If you want to pursue a career in law but don’t fancy taking centre stage in the courtroom, a role as a legal secretary could be for you. Behind the scenes, barristers, solicitors, and legal executives all need administrative support and this is where legal secretaries come in.
This can be an extremely rewarding career path that is both interesting and challenging. If you are highly organised, have good communication skills, and have an interest in the law, read on to find out more about how to become a legal secretary.
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Day-to-day responsibilities will focus on providing secretarial and administrative support. This might involve:
- Keeping legal records up to date
- Typing and filing legal documents, usually on a computer system
- Answering phones and organising meetings
- Managing diaries
- Preparing court forms
- Attending court when necessary
- Carrying out legal research
To find out more about working as a legal secretary, read our interview with Emma Stacey, Senior Executive at the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs.
There are no set entry requirements to become a legal secretary, however, most employers will expect GCSEs at a minimum. You will usually need English and Maths at grades A*-C (9-4). Experience of office work and a good standard of computer literacy are highly valued by employers.
There are several courses that you could consider taking to help start your career:
- NVQ/SVQ in Business and Administration (levels 3 and 4)
- OCR Higher Diploma in Administrative and Secretarial Procedures
While these will prepare you for broader administrative roles, there are also courses more specific to aspiring legal secretaries:
- Legal Secretaries Diploma run by the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA)
- City & Guilds/CILEx Level 3 Certificate for Legal Secretaries
Communication skills: You will be working with a wide range of people, from barristers and solicitors to their clients, so the ability to communicate well and in a professional manner is essential.
Written communication skills: For your administrative duties, you will need excellent spelling and grammar. A high level of written English will be important for many of your tasks.
Attention to detail: You will need a high level of accuracy when preparing legal documents or filling out forms and statements.
Organisational skills: These are important for managing lawyers diaries and your own work schedule.
IT skills: Most of your work will be carried out electronically.
Teamwork: You will need to be able to work with clients, lawyers, and other legal secretaries.
Starting salary: £18,000 – £22,000
Experienced: £22,000 – £30,000
Senior: £35,000 – £45,000
These figures are intended as a guide and come from the National Careers Service.
According to our data, the average salary for a legal secretary in 2019 was £21,629.27.
The following map also shows the regional average salaries for legal secretaries in 2019, taken from Simply Law Jobs data.
As you gain experience, you will take on more responsibility and could become a senior secretary or manager. It is not unusual for legal secretaries to take further qualifications and become paralegals or chartered legal executives. From here, you could also train to become a solicitor or a barrister.
For more inspiration, see the legal secretary roles we have available on Simply Law Jobs.