In this article our partners ILSPA - The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs share the different paths you can take to become a legal secretary
There are various routes you can take to become a Legal Secretary. Below, we have outlined the most common routes and how to start your journey.
Taking a Legal Secretary course
Gaining a qualification is the best way to acquire the legal knowledge and practical skills you need to work as a Legal Secretary. Law firms and legal recruiters often check to see whether candidates have a legal secretarial qualification on their CVs as evidence of their capabilities.
If you don’t have any legal experience, you will benefit greatly from studying a course.
A Legal Secretaries Diploma course will enable you to gain knowledge in various areas of law, produce legal forms and documents, and understand the day-to-day tasks involved in a Legal Secretary role.Having a recognised qualification will show potential employers you are serious about your career and ensure that you stand out from the crowd.
Working your way up
Law firms can have large support teams to help them, and these teams are made up of people working in various roles and at different levels. You may decide that your goal is to work as a Legal Secretary; however, in order to get there, you may find it beneficial to enter the sector in a different role. For example, you could start as an Administrator, a Secretary or a Receptionist within a legal organisation.
If you have good administrative or secretarial skills, legal recruiters will be willing to take you on with a view to picking up a knowledge of law and procedure as you go along. You may start off doing administrative tasks, but over time your knowledge of legal tasks will expand and you will be given more responsibility.
If you show enthusiasm and willingness, you could be put on a training course by your employer to gain the knowledge and skills you need to perform a Legal Secretary role. As your expertise increases, you could be promoted to a higher position. You could even apply for more-experienced jobs at a new firm in the future.
Legal Secretary apprenticeships
Some of the large law firms run trainee Legal Secretary programmes or offer apprenticeships. Through on-the-job training, you work alongside experienced professionals to acquire various essential skills, as well as study Legal Secretary modules to become competent in the role.
Legal Secretary apprenticeships are usually at the intermediate level and take around one year to complete. Entry requirements for apprenticeships will vary from firm to firm, but typically they will be looking for applicants educated to GCSE level in English and Maths (at least a grade B).
Once you complete your contract, you will be fully trained. You will then be able to secure a permanent role within the firm as a Legal Secretary. For information on apprenticeships, take a look at the careers pages on law firm websites.