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What skills does a Legal Secretary need to succeed?

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MJD Executive is a specialist recruitment agency renowned for offering valuable market insight and job seeking assistance to the legal support market across Australia. As a Legal Secretary recruitment service, we liaise with boutique, mid, top tier, local, national and global firms on a daily basis. We know exactly which skills and traits are needed to be a Legal Secretary that is highly valuable.

Thinking outside the box a little we wanted to highlight some of the important traits not spoken about as often as things like organisational skills, attention to detail, communication skills etc. In our opinion, the following traits are things that you need to master whether you work for a single Lawyer or a large law firm:

Patience

Lawyers have incredibly demanding, high pressure roles at times and each and every one handles their stress in a different way. Working with a variety of personality types and learning how to be patient whilst you figure out how to support them in times of stress is vital. Many law firms have exceptional resources in Secretarial Coordinators, Practice Managers or HR representatives who are there to support you in finding the best way to work with particular people and maybe even transition you into other practices where you may be better suited. A highly valuable Legal Secretary is one who works on their patience and ability to not take things in the workplace personally, to identify when people are experiencing stress and support them in the best way possible.

Reliability

When you prove that you are reliable you are given more and more opportunity and responsibility. When you are given more opportunity and responsibility you are more accountable and need to maintain that reliability. Most legal support staff that we liaise with are keen to be trusted with more challenging and complex work and if you want to be considered as a right hand man to a Lawyer, being seen as trustworthy and dependable is key. These traits will stick to your reputation like glue and follow you wherever you go in the industry – and trust us this is one of the things that you want your referees to be boasting about when they are asked about you. Reliability can extend into making yourself available for long hours sometimes, but in recent years most law firms have taken it upon themselves to ensure that support staff enjoy a better work life balance overall.

Confidence

If you are not confident in your capabilities how do you expect those around you to be? A Legal Secretary recruitment agency will present a summary on their candidates when presenting them over to a law firm for consideration. We love nothing more than highlighting that a candidate is ‘confident in their capabilities’ as it indicates that the individual is likely to hit the ground running and pick up on training and new tasks and concepts with ease. Demonstrating confidence isn’t about being arrogant, its about identifying your strengths and making the most of them, challenging yourself to go out of your comfort zone, proactively building quality relationships and identifying your weaknesses and working on them. In a law firm you will be working around a lot of people senior to you who exude confidence, who generally enjoy working with like minded individuals who strive to be the best that they can be, growing and developing in their capabilities.

Efficiency

Time management and organisational skills. Nearly every job asks for these capabilities, but in the legal support profession you need to be well above proficient if you want to succeed. Changing priorities in the blink of an eye for your Lawyers and Partners means you need to be able to shift focus on to new tasks promptly. If you are already behind on the tasks you were already performing, catching up or juggling multiple at once will be impossible sometimes. Efficiency also proves that you are capable of taking on more – a Legal Secretary skill that a vast majority of support professionals we speak to are keen to demonstrate. And finally efficiency allows you to keep your hours down in a sometimes demanding role that can see you working long hours if you don’t keep on top of your workload. 

Tactful

You will be working on client matters that are highly confidential, personal and super important to organisations and peoples lives.  Maintaining discretion and confidentiality when liaising with clients and other stakeholders will be key to your success – people internally will really take note of how you handle yourself in these circumstances. If you are competent, it can really elevate the trust that Lawyers or Partners have in you, resulting in more opportunity and challenging work. Being empathetic yet still remaining professional is an important balancing act you will need to master.

If you want to chat more about the skills needed to be a Legal Secretary that people want to hire, do not hesitate to call our super knowledgeable and friendly team on 02 8042 1840.

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