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The Evolution of a Legal Secretary

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The Evolution of a Legal Secretary

​In the last three years the role of the Legal Secretary has been through a significant evolution. Previously viewed as typists responsible for formatting large documents, the role has transitioned into a much more operational and ‘value add’ resource for firms. The current role responsibilities are more aligned to that of a Personal Assistant, with a more varied scope of work.

As expert recruiters in the Legal Support space we have seen the impact this evolution has had on desired skill sets but also overall role enjoyment from our candidates. In today’s article, we examine the reasons for the evolution of a Legal Secretary.

The reasons for the evolution of the Legal Secretary role are varied, with Covid and the resulting lockdowns playing a pivotal role in forcing Lawyers to embrace technology and systems in order to work remotely, therefore taking the administration burden off the Legal Secretarial role. Automated templates, dictation software and grammar–correcting software have mitigated the need for hours of manual work spent proofing, formatting, and shorthand typing, previously a large part of the role.

This adoption of technology has been further exemplified by the next generation of lawyers coming up through the ranks, with Millennials and Gen X being much more tech savvy and doing their own administration from the get-go. Many of the previous administration based tasks performed by a Legal Sectary are now being completed directly by lawyers themselves e.g. lawyers doing their own typing and most no longer using dictation.

As firms become increasingly environmentally focused and move towards a paperless workplace, servers and cloud storage are replacing filing cabinets and boxes. Easily accessible from individual devices, the role of filing paper documentation and then locating that file has also been mostly removed from the work of the Legal Secretary.

With these tasks being absorbed by lawyers, we are now seeing the Legal Secretarial role evolving into an operational support role for the team. Some new responsibilities that have been introduced include booking travel arrangements and conferences, assisting with events, developing financial reporting, end of month billing, assisting with PowerPoint presentations, assisting with IT and working with the wider internal departments (such as marketing on business development collateral).

The adoption of technology during Covid and being forced to work remotely, means that the Legal Sectary role, for the first time, has been able to offer some flexibility in working hours and location of work if agreed in advance. We are seeing an increasing number of firms offering Legal Sectary roles with an element of remote working, something that is hugely desired by the candidate pool. This combined with the evolution of responsibilities for a Legal Sectary is resulting in more enjoyment from the talent pool, with Legal Secretaries feeling as they are able to deliver real value to their employers.

These fundamental role changes mean that there has been a real shift in the skillsets of effective Legal Secretaries which we further explore in our follow up blog on what skills are required to be an effective Legal Secretary of the future. Make sure you follow the CoLegal LinkedIn page, so you don’t miss our follow up blog on this topic or give Kylie or Simone a call if you want to discuss your next Legal Secretary opportunity.

Kylie Vercoe - Consultant

027 296 9439

Simone Macdonald

027 224 5228