12 In-Demand Legal Secretary Skills Companies Look For
Updated 3 September 2023
An interview is a great place to showcase your personality, highlight your strengths and positively impact your potential employer. Having legal secretary skills like flexibility, organisation, communication, time-management and negotiation can influence hiring decisions in your favour. If you have an interest in this career, you can work on some key competencies required for this role to help with your employment prospects. In this article, we define legal secretary skills and their importance, explore 14 examples of these skills and explain how you can improve them at the workplace and highlight them during the job application process.
What are legal secretary skills?
Legal secretary skills refer to the important qualities and abilities that effective legal secretaries possess to do their job. A legal secretary prepares court documents, schedules clients, organises documents and keeps notes of legal statements and forms. Your skills and competency for the legal secretary role give an interviewer insight into how effective you are in performing duties and taking responsibilities. To increase your chances of securing a legal secretary role, you require diverse hard and soft skill sets, including attention to detail, problem-solving, communication, negotiation skills, legal terminology, procedures and documentation.
12 common skills for legal secretaries
Here are 12 common skills you can consider improving to better perform in your legal secretary role:
1. Attention to detail
A legal secretary role requires good attention to detail. While proofreading and transcribing legal papers and statements, legal secretaries ensure that every piece of information is accurate and properly formatted. To detect inaccuracy and faults, it is essential for a legal secretary to be detailed and careful.
As a legal secretary, your job involves managing large numbers of documents and files concurrently. You may also require scheduling appointments and meetings and keeping records of legal documents and cases. Having organisational skills helps you devise a method for managing documents to retrieve them efficiently. It is important for you to organise scheduled meetings and appointments to ensure that nobody misses any meetings or appointments.
3. Time management
A legal secretary's work often involves strict timelines, such as hearing dates, clients' urgency and project deadlines. You may also manage more than one case at once. Excellent time management enables you to deliver high-quality work on time. You may consider making comprehensive work plans and setting daily targets for better time management.
4. Legal expertise
Legal secretaries also require legal knowledge and expertise to handle various legal works. Effectively editing, formatting, filing and making legal papers depends on your understanding of legal language and procedures. As a legal secretary, you may work on various documents, such as moving, briefs, petitions, pleadings, agreements and affidavits. Each of these documents has its procedures, terminology and format. It is crucial for you to understand the requirements and meaning of each file to prepare these documents correctly.
Being adaptable is necessary for legal secretary jobs. As a legal secretary, you may be handling various types of cases and sometimes your responsibilities may involve reading legal books, going to libraries and meeting people for finding laws and proofs for cases. Law offices manage multiple cases at a time. To accomplish your tasks, it may become necessary for you to work extra hours. Being flexible can help you work efficiently and prevent you from possible work frustration.
6. Critical thinking
As a legal secretary, your responsibilities may include researching and giving input on cases. Critical thinking skills allow you to think objectively and evaluate things analytically. With critical thinking skills, you can assess a case better and provide a more rational input to your lawyer. To improve your critical thinking abilities, you can practise logical debates, read more books, understand and consider others' thoughts and opinions and solve complex problems.
7. Communication skills
Communication skills are an integral part of legal secretary jobs. As a legal secretary, you are the first point of contact for every client and you interact with multiple people daily. Communication skills allow you to better respond to every new client, understand their concerns and convey relevant information to the lawyer. Having strong communication skills also helps you create a positive impression of the law firm.
8. Research skills
It may be necessary for you to do lots of research while preparing legal documents. As a legal secretary, it may also be necessary for you to answer some complex questions from clients that require basic research. Developing your research skills might help you get your solutions easily and finish your work fast and efficiently.
9. Computer skills
In this digital era, almost companies in every sector use computers. Law firms also use computers to streamline the work process, managing files, documents and client information. To succeed in a legal secretary role, you require basic computer skills. You can learn or develop your computer skills by practising things on the computer, taking short offline certification or diploma courses or watching online tutorials.
10. Multitasking skills
Multitasking enables you to complete multiple tasks at once without losing track of what you are doing. Being good at multitasking and managing workloads to deliver required documents on time are important parts of a legal secretary's duties. As a legal secretary, your responsibilities may involve you doing several different jobs every day without sacrificing the quality of the work.
Professionalism involves the capacity to cooperate across teams and the ability to develop long-term relationships both inside and outside the firm. Being a legal secretary, it is important that you show professionalism to maintain a positive impression of yourself and your law firm. Being professional also enables you to follow a good work ethic and companies code of conduct.
Almost every job requires problem-solving abilities. Good problem-solving abilities help you think logically and make better analyses to solve workplace problems quickly and effectively. Showing your problem-solving skills in legal secretary interviews makes you more competitive. You can apply these skills wisely to the legal secretory role when you have many cases to work upon. Using these skills for solving your colleagues' problems can also help you establish better relationships with them.
How to improve skills as a legal secretary in the workplace
Here are the steps you can consider following to improve your skills as a legal secretary:
1. Set your goals
Consider listing skills you want to improve and set goals for them. When listing skills, think about your weaker areas and prioritise your goals accordingly. For instance, if you find your research skills and computer skills are weak, consider focusing more on those. Create a plan to achieve them and start following this plan.
2. Observe your colleagues
You can also improve your skills by observing your colleagues and seniors. Observe how they manage to deliver high-quality work on time. Consider asking them for resources to improve your legal knowledge and expertise.
3. Ask for feedback
Consider requesting constructive feedback from your colleagues and supervisor to assist you in improving your weaker skills. Constructive criticism helps you to set better goals and advance in your career. Listen to their comments and suggestions carefully and consider them while making your improvement plan.
Ways to highlight skills for legal secretaries
Here are some tips for highlighting your relevant skills during the job application process:
On a resume
Highlighting your skills on your resume shows an employer your strengths and abilities as a candidate. When listing your skills, first read the job description to find specific skills that align with your abilities. It can demonstrate that you are a good fit for the role. Consider focusing first on your hard skills and add a few of the most important soft skills in the list section on your resume.
On a cover letter
Writing a cover letter allows you to explain your skills with practical examples. You can describe in your cover letter how you utilised your skills and knowledge to improve your work efficiency and deliver high-quality work in your past roles. It shows your experience and abilities to your potential employer, making you a suitable candidate for the role.
In an interview
During a job interview, you can display both soft and hard skills. Employers typically assess soft skills during the interview process, as the interviewer can analyse your behaviour and personality. Arriving on time or early displays your time management. Your effective and clear response to the interviewer's question shows communication skills. The interviewer may also ask you some job-specific questions. This allows you to show your legal knowledge by using the proper terminology and procedures while answering. Responding sensibly with a solution can also allow you to showcase your problem-solving skills.
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