A legal secretary requires all the same skills as a Secretary or PA in another field. These include a good knowledge of MS Office products with especially good competence in MS Word and Outlook both diary/contact management and e-mail; a typing speed of at least 60 words per minute will be required by the larger law firms.
What will be needed in addition is a sound knowledge of legal document layout and presentation both from scratch and from company designed templates. This knowledge can be obtained from training courses such as the CILEX Legal Secretary Courses and from specifically designed short courses which cover the practical side of the legal secretarial function, whilst requiring you to have a good range of
generic skills in order to enrol.
Careers Explained: Difference between a Legal Secretary and a Secretary
Many of the courses available and called “legal secretarial courses” lack the following:
A. Many are basically introductory law courses teaching the student about the law at a ground floor level; these courses are interesting, and even quite enjoyable, but have no practical application as a Legal Secretary.
B. Many will allow enrollment without a basic skill level; this is misleading as legal secretaries must have above average skill bases.
As stated above, the long established Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), which recently received a Royal Charter, has been creating a benchmark level of legal secretarial qualifications for more than one hundred years. Most would accept that it is the main qualification accepted by the legal industry at large in England and Wales.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and author Michal Marcol
The course can take between four and twelve months to complete depending on your application to it. Various state colleges offer the course annually on a one year basis normally starting in September; a few
private providers offer multiple start dates with the opportunity to complete within a far shorter time frame.
Very few providers offer a finely targeted non CILEx course which can be completed within a month
but which will require a good range of generic skills in order to enrol; these providers often offer training in these generic skills, should these be needed, prior to starting the legal secretarial course.
If you would like to see more about a shorter course, you can read more here