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Working as a Legal Secretary.....Advice please!

(7 Posts)
Sereen Sun 21-Apr-13 23:39:10

Hello everyone, long-time lurker here smile I'd really appreciate some advice about all aspects of working as a legal sec. (I hope there are some on MN)

I'm a 19 year old girl and currently a 1st year NatSci student at a London uni, and frankly I hate it. I made a huge mistake attending university and I regret that I didn't listen to friends who told me that if I was uncertain about H.E then I shouldn't waste £9k of my parents money and a year of my life for something I wasn't at least 75% sure of. My college tutors were aghast when I told them I wasn't interested in university and said I would be throwing my life away hmm.

Recently I've been looking at legal secretary courses and I feel that it is something that I could do and enjoy doing, but I don't know anyone in that role so I'm posting here. I have a bunch of questions, if you don't mind answering:

1. What course should I do/ is the most useful? -- I'm currently looking at the CILEX diploma level 2, should I do level 3 instead? How much does it cost?
2. Is there a lot of competition for this job?
3. How would I go about getting experience? (I've never worked before) What sort of things can I do to make me an exceptional candidate?
4. What is the average salary for a junior starting out?
5. I have no degree- will that stand against me?
6. What is the work/life balance like? Do you generally bring work home?
7. How can I tell my parents this? They will be furious that after paying for public school for years I'm dropping out of university to become a secretary.....sad It's not that I'll never return to Higher Education, I just want to be more sure that what I study will be worthwhile.

If you've read this far, thank you! I apologize for blathering on!

NumTumDeDum Sun 21-Apr-13 23:53:50

I'm a solicitor not a legal secretary so I'm not au fait with the various courses. A good secretary is worth their weight in gold, and you can have a very interesting and varied career. My suggestion would be to seek some work experience with local firms with a view to making a decision and some contacts. Not all firms like to offer work experience because of the sensitive nature of the work but some will. At the very least you could try speaking to HR in the bigger firms to see what they require when they are hiring. Hth.

Sereen Mon 22-Apr-13 00:09:33

Thank you Num I am going to start sending emails to HR of the bigger firms and emails to other smaller firms asking for work experience first thing tomorrow!

SingingSands Mon 22-Apr-13 00:23:19

I've been a legal Secretary for the past 11 years, in the same firm. I'll try to answer your questions (following your numbering):

1. I honestly have no idea of courses, so don't feel able to answer this one!

2. Yes. Recruitment is down across the market, in the last 5 years there have been many redundancies in law. We have gone from 22 secretaries to 8 in our department. Companies who are hiring are generally looking for experienced secretaries.

3. Temping is a great way to build experience, I worked as a temp before being offered a permanent contract at the firm I work at now. Also, look out for short term contracts, perhaps for special project teams that might only need people for 4-6 months.

4. I think starting salary for full time would be around £17,000 but would depend on size of firm and where in the country you are based.

5. No. Not many secretaries have a degree.

6. Great. I don't bring work home at all, never have. I might worry about some work when I'm at home but that's quite rare.

7. Only you can answer this!

But here's my thoughts. If you are a bright girl but are struggling with your course I would strongly urge you to stop panicking and speak to your tutors. You might be in the wrong course and changing courses could be the key to a happier you. Being a legal secretary is a good job, but it's nothing more. It's certainly not a career and to be honest, it doesn't often lead to progression. Education is the key to progression.

I have enjoyed my role but I am looking to progress. But I have no university degree, what can I do next? If I had my time over again I would have persevered with uni because a degree opens doors, leads to choices and I bitterly regret walking away from uni.

NumTumDeDum Mon 22-Apr-13 00:29:34

Have you considered becoming a legal executive? There is more opportunity for progression. You can work and study at the same time.

flowery Mon 22-Apr-13 10:10:04

Before you rush into (or out of) anything, I'd suggest considering carefully why you hate it so much. Is it the course you are doing? In which case it's very very common to change courses during or at the end of the first year. Is it the uni you are at, in which case you could change that? Make sure you are absolutely sure your concerns cannot be addressed while staying in study before you come out.

I would also agree with NumTum to look at being a legal exec.

Sereen Mon 22-Apr-13 18:02:54

Thank you all for posting! I appreciate it smile
What is a legal exec, if you don't mind? Is it like a lawyer?

flowery I hate the course I'm doing now for many reasons, but mainly it's because I've found out this year that working in science is not for me and NatSci itself is not what I want to continue studying. As for changing courses being common, yes! That is very true, plenty of first years I know changed their course but not in a thought out, planned and methodical way, rather they haphazardly decided to read whatever sounded vaguely interesting and they tell me they're hoping for the best. shock

I'm not like that, I have a slightly anxious nature and more than anything I like to be sure of things!! Which is why I think it would be so much better for me to work for 2 years, actually earn my own money and get some life experience (I have been incredibly sheltered from life) and then return to university at 21 being more mature and having explored all my options and make a sound reasonable decision of what to study.

singingsands I do agree with you that education is the key to progression, which is why I'm not planning on working as a sec for the rest of my life, just while I get my head together and figure out what I want smile thank you for answering my questions, I have a question for you though, why can you not attend university now? It's certainly never too late. In just one of my classes alone there are six people (men and women) over 30

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