On a weekly basis, we get asked “how do I become a legal secretary? “It’s a tough one because most places will look for experience in the role so it can be a catch 22. The question then becomes a little frustrating and is “how can I get experience as a legal secretary, without experience?”.
The best place to start is by upskilling. There are numerous places in Dublin where you can train to be a legal secretary. For example, Pitman Training offers a diploma for up-and-coming legal secretaries in Irish law.
The legal secretarial skills you'll need
On a typical legal secretary training course, you will learn the skills you need to be a legal secretary including:
How to increase your typing speed (up to 50 - 60 WPM)
Effective business communication (different forms of written communication and the lingo you will need to be an expert on)
Audio transcription/dictaphone typing
Extensive Microsoft office training
In terms of soft skills, high attention to detail, excellent communication skills and ability to work to deadlines are all highly sought-after skills and will be needed if you want to excel in this kind of career.
Sometimes this is enough to get your foot in the door and if it is complemented with 1-2 years of previous secretarial or PA experience it is all the better, however, it is not a guarantee so what should you do next if this is the position you find yourself in?
Tips to kick-start your legal secretary career
Here is a list of tips that may assist you in kick-starting your career and your journey to becoming a Legal Secretary once you have completed the training:
Practice makes perfect. Keep your skills fresh and continue to practice typing and dicta typing. Strong typing speeds of 60wpm can be enough to get your foot in the door.
Ensure your CV is clearly laid out and displays your course, modules, and current typing speeds. Your CV is the key that will open the door to an interview and a Cpl recruiter can help you with this.
Volunteer your services to gain work experience. This can be 1- 2 hours a day, 1 day a week or maybe a couple of hours in the evening to complete dictatpying for a solicitor. Approach local firms to get this experience. You will be surprised what job opportunities may arise from doing this and it will strengthen your CV and experience.
Sign up for the relevant legal secretary job alerts on the main job boards and Cpl website.
Get in touch with a recruiter who can advise, guide, and support you in gaining this experience. This might be through temping assignments that may add value or through a junior legal secretarial role they are hiring for. I specialise in these type of roles and you can find all my details on my profile.
Remote working is currently the norm in this sector and firms are fully set up for onboarding and training of new hires and most are working towards a hybrid model of remote and in-office working as restrictions lift.
As the market begins to get busier, we are also seeing an increased demand for legal secretaries – all good news for anyone looking for job opportunities.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a legal secretary or are looking for a new legal secretary opportunity get in touch with me, I’d be delighted to advise [email protected]
This article was originally published in 2019 and has since been updated.