The Barrister’s Secretary

Legal Secretary CoursesWhen people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a typist, which is partly true.

I think it’s part of that British thing of not wanting to blow your own trumpet, not wanting to brag.

The whole truth is that I’m an experienced, Pitman trained legal secretary, working for a prominent barrister in Lincolns Inn Fields. If you read the Times, or listen to Radio 4, you’ll be aware of my boss as she handles high profile divorce cases.

And I’m the engine room, as it were, striving to make the admin side of the law operate smoothly.

It wasn’t always that way.

I used to be a receptionist at the Silver Vaults, just off Chancery Lane and I got jealous of a friend who had taken a legal secretarial course at Pitman Training on High Holborn which got her into a fabulous, well-paid job.

It’s lucky I have a jealous streak, otherwise I would never have paid way more than I can afford to study a legal secretarial course of my own and which led to a Pitman Training diploma.
It was really hard, studying after work every evening for a year, but I couldn’t let my friend get too far ahead of me!

I learnt to type properly, without looking at the keyboard or at my fingers. And I mastered Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook to a level most people don’t even know exists. For my specialist legal secretarial courses, I studied “An Introduction To Being A Legal Secretary,” “Family Law” and “Wills & Probate.”

At the end of a year, I was so exhausted, I thought I was going to die, but then one of the trainers slipped a note onto my desk. It was about a secret job in a barrister’s chambers just behind the training centre.

The training team thought I was ready and that I should apply.

I felt I had nothing to lose and it would be good practise for me, so I arranged an interview.

On arrival, the incumbent secretary set me a number of tests, such as touch typing and use of the audio transcriber. With my newly acquired level of skill, these were a piece of cake, so I was ushered into the boss’ office, for the real interview.

I’d never met a barrister before and she was as frighteningly clever yet charming as I had imagined one to be.

Even when we were discussing non-work stuff, her questions were gentle but incisive and I found myself giving away much more than I had intended about myself.

I wasn’t sure how well I had come across and heard nothing for 5 days, when I received a letter through the post – yes, a real letter, with a stamp on it!

I was being invited back for a selection day with two other girls, so I reckoned I had a one-in-three chance of getting the job.

At the selection day, we were given a number of individual and collaborative tasks to do and each one of us was pathetic at some of these.

At the end of the day, we were called in one by one for our results. I went first, so I assumed I had performed the worst. But it turned out they wanted me!

The boss said we had all performed pretty poorly at the selection tasks but it was the fact that I had bothered to find, pay for and complete a diploma level, Pitman Training legal secretarial course that swung it for me. She was impressed by my commitment, even if some of my work during the day was on the dodgy side.

So I left my receptionist job and embarked on a new career as a barrister’s secretary!

If you’d like to learn about training for a career as a legal secretary, visit Pitman Training at or call them:

London Notting Hill – 020 7792 5214

London Holborn – 020 7025 4700

Central Manchester – 0161 923 6184

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