document production and the day-to-day tasks. More importantly, having a recognised qualification will show potential employers you are serious about your career and help you stand out from the crowd.

Skills required

Other qualities and skills that employers often look out for in candidates include administration skills, excellent verbal and written communication and the ability to work well with others. In addition, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure as well as the ability to use your initiative can prove really beneficial in your journey to impressing potential employers. 

If you need further help and guidance you can contact The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA). As the professional body for Legal Secretaries and PAs within the UK, they provide training, career guidance and professional support to people pursuing this career path. 

Salaries and career development

Legal Secretary salaries in the UK may vary from £18,000 to £50,000 depending on experience and the size of the company. There are plenty of career development opportunities for professionals in this role. Many become personal assistants for top lawyers often rewarded with an impressive salary.

Personal assistants tend to work for just one person and are the first point of contact for clients. Also, with experience, you could become a senior secretary, PA or office manager in larger firms. With further qualifications, you could become a legal executive, paralegal or licensed conveyancer. Another option could be to work towards training as a solicitor or barrister

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