5 Traits That Great Legal Secretaries Possess
- April 5, 2019
Now that you’ve mastered all of the requisite technical skills and have landed your first job as a legal secretary, how do you set yourself apart as an in-demand professional in the legal field? The answer lies in nurturing a group of key soft skills; though difficult to measure, these skills often count more toward career success than any of the core skills you will have learned. Mastering these five important traits will enable you to excel in your new role.
Reliable & Trustworthy
A legal secretary is a solicitor’s right-hand person, so reliability is a crucial trait that will ensure success. This goes beyond showing up promptly; you might occasionally find yourself called upon to stay at your desk long after other offices have closed for the day.
In a legal office environment, meeting your deadlines is crucial. Often, the work that you are required to do will be linked to a certain timeframe, and if you don’t complete it in time, it could have a negative impact on a client’s case.
Your employer will be relying on you to deliver accurate work within the assigned time. Solicitors value legal secretaries who are reliable and trustworthy, and who are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to get the work done.
Proactive & Driven
The most successful legal secretaries possess drive and initiative. Rather than waiting for a solicitor’s instructions or assignments, they stay on top of what needs to be accomplished in any given time period, by anticipating their employer’s and clients’ needs. Great secretaries are willing to step beyond their comfort zones to learn new skills that will help keep the practice running smoothly.
The best firms will encourage your professional development, as they know it is in their own interests to have a highly skilled team member. You might consider obtaining additional IT or legal qualifications. If you are working in a particular area of law, consider seeking higher qualification relevant to that area. With enough drive and initiative, you can carve out a niche for yourself, becoming not only great at what you do but also making yourself indispensable in the process.
Efficient & Organised
As with any law firm, time is money, so efficiency is an invaluable trait for any successful legal secretary. Secretaries who perform their jobs quickly and efficiently contribute to the bottom line, making themselves indispensable.
However, in order to be efficient, you also have to be organised. Legal secretaries must maintain paper and electronic files, manage projects, track multiple deadlines, maintain calendars, schedule meetings, organise events and keep everything orderly and accessible.
Discrete & Professional
Legal secretaries are constantly handling confidential client files and data, so discretion is essential. Disclosing confidential information, even inadvertently, is one of the quickest ways to end your legal career. If you want to succeed as a legal secretary, you need to make sure that you are able to act with discretion, and that you treat all your work with the necessary confidentiality.
Just as you should leave your personal life at the door when you arrive at work, leave work at work when you close the office door behind you. Avoid rehashing your day with family members or friends; what happens at the law firm, stays at the law firm.
Patient & Understanding
Solicitors have high-pressure jobs that keep them extremely busy, which is why great legal secretaries are so invaluable. Like all work colleagues, solicitors may have certain work habits or attitudes that require a little patience. Some are chronic procrastinators, while others are pretty sure they’re always right, and some are woefully disorganised. An ability to handle all personality types and work challenges with grace is a crucial work trait of any successful secretary.
The clients you deal with will also appreciate your patience and understanding; it’s always good to remember that you may very well be meeting them at a very traumatic or difficult point in their lives.
Patience is key, and the key to patience is understanding. The secretary who handles every situation with diplomacy and tact, smoothing over differences or forging solutions, can become an invaluable member of any legal team.
These are just a few suggestions that could make you not only a great legal secretary but also help you to stand out as an indispensable force in your law firm.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.
Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.