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The New Legal Secretary

The New Legal Secretary

How the role of legal secretary has changed over the last 10 years.

Full disclosure, when I started as a Legal Secretary, Google didn’t exist; and fax machines were fancy, plus there was a hell of a lot more paper! While I reminisce about the late 90s,  I thought it was time to acknowledge how the role of the Legal Secretary has changed, which may help us identify what changes are likely for the next decade!

  1. Technology – It’s clearly the biggest change that affects not just the number of clients ringing through on a landline or lawyers scheduling their own diary appointments, but also the integrated document management and billing systems. For areas like property, technology (e.g. PEXA) means less physical runs to court and ease for clients who can now approve and sign, or share documents all online.  Dictaphone typing for many has now changed to proofreading and editing with many lawyers using technology to transcribe directly into a precedent.
  2. Headcount – The number of authors legal secretaries support has grown exponentially, primarily due to many lawyers being more self-sufficient when it comes to their diaries, phone, and emails; but also because of the above-mentioned technology. It still depends on the practice area but number of authors can range from 6 to 14!
  3. Billing – Unfortunately it does still exist! But it has become more efficient for those firms who are updating and using the leading technology. Some practice areas produce high-volume bills (insurance, property etc.) which can mean 2 or so weeks focused on billing.
  4. Team structure – Some firms have moved to more a of “pool’ structure for their legal secretaries and the role of Practice Co-ordinator has been created. Also, high volume billing has seen the creation of Billing Coordinators for some teams, removing some of the billing demands from secretaries. We have also seen a decrease in WP operators and Float Secretaries at many firms.
  5. Career progression – Back in the 90s there weren’t often a lot of options or thought given to career paths of secretaries apart from the occasional move to paralegal but now there are many options available. You can see our last month’s article for ideas.
  6. Paper – Thank God there is less of it!!
  7. Flexibility – Thank God there is more of it!!

So while the role of legal secretaries has most certainly changed, the job remains integral to the success of legal teams, and the technology piece will continue to evolve (hello AI).  So, it’s imperative that legal secretaries remain positive, proactive, and adaptable to change.  Saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that allow them to continue to develop their skills will keep them in good stead for how different the role will look come 2033.

If you would like to hear about new career opportunities or information about the market and your salary contact, Sommer on 0407 062 845.


Sommer Bath

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