A legal secretary is a name given to an individual who performs daily clerical functions necessary for the efficient running of a legal office. The legal secretary must have specialised legal skills in addition to the usual talents of an office secretary. A legal secretary can also be referred to as a legal assistant, administrative assistant or executive assistant.
The primary role of a legal assistant is to offer administrative support services to solicitors, lawyers and legal executives ensuring that the office operates efficiently and smoothly, therefore, allowing the employer to direct their efforts on serving clients efficiently. Even though the responsibilities of a legal secretary may vary from one employer to the other, the roles are similar and include:
- Typing and processing of legal documents such as appeals, subpoenas and summonses among others.
- Taking incoming calls.
- Scheduling meetings and managing the calendar of legal executives.
- Operating and organising the office filing system.
- Carrying out other administrative works such as faxing, photocopying and ordering stationary among others.
Other duties and responsibilities of a legal secretary are; preparation of correspondence and drafting & typing of legal documents; briefs, motions, pleadings, discovery documents, affidavits and summons among other types of legal documents. The secretary is also responsible for tracking legal filing deadlines, creating index, spreadsheets, pleadings and binders as well as scheduling depositions, hearings, meetings and closing.
A Legal secretary also assists their employers with legal research and handles communications with attorneys, opposing counsel, vendors, experts and other staff in the legal office. The person holding the position of the legal secretary must possess some skills including being familiar with legal terminologies, federal courts procure and filling rules, basic legal procedures, law office protocols and drafting of various legal documents. Some of the activities of a Legal Secretary may further include:
- Preparing court forms and statements
- Working from lawyer’s written and audio notes
- Dealing directly with clients
- Diaries and appointment management
- Record keeping
- Accompanying the advocates to court
- Handling clients and employers confidential information
- Producing legal documents such as wills and contracts
- Delivery and collection of documents
In addition to this, a Legal Secretary should also possess excellent typing and dictation skills and be deadline sensitive, due to the fact that most of the assignments are deadline-oriented. With the adoption of ICT in legal processes, legal secretaries also need to have computer skills. You should mainly be proficient with a spreadsheet, word processing, legal research presentation and use of other relevant software like billing and time applications.
Most legal secretaries can work in several places in the UK including corporate legal departments, law firms, government departments, human right and public interest firms and the judiciary.
Qualification and Skills
You should have a diploma in Legal Secretary from recognised institutions which in most cases takes at most two years, and the legal secretary is impacted with a wide range of skills to help them achieve the roles efficiently. Such capabilities include:
- Accuracy and attention to detail
- ICT skills
- Exceptional communication skills
- Good spelling and grammar
- Accuracy and attention to details
- Excellent organisational and planning skills
In the UK, the post of a legal secretary attracts a salary of between £20,000 and £45,000 per year depending on the level of experience and the terms offered by the specific employer.