So you’ve decided you’d like to work in a law firm and are considering a role as a Legal Assistant / Legal Secretary. But what skills do you need to be one? OneLegal Training & Recruitment staff spoke to a number of Legal Assistants working across several areas of law and these are the main 5 skills they mentioned:
- Enjoy helping others – The word “Assistant” means just that – you’ll be helping out others on a day-to-day basis. This will include the lawyers you’ll be supporting, as well as clients and work colleagues. Whoever it is – you will be required to help others regularly, so you need to be a “people person” who gets satisfaction from helping and working with others. This is not usually the best job for someone who enjoys working alone!
- Good typing skills – Although a Legal Assistant’s role is usually varied, it will inevitably require a reasonable amount of typing each day, and this also includes having good spelling and grammar. If your skills in this area aren’t top notch, you’ll need to be prepared to work on them. So if the thought of doing lots of typing, then having to spell and grammar check your work makes you yawn, then maybe consider a different career option!
- Able to prioritise work tasks – In any Legal Assistant role, some times will inevitably be busier than others – and you won’t always know in advance! Several things may happen all at once, for example, the phone may ring; someone may come in to speak with you; an urgent email may pop up; and a Lawyer may put work on your desk! You’ll need to be able to think clearly and use your initiative to decide the best order to do everything in, and then be able get on with things in a timely and efficient way. If you prefer having structured, even-paced tasks in your day, then maybe it’s time to consider better-suited careers for you!
- Be IT-savvy – In today’s ever-changing world, it is becoming more important for Legal Assistants to be able to learn and adapt to new technology. A Legal Assistant’s role is becoming progressively more efficient, with the advance in many new types of office systems such as databases, accounts packages, videoconferencing systems and cloud-based technology – to name just a few. If you prefer not to have to keep up with the times by regularly learning new or upgraded systems, then a Legal Assistant may not be the role you!
- Always give 100% – A Legal Assistant can be a great career, but it’s not all plain sailing! There will be times where things don’t go to plan and your patience will be tried. Sometimes when you’d planned to leave on time, issues will arise, and at other times, unexpected obstacles will present themselves. It can be tempting to handball things to someone else, or leave things to another day to fix – but people will be relying on you to do your job properly and to the best of your abilities – and this means always giving 100% to the tasks at hand. If you’re not prepared to do this, then another career option may be worth considering!
End note – If, after reading this, you’re still interested in becoming a Legal Assistant, you may also like to consider studying for our BSB30320 Certificate III in Legal Services, an online, flexible-learning course deigned to equip you with the basic skills and knowledge to embark on a Legal Assistant career. The course covers each of the skills listed in the first four points above, including working with others; practising your typing; prioritising workloads; and using new technology; the last and fifth point regarding giving 100% is up to you! J If you’d like more information, simply call Janie or Claudia on 03 9670 5020