Working as a legal secretary can be extremely rewarding, as well as being varied day-to-day and offering good opportunities for career development.
With plenty of different areas of law to work in and various sizes of solicitors practices as potential employers, there is a lot of choice for those thinking of becoming a legal secretary.
It can therefore be a little daunting trying to decide what sort of direction you want to take your career in this
In this, the first of two pieces on the profession, we give those who have already enrolled on a legal secretary course, or are considering doing so, an idea of what it is like to work in different types of company.
Joanne T is a legal secretary at Steadmans Solicitors, a small, family-run practice in Tunbridge Wells.
Husband and wife team Gerry and Geoff set up the practice in 1995.
Both had worked for other law firms in the town for around 15 years prior to launching their own business.
Gerry and Geoff are the only fee earners in the company and work in conjunction with their team of legal secretarial staff and assistants.
They offer a personal service, dealing with all legal matters themselves.
The company deals with the areas of buying, selling and remortgaging residential property, commercial and development property transactions, probate, wills and powers of attorney.
Importance Of Training.
Ms T is part of a team that has to ensure that Gerry and Geoff’s administrative needs are met so that they can concentrate on legal work.
Her day-to-day job involves many of the usual tasks that a legal secretary would be expected to perform.
“Basically, it’s audio typing, telephone calls, photocopying, scanning, all those sort of admin things, making appointments. But the bulk of it is actually typing,” she said.
Ms Ti explained that legal secretary courses are important for getting a job within the profession.
“I did a course many years ago. I think you need to have that and also have quite a fast typing speed,” she explained.
Ms T said that the required average speed is about 55 or 60 words per minute.
She recommended that those thinking of going on legal secretary courses make sure they achieve this to demonstrate to employers.
Variety And Diversity.
Ms T said the advantage of working in a small firm where there is a variety of different legal services provided means that the job is more diverse.
“I prefer it because there’s more interest,” she explained.
“It depends what law you’re actually dealing with,” she continued.
“Some are much more interesting than others. Some involve very short cases and some can go on for years, where you can get a lot of involvement in it.
“When it comes to moving between small and large companies, Ms T believes the ease of switching jobs in the industry is dependent on the area of law you want to go into.
“If you were going to a specific area of law that you have not done before, I imagine they would want some kind of experience,” she said.
Having said that, Ms T found that when doing temporary work in London, she was able to transfer the skills she learned on legal secretary courses to different areas of the law.
“I have temped in London before and done various types of law, going from one type to the other, and it’s been quite easy just to slip in. It’s a case of having to pick it up quickly and get on with it,” she explained.
So what is it about the job that Ms T likes best?
“It’s always very busy, so you’ve always got something to do,” she confirmed.
In a small firm like Steadmans, there is so much going on that there is little time to get bored, she insisted.